Outside Looking In

I’ve spent most of my life on the outside looking in. To be honest, I like it out here most of the time; however, it also causes periodic times of profound loneliness. Metastatic breast cancer adds less time between the bouts of loneliness.

I was an awkward child who spent her time with animals on the farm rather than play dates. Preschool didn’t exist “back in the day.” Attending Sunday School every week was my social outing with peers. My only sibling is eight years older, so we loved each other but certainly didn’t spend time together.

My best friends were my cousins and I was most certainly blessed in that area. I have 21 cousins, most of whom lived within 20 miles of my childhood home. I am the youngest in both sides so everyone took care of me. Until junior high I spent the majority of my time with my cousins, especially with the 3 girls just older than me. There are so many photos of the four of us girls piled up together! We always spent Sunday afternoons at my maternal grandmother’s house and it was the highlight of my week. But there was heartache every Sunday evening when the moms said it was time to go and that meant the other three would see each other at school the next day and I wouldn’t see them until next week (I lived in a different school district). I can still feel that physical heart ache as I write this.

In junior high my grandmother died and there were fractures in the adult relationships. Gatherings stopped. My three amigos still got to spend their time together at school. I became the outsider. (To be fair, I probably belonged there. Your cousins accept your awkwardness and quirks; your peers not so much. ) Losing the closeness of that group is a hurt still felt today.

I have a profound friendship with Dave and have always been most comfortable around him. My cancer diagnosis brought us even closer together. He was with me when I received the diagnosis and has been with me for every single oncology appointment and chemo treatment. However, cancer also causes us to spend less and less time together. He changed jobs so that he works nights. This means he can go to medical appointments with me without taking a vacation day. There aren’t enough vacation days in the world for MBC! I was the main breadwinner and now I’m disabled so he works long hours to keep the family afloat. I visit with him briefly each morning when he gets home from work, and try to be here to visit with him an hour or two before he returns to work that night. The rest of my day is usually spent with my dog, Indie. (I’ve grown insanely close to my dog because she is my only companion most days. ) If I go somewhere for fun, I go alone. I come home at night to Indie and no one else. Our sleep schedules are not in sync so even on his days off, we don’t have much awake time together.

I feel alone now because no one else understands how I feel inside. I have scans again tomorrow. There is nothing I can do today that will change the results so logic tells me there is no point in feeling anxious. My brain is not interested in logic so my anxiety is over the roof. It is all I can think about right now. But I cannot share that with anyone because they will tell me to “think positive” or tell me not to worry. And that will just make me scream inside.

I had a deep sense of loneliness in a church group this week as we discussed a book authored by a woman dying of cancer. There were so many things being said in discussion that were so wrong. Just wrong. There were so many things I needed to say. Things I was screaming inside myself but I couldn’t share with the group. I quit the group and couldn’t bring myself to go back to church today. Which is why I’m sitting here alone on a Sunday morning, when I’m usually happily immersed in conversation and worship with my church friends.

I look at life so differently than most. My faith keeps me going and I mainly practice that within my music. That also includes reading lyrics as poetry. Joni Mitchell is a profound lyricist. She explains how I feel best in this:

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