The words to New Order’s Blue Monday feel apt for the first of my eight sessions at the Cancer Care Centre. Eight Monday sessions to start to talk about the last 12-months. It’s coming up for a year since I had the mammogram which led to the recall which resulted in the biopsy which …. the rest has been documented here and to those who know me.
But – have I really dealt with it? No not at all. So off I go on doctor’s orders to talk to others who are also coping with cancer, and to get some talking therapy for my self and learn some relaxation techniques.
I rock up 5 minutes before the session start time – to find another 8 or so women in a room drinking tea and coffee and chatting. For once I sat and listened – determined not to be the jolly one who tries to make everyone else feel at ease. Then Sue swept in and whisked me off to a room for our 1-2-1 counselling chat. What the hell am I doing here? I don’t need to talk about this. I’ve been back at work full time for 8 months – surely I’m dealing with this OK. And anyway I’ve not got time – a day a week, how am I going to make that up?
And then I hear myself enumerating stuff, the flood, the moving out, the challenge in helping our youngest through her own tough times, the highs as well (oh, and I got a professorship), and the lows (and yes it was cancer) and again the highs (and I went to Australia for 6 weeks) and the lows (we lost my mother-in-law in December). But how am I supposed to feel now – a year on? I’ve had breast cancer. I put it in a box and got on with things. I’ve been getting on with things as long as I can remember.
Then I know why I’m here – it’s to do that slowing-down-stuff that I keep picking up books about, written by Bhuddist monks, and to really do what my friends keep trying to tell me because work really isn’t as important as I think it is (though I do think it is, it is isn’t it?), and to take breath – because I have spent nearly 40 years running and now I need to learn to breathe again.
And that, JC, is going to be your biggest challenge. To stop running away from what’s happened and away from the box high upon a shelf you have put this into. To get that box out, open it up and take a good long look at it. And decide what you’re going to do with it, and what you’re going to do next [end inner voice].
At the end of the session we were shown the jelly-beans in a tree picture and asked which one we were today. Me/ None of them. Or all of them. But where is the one with the angry look? And why do I feel like the one with a butterfly floating past one minute and the one climbing the tree the next and then ALL-OF-THE-ONES with their backs to the reader? Hopefully over the coming 7 weeks I can start to get a handle on this. Or not.
If I hide myself wherever I go
Am I ever really there?