I had a mini-meltdown a couple of months ago. I was so angry and frustrated that I was ready to give up on all the political activism/advocacy I’ve been doing the past 2 and half years. The evening before I’d explained for the millionth time (or so it seemed) what kind of help I needed in content creation and dissemination, and it just fell on deaf ears. I know this, because I am STILL struggling this evening.
I angry-drove on back country roads in the very early morning hours, fuming and fussing to myself. I realized how much it was like life in CancerLand. One of the reasons I’m not as active here on this blog, on my FB page or @curmudgoe Twitter account is that I look at the conversations there and just think: “been there, done that”. I don’t have the energy to explain, for the millionth time, why warrior metaphors are harmful, that slapping pink on everything doesn’t cure breast cancer, that blaming victims flat out sucks. I just have a hard time getting angry that Facebook/Instagram once again censored a mastectomy patient’s image—didn’t Scorchy Barrington handle that back in 2013 or 14?
I took a few breaths and reminded myself of something I wrote a few years ago. It is up to us. I once was very motivated to keep explaining the shittiness of cancer, of letting the more recently diagnosed know that no, it isn’t all pink ribbons and beers for boobies parties. That it’s OK to hate it, because so many others of us who’ve gone before hate it too. Don’t have anything nice to say? Good, come sit with us (to paraphrase Dorothy Parker).
This isn’t a job exactly, this cancer advocacy, nor is my political volunteering. The newly diagnosed will come to realize some truly crappy insights, and it is my choice to support and help them expand. Their people around them might not be helpful, and I—along with other long-time bloggers—have a few tools to help with that. Same with my other activities. I must stand firm, and explain, for the millionth time, maybe in a different way, what they need to hear, so I can get what I need, so that change can actually happen. I still believe in that, as jaded and cynical as I am.
Now, if THAT isn’t a helluva cancer lesson, ha ha.
“Our top story tonight concerns the Internet, AKA, the Electronic Cat Database” –John Oliver
Ain’t gonna lie: I’ve said I was too busy to write blog posts, but I’ve also just been too blue. I AM physically tired—lots of work, and as chemo and/or radiation recipients know, you are never quite “right” again. I used to have so much energy, but since cancer, I just have never felt quite as energetic. So yeah, at the end of the day, I just collapse—and marvel that I once went out to clubs after a work day (how? what?). But it’s more than that—I’ve been slightly depressed. I’m caught up in the 2017 horrific news cycle. I scan social media, save things to read later, but keep scrolling without going back to read—#FOMO in overdrive. I love being a good #Indivisible #Resistance member, but I am tired, as I suspect many are. So I have not taken time to attend to this blog, or even my CC Facebook page much lately. I gotta change that in 2018 (even though as a good Curmudgeon, I think NYE resolutions are total hogwash).
The threats to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have taken much of my attention this year, and will again next year. Coming in at a close second has been the Net Neutrality issues. That sort of surprised me—I mean I am one of those crazy lefties truly and deeply concerned that authoritarian rule is about to descend upon my country. I’ve been really upset about so many things, like the lying, the attacks on media, on immigrants, on, on, on—but the attacks on the Internet have really made me nuts. Yeah, yeah, I know, nothing has changed since the FCC vote a few weeks ago—but I know how these things go—it will happen incrementally, so we accept without notice. How will this impact my blog? Will people pay for access to WordPress blogs? Would I? I do think that packaging of things like FB/Netflix/Hulu/Twitter will happen. What will happen to Tumblr? Yeah, I know, Tumblr is for teen and twenty-something depressed girls or whatever. But it helped me back in 2012. Just out of treatment, just quit my 9 to 5 and starting my own business, post-treatment depressed—I fell into the fandom stuff there. I met people there. My first online cancer friend, Greg, who eventually died of Mets prostate cancer, was found there. My dear friends @angel-of-malahide and @toasty-hancock were there. So, I cannot imagine not having access to Tumblr, but my pragmatic self won’t “pay” for it. Hell, I just cancelled Netflix today—which was unthinkable years ago. But, I don’t have time for Netflix, so why pay? I used to be such a film geek this was unthinkable, but, buh-bye.
And this is the crux of it. Yes, I benefited from the in-person support group at my treatment center. But it was the online support that allowed me to truly recover, mentally. My support group was small and rather enlightened for all that we were in a rural area (I was NOT the only one pointing out pink lameness, or pointing out the sexualization). But it was online that I found my niche. I found The Sarcastic Boob. I was so honored and happy when Scorchy herself reached out to me via email (inspired a whole blog post because of things she asked me). I met Karen the Commenter. We had long email conversations. And then I met more and more. (Confession: started listing y’all, but stopped for fear of missing someone; started checking FB friends and I don’t think I need to explain how troubling it is to see names of the dead there). I became myself again. In short, without the Internet I would’ve been lost.
My point is—and I DO have one that I AM getting to—is that I am so grateful for everyone I’ve met via Internet. I’ve been lucky to meet a couple of y’all IRL. I’ve cut myself off a bit this year, and that has been a mistake. Granted, I cannot keep up the previous frequency of posts, but I’ve been TOO infrequent this year. I’ve missed the interaction. I am indeed am introvert, so it seems odd that I would miss interaction, but I do. In fact, not interacting becomes a bad habit. I get stuck inside my head too much, and that is NOT good. (Or maybe my head got stuck in the other place, hardee har har.)
As I think I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really celebrate the holidays, what with half my life being in the service industry, holidays are just times when life is too busy, and I’m usually working. When the holidays are over and the new year begins, that’s a better time for me. I kind of like the return to routine, the disruption of the holidays is over. I cannot help but think I am not the only one with this view. Anyone reading this live in a small town too? Anyone else have that one restaurant or fast food crap hole that the retired set like to hang out in every single morning? I know some of those folks, and I know they kind of like it when the disruption is over too. Maybe their families live too far away for a visit (or some other far less pleasant back story), and they just want to get back to the everyday comfort and joy their pseudo family provides. I can’t help but think the online community is like that. It is nice to see family—for some of us. But the families we’ve created here online in our blogging community, the people who “get us”, well, it’s good to get back to that too. We all know that not all of our family members have been able to support us during the cancer in the way we needed. So we need this thing, this Electronic Cat Database, this Internet. (Also, for the cat videos, which I’ve mindlessly watched lately. A lot.)
So my sort of, cough cough, resolution (ugh), is to return. A return to writing, to reading, to commenting, to interacting. I need it.