Interior decorating has never been my forte. Just ask my sister. She wouldn’t describe herself as a fashion or interior decorating maven by any means, but I would! To me she’s the one to ask when I want to know if something looks “right”. You know, if we move the furniture around, I’ll text her a picture to see if she thinks it looks too cramped or stilted or mom-like. Or, when we’re out shopping and she makes a casual comment such as “Oh, look at this beautiful black dresser.” I find myself saying “Oh, do we like black furniture now?” Shoot! I didn’t even know that was a thing!
We all have our people we go to for certain issues. My sister is my interior decorating consultant, but she’s not the one I’d consult with for my workout goals. “Oh, brother”, she’d say “you know I’d rather go on a spa retreat than a yoga retreat any day.” I am good at coming up with her 60 year old birthday celebration ideas–except, as she says–they’re really my own birthday party ideas, like biking through France or Italy, or attending a Costa Rican yogi retreat, or training for a triathlon. Actually, none of them are actually likely to take place for either one of us, but the difference is I actually enjoy thinking they might and she really doesn’t.
When you’re faced with a cancer diagnosis, you need to figure out who the people are in your life who can help you with whatever it is you need most. You, the caregiver or patient, need to figure out what you need most during each cycle of living with cancer, and then identify the people in your life who can best help you work through it. So, if making plans for the next spring break is what keeps you going, talk to your friends who love to travel and plan itineraries. And if maintaining optimal nutrition for your family during cancer treatment and beyond is what keeps you focused on caring for your loved one, then seek out your friends who love to cook and are good at menu-planning. If your living room or bedroom needs to be rearranged to meet the needs of your loved one, look no further than your interior decorator friend.
And, if you find that what’s giving you the most trouble is your inner life– finding peace in your cancer journey or in supporting your loved one’s cancer journey–seek out those friends who are good at talking about emotions and who aren’t uncomfortable with seeing your cry or sob or grab them around the shoulders and squeeze the living daylights out of them!
If that’s not enough-as in, you feel like you’re falling apart on the inside and even your psychologically-minded friends can’t keep up the pace of consoling you, you might want to consider seeing a professional therapist. I did, and it was the best decision I could have made. My therapist, recommended to me by a friend, guided me through those dark days following J’s diagnosis. That period, which we refer to in our household as “the freefall”, was still excruciatingly difficult and confusing, but my therapist’s questions and comments helped me gather strength and learn some of the gifts of cancer. It was (and still is) my interior decorating of the spirit, mind and soul.
(This post was written on Jan. 2, 2017, but was privately posted until March 25, 2017. Rookie error. Smile.)