‘Write what you’re afraid to,’ I’ve read over-and-over.
Yes, I’m afraid. (And I’m writing.)
Because, how many times have you seen (or written!) on dating profiles the phrase, “NO DRAMA”?
When I first saw it plastered under the faces of men (who were often not good-looking enough for me to want to know, anyway), I found myself ashamed for the still-rippling drama in my life; I swiped “NO,” feeling — nonetheless — like a mangy, crippled dog slinking off with her head tucked low. Gradually, seeing those two repeated words stirred gall, incredulity, anger and resentment at men who dare to call out women for ‘drama’ that is, more-often-than-not, instigated and initiated by the men in our lives.
I’m not trying to excuse the responsibility we women must take for our lives; but to think that, once we’ve removed ourselves from abusive relationships, everything is suddenly ‘all better’ is not only ludicrous but offensively dismissive — and indicative of exactly the kinds of crippling abuse we’ve often tolerated while (wrongly) accepting that there must be something wrong with us for having ever chosen to love our abuser/s, in the first place.
It’s beyond unfair to put the entire issue on our shoulders.
It’s tantamount to saying that those women who are raped deserve it; that every child who dies deserved it; that everyone killed by a drunk driver obviously shouldn’t have been driving on that particular road, late at night — or whenever.
It’s saying that in one mistake — LOVING someone who turned out to be abusive, leading to FORGIVING them for their abuses, HOPING they might change their ways, BELIEVING their countless lies and promises that the abuses would stop — is criminal behavior deserving of continued abuse and/or abandonment for the rest of our lives — and that those ‘NO DRAMA’ boys are legitimate candidates as judge-jury-and-executioner — without their bother for any investigation necessary.
(Oh, but those lads want the love. They just don’t want the DRAAAAAMAAAA.)
ENOUGH, I say.
My son is a monster. Perhaps I shouldn’t write this in a public setting, but he is.
I recently learned he’s looking to contact me, that he’s angry. I presume some piece of my recent semi-public revelations about the beatings he gave me while he was a teenager, before I sent him back to his father, reached his ears. It is evident that this now-twenty-two-year-old-child needed the therapy I was promised he would receive; it is now more evident than ever that this child has no idea, yet, of how to deal with his emotions any better than did his father, who denied our son the chance to have a therapist help reorient him.
I recently learned I have papillary thyroid cancer. I’ve had it for well over two years. This kind of cancer purportedly ‘grows slowly.’
This is “the good cancer,” I was told by the doctor who related the news to me after pathology reported that my vascular team actually removed a nearly 3-inch tumor previously-and-repeatedly misdiagnosed as a rare clavicle pseudoaneurysm.
‘Good’ is a relative term, of course. Herein, it means: The medical field has determined a way to remove most types of early-stage papillary thyroid cancer with up to nearly 100% success. I was told nothing of the aftereffects, nor of the fact that other cancers tend to crop up afterwards, for unknown reasons.
So, is it possible to call this a ‘good cancer’?
When found two years ago, the misdiagnosed, vascularized tumor-deemed-pseudoaneurysm alarmed me. “Where did it come from?” my parents and I repeatedly asked. “What are the chances I’ll develop another one?”
My doctors repeatedly dismissed my questions; they treated my concerns about its seriousness as “somatic” episodes. They tried to convince me it was ‘all in my head.’
My anxiety over the prospect of dying was evidently, to their perception, some show of drama.
… Not that it helps me now, but they were wrong.
And late to the game.
And I’m faced with possible consequences.
Look, I realize it’s difficult to cope with feelings of helplessness that arise when one faces someone in dire straits. I realize how riveting it can be to try to connect, to express one’s feelings towards someone whose life has just not been pretty. It’s easier to think the victim is to blame. It’s easier to sweep the entire issue under the rug. It’s easier to walk away. It’s easier to get mad at the victim for having such terrible things happening to them.
It’s easier to throw the responsibility, the problem, all of it back on the person dealing with it. It’s their life, after all!
And we’re not really brought up to know how to cope with people who are in very-unpleasant situations. After all, we euthanize animals that are unwanted, infirm, unwell, dying — even our beloved pets are fodder for… something else, once we can’t do anything to help them.
But, what are we to do with people??
I didn’t want to have this situation. I tried my best to get out of the scourge of terror as soon as I realized I was on the wrong path. I’m a smart woman, well-educated. Admittedly, it went on for far too long. I didn’t see the problem in its entirety, and no one around me pointed it out.
I’m also a loving woman, patient and kind — to a fault. I wanted to be a good wife, a good mother. I wanted to live a good life, to be creative. I wanted to write. I wanted to be a good girl, as I had always been. I wanted to make my father proud. I wanted to make my husband proud.
Nothing made my husband happy. Our son is his son, entirely. I have cancer. I’m hiding from my son. His father refuses to acknowledge my requests to politely divorce. I have a resume as evidence of working for A LOT of jerks, the most-recent of whom refused to pay me — just as COVID hit.
