... in my brain actually. My very own brain tumour

Saturday, February 2, 2008

My wake-up call. What I learned last night

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Last night was great. We were invited to an impromptu birthday celebration on Clifton Beach and joined our group of friends ranging in age from 30s to 60+. Lolling in the soft sand, we illegally but discretely polished off a few bottles of wine and mounds of food. We watched the sun slide down the sky until it disappeared peacefully into the sea, and chatted lazily about good times. I know that it is sometimes posible to see a green flash on the horizon just as the sun sets. So we all waited and observed. The conditions were clearly not right because no green flash came. But my personal conditions were different, aided by the knowledge that my brain tumour was sitting comfortably but illegally in my head. I had a flash of insight that can only be described as blinding. That’s what I want to record for myself in this diary entry.

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Isn’t it odd that it often takes a shocking life experience to make one suddenly understand things that should have been self-evident in the first place? What I am going to explain will probably sound banal, but it has taken me 62 years to get the point. It happened last night.

As I sat on the beach with my very closest and dearest friends, all of whom know what my medical problem is about, I was aware that many of them had already read the thoughts in previous entries in this blog. These are very private thoughts and beliefs (that I want to share boldly and openly). But I suddenly had second thoughts. What do they think of me now? Am I the same person to them that I was before? Have I disappointed or offended them? Do they think that I am reacting like a gushing, self-absorbed idiot by pouring out all my secret stuff into a public forum like a blog? I was horrified, embarrassed and uncomfortable for a while, I must admit. Then I got it. Here we all were, just sitting in a warm, friendly circle, chatting, eating, drinking and enjoying each other. It was more than obvious to me that I was liked and accepted. Nothing had changed. In fact, a few private communications with these dear people convinced me that I have done the right thing.

This epiphany dawned on me when I thought about the source of the doubts and insecurities described earlier. They all came out of my belief systems, more specifically my illogical, untested belief that I am inferior, damaged, and therefore need to change who I am for others to accept and like me. The fear of not being accepted or liked, has stalked me like a lion my whole life. Yes, a lion! One of those cats with the big mouth and sharp teeth that crunch bones, tears meat and destroys you playfully if you let it get too close. I have been living my life mostly in a role that is not actually me. All my failures and successes have been born out of and motivated by FEAR. It has been a terrible and destructive fear. I have been a groteque construction of the person I think other people want me to be. Its crazy when I think about it. Now that I have started opening up and getting my beliefs into the light of day, I no longer have to defend hidden monsters that I didn’t understand myself and other people knew nothing about anyway. I know where this fear comes from, but that is another story. . . If my behaviour and beliefs are different from those of my friends, I now feel comfortable and secure about them. I am who I am. That’s it. Some of it is good, some of it is a bit dodgy, some of it may even be dull or eccentric or offensive. But I am relaxed about the package now. It is under reconstruction anyway. Thank you all for helping last night just by being yourselves. It was a gift of momentous proportions. I am not overstating anything when I used the word “momentous”.

So, what kind of person will emerge? The brilliant theoretical physicist, Richard Feynman is reputed to have said, “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you probably don’t understand quantum mechanics.” I am going to take a leaf out of his book and show proper humility when deciding if I really understand what kind of journey I am starting now. I can honestly say that I am not sure how I will be. I suspect and hope that I will have the confidence to take more chances and be happy to deal with the outcomes even if they are not what I expect. I may not even change much. I think I will be more adventurous, but not always. I will be more accessible to people, but not always. I will be more positive, but not always. Whatever comes out will be me. I am looking forward to it. The really important thing that changed last night is that I can feel the change. In the past, I have tried to make changes to myself by reading books, going to psychotherapy, planning strategies and forcing myself to do things that I hated.

What I am sure about is that whoever the new me turns out to be, it will be authentic and real. It could be frustrating and unexpected, but I think it is going to be fun. Thanks to all of you who have helped me get here. I am feeling positive, happy, peaceful and excited. And, believe me, I am fully in touch with reality. A good place to be.

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