I’m the type of person that likes to face a problem head on. The best example I have of this is (and my husband LOVES this story) when I was in my early 20s and some man (boy?) delivering flowers whispered something inappropriate to me as he passed. I don’t remember what this man said to me but it set me off. I remember that I had received several catcalls that day, something that angered me beyond words so I just wasn’t in the mood for it.
“What did you say to me,” I hissed!!!!
He just stared at me.
“No, say it again! Repeat what you just said to me. Out loud so other people can hear.”
He stared at me for a moment, smirked and began to walk away.
“No, say it again! Say what you said to me!!!” I might have added a few curse words in there.
I began to follow him. He walked faster. So did I. He began to run and I followed. I followed him until I got an apology. I think it was two city blocks.
I think about this now and how crazy (and stupid) it was for me to do this. This is NYC! I could have gotten shot or, at the very least, slapped across the face. But I hate injustice and when people are treated poorly or unfairly. That day, I felt like I was being objectified and that felt unjust to me.
Even though I’m a little less intense now that I’m in my 30s than I was back then, I still get a fire in my belly when things piss me off or I have been treated unfairly. It’s how I get things done. In many ways, when it has come to treating my cancer, I have been much the same. My anger at this crappy situation has fueled my drive to advocate for the best doctors and treatment. I never take anything at face value. I push to know more about everything they suggest for me and the things that I suggest to them. I have stared cancer in the face and said, “What did you say to me? That you want to kill me? ” and chased it out as far away as I could.
I have fought and continue to fight against this disease but have oftentimes wondered, what would happen if I just…ran away. If I just ran away from it all.
I know that running away from your problems doesn’t solve anything. The rational part of my brain knows that you never leave your problems behind, especially when those problems are rogue cells rapidly growing in your breast with the goal of whole body domination. But that other part of my brain, the one that prevents the panic attacks and the depression that holds you in you bed all day against your will, believes that running away is just what the doctor ordered.
Sometimes I dream of going to a secluded island. And island where the only sounds I hear are the crashing waves, the sound of a bird in the palm trees and my own breath. I can be alone and quiet without people constantly asking questions about my health or bowel movements.
Other times I dream of escaping to Bangkok, being one among millions of people. I see myself wandering the streets, passing golden temples, taking in the smells of food carts on the streets serving rich broths and roasted meats. No one would find me there.
Then I dream of India, being embraced by a sea of colored saris and pungent spices. I can taste new foods, see art, go to a yoga retreat (I don’t even like yoga that much). So many others do it and no one asks why. I’d be hidden in plain sight. It would be perfect for me.
But I am a rational person. I’ve never ran away from a problem and never would. I know the fantasy of leaving everything behind does not reflect the reality. My fantasies are often short-lived and I snap to the realization that running away from my problem, from my cancer, from my treatment, would end up making my problems worse.
As I prepare for the next few weeks of my life, I have to go against my instincts to run in the other direction and get as far away from my problems as possible. Although doing so would feel so good. I need to get angry again. Angry that this should never have happened to me, that I’m in daily pain, that I can’t look at myself in the mirror, that my self worth has diminished. This should piss me off. It does. But I need to get more angry so I can face things head on. So I can grab my problems by the balls and say, “What did you say to me! Tell me again,” and chase them out of my life.
Paris sounds better, though.