There is, undoubtedly, a lot of drama in my life. You can, in your limitless ignorance, blame me, hold me responsible, attempt to analyze my life for me — whilst knowing so little of the truth that it’s laughable. Feel free; it’s unlikely to harm me.
Besides: I’ve analyzed it all, before. I know where I went wrong. And nothing’s going to change it, now.
LIVE IN THE PRESENT; AND BE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT IS GOOD
Countless gurus and wise-type people, apps, philosophers, and psychologists encourage us to live in the present, to let go of the past. To write in gratitude journals so we might be more aware of what we have, of who we are, of what is good and worth living for.
Let me tell you:
I usually hate those apps, disdain those gurus and philosophers, argue with those psychologists and wise-type people.
(They remind me of the wasband, who purported to love philosophy, to study religion, to uphold the teachings of gurus and wise-type people. It hurts too much to grant that man I married, whom I loved for his supposed-love of philosophy and wisdom, any credit to any truth whatsoever when he hurt me as often and as deeply as he did.)
They’re still right.
(And I still have to divorce myself, my mind, my thoughts from their connections to the wasband, since truth exists independently of its source and of that source’s history.)
Yes, there are inescapable, sometimes-difficult truths I am forced to live with:
I have cancer. It might be far more serious than it was before being misdiagnosed over two years ago. That would suck — really, really badly, because:
I love living.
I love the color of this antique diner’s table (where I now write) that once stood in my dad’s restaurant — where, as a two-year-old child, I served lunch and dinner to my family, promising I’d work there when I was older. (I ended up in restaurants, even though my dad sold the restaurant long before I had the chance to work in it. Restaurant work and their incredible communities of chefs, cooks, dishwashers, servers, owners, managers, farmers, food and wine reps became my family, my greatest joy, my most-lasting friends. I miss them desperately.)
I love the scent of salt in the air when one nears the ocean. I love every body of water that exists on this planet; and I wish I could see, feel, swim in, sail on every single one.
I love dogs and cats and horses and squirrels and (especially) raccoons and tigers; I adore the little chipmunk that lives beneath my parents’ front yard. There’s not an animal alive that I don’t utterly adore — even the ugly ones.
I love, despite myself, despite my deep-and-very-real fears, people.
I’m scared, deeply, gut-wrenchingly scared of a lot of people — even strangers. Maybe even you. And I don’t want to be scared; I just want to love, to share, to connect, to talk, to get to know you, to let you get to know me.
I’m really. REALLY. Angry that life has come to this, for me: That I was abused by two people I loved so deeply; by employers whom I loved deeply; by people I respected, loved and helped in whatever ways I could. That I allowed for even one minute the grave disrespect I endured, let alone that I defended my abusers over the course of twenty years. (I have very-good therapists helping me to understand, accept, and deal with these painful facts. If you’re being abused or know someone who is, please encourage them to seek help, too.)
I’m fucking scared to die. I’m not scared because I’m afraid of hell; I don’t believe in such a place, nor that I’d be deserving if it even existed. I’m scared because I won’t be able to LOVE anymore. I’m scared because, for me, there is no God or gods or return-to-life, except in memories and through the resurfacing of life that happens in the natural cycle of life-and-death-and-life-and-death, of things dying and being consumed, used for energy by something living.
LIFE IS LIFE
In the end, what I write here won’t matter at all; it’s a drop in the stream of all life that is.
In the end, what I write here may make all the difference in the world — to you, to me, to someone with whom you share it.
In the end, the past is the past; the present is the present; and the future is so difficult to read and know that it’s only useful as a general course-bearing through the fog.
Life is life. People are so far from idealistic, so far from perfect, it’s unrealistic to expect… ANYTHING.
This does not mean I condone accepting anything. I mean: Expectations are lies. Every. Single. Time. They’re hopes, at best; dreams of what one wants and wishes.
Life can end suddenly, unexpectedly, without reasons. This is not drama; it’s not some foreboding premonition. It’s not pessimistic naysaying. It’s a fact.
All things die, eventually; we have no control over it, and little control over when.
Our emotional responses to the events in our lives are not “drama.” They’re emotional truths — truths that need not define us nor guide us, nor bury us, nor be the flags we wave, the guns we wield against each other.
What is so-oft deemed “drama” is, in fact, a cascade of unfortunate, undesired events, perhaps still with a great deal of momentum. It takes a great deal of strength — usually with the help of MANY caring, understanding people — to stop the momentum of so many of these kinds of unfortunate events.
HAVE A CARE
So, if you find yourself in a crisis of unfortunate events, if you find yourself struggling to keep afloat:
Reach out to family, if they’re responsive.
Reach out to friends, if they’re responsive.
Reach out to psychologists, peer groups, nonprofit groups affiliated with your type of crisis. See if they’re responsive.
And, if you’re the type who’s disdainful of “drama”?
Have a thought of what you’d need if something similar was happening to you. If you think you might want to be alone during a crisis, just leave the other person alone.
It’s an old, old piece of wisdom that still holds true:
DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE DONE UNTO YOU.*
* In case there was any question, this does NOT include abuse, mutilation or the like. Not talking about BDSM / kinks, thx.