Saturday, January 27, 2018

Putting Myself Out There, Part Two

I have been as chill as this dog!
On the last day at the plastic surgeon, they have you put on a pink graduation cap and gown.  They take your picture.  You've finished, you're done, life is good.  They also ask you if you would be willing to be a member of their club for former patients.  I said yes, because it was mainly email and therefore not too stressful.  However, I was recently asked if I wanted to be interviewed for a short film about my experiences, to help other women who are about to have reconstruction.

Help other women who are about to have reconstruction? 


The old me(before cancer) would have flat out said, "Nope, no thank you, not interested."   The very idea would have me running in the opposite direction, heading for a hiding place.  Meeting new people really makes me nervous. And to be interviewed on camera?   My anxiety makes me think that people are judging me, making fun of me, with a little paranoia thrown in, and I panic.  Intellectually, I know that I have absolutely NO reason to feel that way.  Emotionally is another story. I know that I'm not the only one out there who feels that way, but when I am in the midst of a panic attack, it sure seems that way.

But the NEW AND IMPROVED me(after cancer) has decided to stop saying "no" to things that scare me.  I said yes.  Then I obsessed 24/7 about all the "what ifs", and had to take a Xanax to calm down.  Actually, I did not do this for once!.  The old me so would have done that, but the new me?  I completely forgot about it, until I got another email asking me when I would be available.  My interview is scheduled for Monday afternoon.  I will try to answer the questions truthfully, without profanity.

I just want to be helpful, and maybe to give back a little of the wonderful support that I received. My experience is a path that many other women have traveled.  I am not unique. Cancer is such a horrific event, no matter what the outcome.  If I can help at least one woman feel a bit more in control of the chaos?  I am more than willing to put myself out there, even if it means doing something scary and terrifying like be on video. 

However, I draw the line at skydiving.  Hard pass.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Overheard Conversation in a Middle School Hallway

I work in a middle school.  Most people, when I tell them this, look at me with horror at the idea of being around middle school kids, but I love it.  I adore middle school aged students the most, with their "not-quite-a-teenager-but-not-really-a-child" shenanigans.  Many of them sometimes act like the adults around them aren't there, they are so focused on their peers.  These two were in the halls, and they did not notice me walking behind them. Or perhaps they did notice me, and thought that I couldn't hear them. It's even money.

Teenager 1: Wanna fight?
Teenager 2: Yeah, I'll fight you. How about fifth period?

My ears perked up at this, and I listened more closely.  If these two were going to fight fifth period, I would have to hustle to find an administrator.  I continued to walk behind them. The two didn't seem to be angry or upset.  They were talking in normal tones.  I wanted to know more, and they didn't disappoint.

Teenager 1: No, I got a test.  How about after school?
Teenager 2: No, I got soccer.. How about Saturday in the park?
Teenager 1: No, I got stuff to do with my mom.  What about Sunday?
Teenager 2. I got church.
Teenager 1: Me too.

The two finally decided that they were just going to stay friends because they did not have the time to fight. They disappeared around the corner and I stopped at my office door.

A good decision, I think. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

We All Need To Vent

Some days are just full of frustrations.  Trials and tribulations, as the old folks might say. From the time you wake up, everything seems to go wrong.  Your alarm doesn't wake you because you forgot to turn it on. The coffee maker dies after depositing a viscous, bad smelling, barely-liquid into your cup.  You run out of gas on the way to work, because the fuel gauge is broken.  The report you have been working on for the past three days mysteriously vanishes when you hit 'print'.  The teacher who was supposed to complete a rating scale 'forgot'.  You sit on a chair before realizing that it contains a liquid, and your white pants are ruined.  Not that I would EVER wear white pants, for fear of a sea captain named Ahab. But if this did happen to me, I would find it completely necessary to just take the rest of the day off. Maybe the week.

Frustration happens. Most of us blow everything off, and move along.  We'd go nuts if we didn't. And it makes sense to let things go, especially in today's  It certainly isn't professional to throw yourself on the ground and have a grand fit, although it sounds very fun.  But some days you just can't blow things off, and they pile up.  An explosion is imminent.
Bless whoever made this comedy gold.

When I get that frustrated, I have to vent. I need to mutter a few choice curse words under my breath, or visualize the Hand of God coming down from the heavens and smiting the object of my frustration. Occasionally, I will need to distract myself with chocolate. A little of this, and then I take a deep breath, refocus, and get back to work.  Problem solved.

That is for minor irritations.  Major irritations require a human touch for venting, to regain balance. We have to talk it all out of our system, and we need someone else's ears. There is no other way to get rid of all the emotions that are building up inside you.  Bad things happen when you keep things bottled up inside. 

This is a big favor to ask of another person, of course. I suppose that you can pay someone to listen to you, but that can get expensive.  You can try to vent to a complete stranger, or your spouse, but it's never the same.  It's also the reason that I can't go back to a particular Burger King in San Marcos.

Thankfully, most of us have a friend or two who will listen while we complain or whine about the unfairness or inconsideration of whatever is causing us annoyance. Trust has already been established, and the rules laid out.  These rare souls don't tell you how to fix the problem, or what you "should" have done.  No, they're cheering your rant on, encouraging you with just the right comments("NO WAY!", "She did NOT!")  to keep you going until the anger is spent.  Then come the tissues, the hugs, laughter.  And the snacks!  The storm has passed.  This is the magic of a good friendship.

It is important to cherish these particular friends, and not overtax their ears with constant complaining.  Reciprocity is so important.  Your friends may call you on occasion and want to vent and to neglect them would demonstrate poor manners and a definite lack of consideration. Just as they listened to you vent, you should listen to them.  Otherwise your magical friend will probably find herself venting to another, and her frustration will be with you!