I had planned to continue my series on dating and cancer, but something else moved me, putting that on hold and to write this, to convey the ‘soup de jour’.  So here it is and perhaps something from which we can all learn.  Perhaps something which shows my rarely felt struggle with the side effects of my disease.

In traversing the landscape we call life there are, for most of us, many alternatives from which to choose.  In some cases they are simple, very straightforward and more so, a differentiation between good and bad.  In some cases they are choices between two, seemingly equal, ‘goods’.  In other cases we face two things, two choices, neither of which are very salient, both of which, when selected, will cause us some degree of pain.  Within my journey through life I’ve faced many choices, friends, where to live, cancer treatments and relationships.  In many cases the decisions are made for us, simple and undeniable, at least as viewed by us.  It was that way for me with my divorce, clearly something that was inevitable, but something decided by my now ex-wife.  From my perspective it was a good decision, it was, for all intents and purposes, time to part ways, something I realized once the proverbial smoke cleared.  Some think my cancer treatments were lofty choices, choices between life and death, between living few years or many.  For me, cancer was easy, it was simply a matter of looking at the facts, reviewing the data and selecting that which, for me, held the greatest promise.  Relationships, like that of my marriage, hold more, much more, they harbor depth of emotion and with that become less about the facts and more about feelings.

In the past months I’ve faced several choices, choices I’ve faced in the past and which held considerable gravity.  With each came the challenge of weighing my values, my sense of right and wrong with that of my feelings for another.  The choice was to either accept or, in some fashion withdraw, seek that place inside myself which  allowed me to reconcile those things which were at odds, to find that certain inner peace.  Long ago I faced such a challenge and chose to withdraw, chose to go to a place where I could recalibrate, to find the balance between my feelings for another and that which, for me, was necessary to accept if I could continue within that relationship.  That recalibration took two years, it required considerable introspect and when resolved, from my perspective at least, made for a stronger, and certainly more peaceful, relationship.  In a more concrete sense, I could move forward without the physical anxiety that hounded me, that caused sleepless nights and other physical symptoms.  I know that in taking that path, in some senses a selfish path, I hurt someone for whom I cared deeply, whom I know cared deeply for me.  While the withdrawal produced great emotional stress for me, it was, in the end, and in many senses, a matter of self-preservation.  I once again find myself facing a similar, perhaps more tenuous dilemma, however, in this case there comes the huge twist, something of life, and of death, of my cancer and all its implications.

Prior to my cancer my approach to this situation would be very straightforward – withdraw, reconcile, recalibrate and then return if welcomed.  In the past, time was of no real consequence, it mattered not because, sans getting hit by a bus, there was no impending threat to my life.  In the past there was no question, whether it took 2 months or five years, I would be around to return, that I could reenter the life, or lives, of those left.  However, life has thrown this curve, this cancer, and it has, perhaps intentionally, made such an escape much more challenging.  Perhaps this current state is life challenging me to work through the issues, to recalibrate while sustaining the relationship, to find the means to limit my pain, to find the strength to carry on.  Perhaps life is telling me that if I really care for the person, I will, without bleeding beyond myself, find a means to heal.  I’ve thought about this, considered it for some time now and have, in my way, concluded that if the latter is the case, life is playing a very cruel joke on me, that it is testing the bounds of my limits and, perhaps in some ways, testing the very fabric of my being.

When considering my choices I’ve found there are three very certain realities.  First, I know suspending the relationship will cause a great deal of personal pain, it will, without doubt, be one of the most hurtful things I’ve experienced.  Second, I know that this action will cause considerable pain for another, someone for whom I care very deeply, more than that person could ever know.  Lastly, I know seeking the solution concurrently, while sustaining the relationship is daunting, frightening and, in many ways, remains physically demanding, so much so it likely affects my cancer, perhaps taking time I do not have to give, from me.  In the end, irrespective of the realities, something need be done, a choice made and herein resides my greatest test, in my eyes, the ultimate dilemma.  Damn this cancer, damn all that it is and while it has strangely brought good things, damn its existence in me, its stealing of time.

Happy reading, happy thoughts and happy trails.

As always, feel free to comment or you may email me at lifeabstractions@gmail.com



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