As to the reason Mum and I were talking about such things, I was attempting to explain that, though I know she and Dad are always the first to read each of my published posts (to crazy-competitive, ha-ha-I-saw-it-before-you levels that’d make you giggle with your hand clutched adoringly to your heart), what they read here is never written specifically for them. I mean, obviously, it’s for them in the sense that everything I do is for the people I love, but very, very rarely is anything on my blog written with the intention of sending them a message.
As those who know the genuine-me rather than the blog-me appreciate (and, I fear, everyone else will deride), I’m actually fiercely private. That must appear ludicrously fabricated coming from someone who lays bare her thoughts and experiences and bowel movements for anyone to read, but it’s true. I suppose what I mean is that the other me – the boring me; the me who wouldn’t make the blog edit – is simply kept concealed. Because on here, after all, I am a character; just as I’ve made – hopefully both accurately and flatteringly – of the people I write about. Hence, in much the same way that this blog isn’t written for my parents, nor is it really written for me, either. (Again, yes, it’s obviously for me in the sense that it’s a wonderful catharsis and one of the few things that keeps me [vaguely] sane, but y’know worrimean.) On the whole, however: as Alright Tit has evolved, it has grown (very happily, I might add) to be written for you; the folk with a curious – more than a vested – interest.
Today, however, is different. Today I’m breaking with that new-found tradition and writing it for me instead. Because sometimes, dear reader, you just need to have a word with yourself. (Or, in my gobby case, a couple of thousand.) You see, it’s time for me to have a good old-fashioned, state-of-the-union, rap-on-the-knuckles talking to and, where this issue is concerned, I don’t think anybody can do it (or would dare to do it, judging on my behaviour of late) but me.
It’s been brewing for a few weeks, if truth be known. Probably since the initial discovery of the secondary disease. I’ve noticed it creeping across in tiny increments, like one of the time-lapsed icebergs you might watch forming on Frozen Planet, but I’ve repeatedly been putting it down to a phase; to an inevitability; to a transitory part of the grieving that must inescapably come with a life-changing curveball such as this. But, lately, it’s become a little more than that – oh, who am I kidding, it’s become a LOT more than that – making me, with each passing day, more and more bitter and resentful and someone’s-really-going-to-get-it-one-day-soon angry. And I must have been a sodding nightmare to live with.
That said, for a while P joined in too; the pair of us uniting in our Hulk-like fury at the universe for doing this to us, bitching into the early hours about the unfairness, the disbelief, the rage, the hardship, the heartbreak, the injury, the you’ve-got-to-be-fucking-kidding-us piss-take of a malicious helping of injustice when there are so many malevolent motherfuckers out there who this could – sod it, should – have happened to instead of us; lovely, lovely us. But, for P at least, the phase turned out to be just that, soon passing to make way for more a helpful, practical means of keeping on – admittedly, with the anger still hidden away somewhere for the times when a rant or a purge or a cry is needed – but hidden, both from view and from character. My anger, however, went nowhere. And it started to make me seriously question my mindset, because it just wasn’t just turning me into a horrible cow of a shouty miserablist, it was taking away my fight, too – to a level where the words ‘I just can’t see the fucking point any more’ didn’t just enter my head, but spat their way out of my foul mouth.
I found myself getting increasingly furious with situations, with results, with inanities, with P, with family, with friends, with text messages, with Twitter followers, with Facebook posters, with crisp packets, with bedsheets. I was dreaming up fantasy showdowns with people I care deeply about, drawing up imaginary don’t-think-I-haven’t-noticed lists of the folk who I deemed not to have been present enough, concocting horribly spiteful put-downs for the next dickhead who gawped at me while I was out in the wheelchair. And what’s more, it was making the simple act of just behaving normally – of just acting like a reasonable human being – supremely bloody difficult, using up laborious, back-breaking efforts which, to state the perfectly sodding obvious, would have been put to significantly better use elsewhere.
And so, to cut a lengthy and exhausting story of further unspeakable anger rather short, it culminated a couple of nights ago when, after receiving a heartfelt and exceptionally kind batch of ‘another four-fucking-hundred how-are-you-feeling messages’, I completely lost it. Like I haven’t done yet. And, finding my partner in rage unwilling to indulge me in yet another late-night bitchfest of wholly unreasonable conversation, I lost it some more.
