A Quiet Place

“I realized that my inability to process ‘noise’, be it dog whistles, Karens, or even hypo-manic friends, is probably a good thing, even if it brings a feeling of abandoning an aspect of myself in separating from it. I’m really only abandoning my codependency with ‘noise’ in the first place.”*

*Journal entry from Saturday, August 30th.

You ever see the movie “The Crow”? I know, TWO movie references in ONE post is unfair, I get that. Bear with me. The scene where Eric draws the morphine from the arm of Sarah’s mom. Well, in my case, if morphine was noise and Eric was cancer… okay, maybe a stretch… but my circumstances seem to play this one out.

I had become a noise junkie.

Not the kind of noise most people associate “noise” with, or relate to on any level, but the kind of noise that is often barely audible to the unaware listener. It’s analog, not digital, and therefore much harder to tune out. The noise I had become addicted to was… people.

There is a blessing… okay, a burden… alright, some might even call it a curse… with folks who intuit. Without dropping another dozen movie references and losing every reader, I’ll just say that (1) intuition on a level above most people’s ability to read tone of voice or body language in another person is real, and (2) it can become addictive. By August 30th, barely a week into my Summer of Cancer, I realized that all my blessing-burden-curse, what those who intuit (known as the “intuu”) was crushing me. Instead of that measured “receive and give” that intuition, much like breathing, something forced was happening in me. In my case, instead of a balance, it took on an edge, a jones in progress, a gift gone wrong. Instead of a feeling of well-being that can come from doing good, my recently jacked-up emotions had tuned my intuitive breath into emotional hyperventilating.

By the end of that day’s journal entry, I understood that my ability to process my own thoughts and emotions, something I desperately needed to do, had become an addiction response. I was using heightened emotional interaction with others in an attempt to make myself feel better, and I had to disconnect, immediately.

I had to find a quiet place, right fucking now.

Even writing this, five weeks after, I feel the learned behavior of steady, measured breathing take over. A deep breath in. A brief hold. A slow release of that breath. Repeat as necessary. Finding that place of internal quiet without interruption. Trusting that I have found that place in me again, more sure now than I had been… before. Knowing that recovering what was, for a time, lost, is stronger than before.

And mine again, because I know I’m going to need it.

(c) copyright 2020 William S. Friday

The Morning After

“Funny how nothing else in my life seems to matter after 5:24 pm yesterday. Women, food, to do list, job search, none of that… that’s about it except for which friend to tell.”*

*Journal entry for Friday, August 21.

This morning I read over the journal entries from those first, critical days in August, when my very ordinary isolation life became my very ordinary survival life. Besides my literary creativity in trying to best describe what a clump of dissolving-in-urine blood mass should be called, the 24 hours after First Symptom were spent repeating the phrase,

“I’m scared. Of course I’m scared.”

The fear which consumed me, and navigating those feelings, through “very ordinary” things like eating and sleeping… and at that point, having not yet told anyone… well, I can barely remember what that felt like, even while reading my words as I compose what I’m typing right now.

By the way, my chosen simile for what came out of me every time I was brave enough to pee was “hibiscus tea”. You’re welcome. Let THAT image carve its own space in your brain going forward.

“And now the questions… How long will I live? How will my quality of life be? Who will be there in my future? Seriously, will I even see the election? What comes after that? What DOES come after that?”**

**Same journal entry for Friday, August 21.

You know, it’s been 11 weeks and I still ask most of those questions. The election question just seems silly right now, but on August 21st, November 3rd seemed like one hell of a long ways off.

There is a thing said of athletes as they mature, and as experience begins to show itself greater than any ability with which an athlete plays the game. That thing said is, “The game begins to slow down” for them. It is that moment when experience and a history of being good at something, trade places, and the doing of a thing is made easier merely by having been there and done that so many times, that there is an almost unconscious take-over by the body, of the mind. Call it Gladwell’s ten-thousand hours. Call it simple muscle memory. It’s how I know I could still roller skate when I haven’t laced up a pair of roller skates in decades. How I know I can field a ground ball behind second base and, all in one motion, throw it, without looking, to first. And it is how, without ever having been this scared for my life, the game of life slows down, and I am able to make check-box decisions, one after the other, even when, in my head, I hear myself screaming louder than the crowd of spectators that surrounds me.

Call it time served on earth.

“How many times have I mentioned that I’m scared? At this time yesterday, I was peeing clear, felt fully hydrated, healthy, alive even. This morning, I feel like I need to get my affairs in order. Seriously? In 24 hours?”***

***Even later journal entry for Friday, August 21.

(c) copyright 2020 William S. Friday