Saturday, August 15, 2009


Sometimes there are things you know in your being, but that you try to deny because they're unpleasant. But, there comes a time when you have to bring them into your consciousness and begin to deal with them.

Tonight I'm wrestling with one of those. It's painful. But I've got to accept it.

Earlier this year when I was diagnosed with an ovarian tumor and there was a chance it would take my life, I noticed some people began to distance themselves from me. It was subtle at first, almost imperceptible, but there. I noticed. I'm not sure they did, but I did.

In the weeks between diagnosis and surgery, the tension grew, and so did the distance. Just a tiny bit here and a tiny bit there.

After surgery there was much rejoicing and happiness that it was benign and life - at least mine - would go on. I am so very grateful for the outcome, but once you've been down that road there's no going back. You're a person who was in real danger of dying. And people in your world know that they were close to having to grieve you. It's a thought many just aren't comfortable with, even though logically this is true for all of us all of the time.

So, they drift. They see you less. They talk to you less. They get some distance. It's a defense mechanism, and I get that. It's their way of saying, "Oh my gosh, this person could have died. What would my life be like without this person? Wow, I better change my life so this person isn't as much a part of it." I understand that. I really do.

I'm tainted goods now. The tumor made real the issue that people in our lives can suffer and die. It's scary and people don't want any part of it. So, they move away from you, finding other people and things and places to fill the space, so just in case you do die their lives aren't affected so much. I get it. I really, really, really get it, but it hurts nonetheless.

Unfortunately, all I can do is accept it. So, tonight, I will begin searching for a place in my soul to tuck away these losses, too.


sigerson said...

I am not surprised that some people have edged away and am glad you have the insight to see that it's human nature and "nothing personal." Yet that does say something about the depth (or lack of it) of some of the friendships you had. Since you cherish your friends so much, it's easy to see why this hurt you.

I hope you'll focus, instead, on the glass half full: the true friends who rose above human nature and any fears they had and were there for you when the chips were really, really down. Greg and Sharon are such people.

You're a different person now, Patsy. How can anyone walk through the Valley of the Shadow as you did and not be changed? I imagine this colors your feelings about what you require in a friendship. My guess is that your future friendships will be fewer but deeper.

To me, you are *not* damaged goods. You are simply a weird, Southern chick with an unhealthy obsession with Christmas.

Patsy Terrell said...

Alas, it is some of the longer-term deeper friendships that are most affected. I think it's less difficult for people to whom you're "less important." It's just one of those things, I suppose.

Since I wrote this I've heard from others who have experienced the exact same thing.

It comes in many forms - from little things to big things. But, there's nothing I can do about it except move on.