I’m not prepared to go into details about what happened next (as much out of shame at my conduct than privacy), but let’s just say that it took rather more than an ill-advised succession of anti-anxiety pills to calm me down. What eventually did mollify me, however, with the help of P – and, through his levelheaded words, everyone else I hold dear – was facing up to something I’d known all along: I’m just not like this. Nor do I want to be like this. It’s not how I do things; it’s not how I think; it’s not the right way to go about keeping myself well and, ultimately, it’s just not me – be that the blog-me, or the real-me, or whoever and whatever the heck makes up who I am. Yes, the boundaries may sometimes be blurred between the character and the person but please, please believe me when I say that neither girl wants to be this way. Because, fundamentally, down to the very tiniest particles of my DNA, this furious bile is simply not in my character.
I’m not a person who holds on to anger; I’m a person who holds on to love. I love love! It’s the whole point; what it’s all about; all you need! And I love loving! I love talking about how much I love loving! I love loving like a glorious Glastonbury afternoon; like a Sunday-morning lie-in; like my twinkly and painstakingly decorated Christmas tree; like a like a fat kid loves cake! And if all of that wasn’t puke-generating enough, I even love being the flagrantly rose-tinted sap of an optimist who shamelessly has people shaking their heads and rolling their eyes at her naïve brainfarts on what love means and on what love should be and on the glorious people who have made her love what it is.
I love banging on about how in love I am with my family and my friends and – my favourite banging-on of all – my husband. (My husband of five years tomorrow, as it happens.) I love that I continue regardless despite people’s baffled amusement as I blithely natter away about love as though it were as comfortable a conversation as telling someone your weight or your bra size or the consistency of your last poo. And I love that I got to see that amusement in action this week during my blood transfusion, on the faces of P and our friend Nicole (who, incidentally, is the so-talented-we-can’t-believe-we’ve-got-her-onside screenwriter charged with the task of turning The C-Word into a TV drama) who was not only good enough to hang out with us and eat sandwiches while two bags of the A+ good shit pumped their way into my veins, but also to introduce us to rugelach, a confectionery so ruddy delicious I can’t quite believe I’ve made it to 32 without eating. (In fact, so enamoured am I with the cinnamony sweetstuff that I’d even go to far as to state that rugelach-deficiency is probably the whole reason I got cancer.)
But back to the lurve thang. That aforementioned bafflement at my hopeless soppiness was an almost-suppressed look I caught in both of their eyes while I held court from my IV, particularly when our chatter turned to The Most Fun Conversation In The World: who, in a dream scenario, would play P in the TV adaptation. As it goes, P is the one character for whom I’ve struggled to come up with a dream actor (and no, I’m not divulging my thoughts on the rest). Which is precisely why my contribution to said conversation was: ‘Y’know, I’ve actually never had anyone in mind for P. I s’pose my concern is only that, whoever it is, it’s someone that people will completely and utterly fall in love with. Memorably so. I just think it’s important that everyone’s totally smitten by him, because he’s the hero.’ Yes, friends: these are the kinds of things I say out loud.
P visibly squirmed in his chair, giving it all the ‘seriously-love-you’ve-got-to-stop-telling-people-how-perfect-I-am-cos-I’m-just-a-normal-bloke’ shizzle, and Nicole just smiled subtly, doubtless making script notes in the iPad of her mind about how much of a hopelessly dorky romantic I must come across compared to the rest of the rational-thinking world. The thing is, I’m well aware of how embarrassing I can be when I get like that. I suppose I’m just like one of those mortifying parents who dances with their elbows, unashamedly carrying on and making a tit of herself without a care for whoever’s having to bear uninvited witness to the carnage of humiliation. But, embarrassing as my absurdly dreamy worldview may be (so car-crash embarrassing, apparently, that it’s grown bandy legs and bagged its own telly-optioned rights), I want to be like that. I want to be dorky and childlike and unguarded. I want to be the kind of puerile idiot who risks higher falls because of her hopefulness in even the most unimaginable of crappy situations, and I want to enjoy it. Because, faced with a choice between dweeby optimism and festering anger, I know which way I’d rather live.
That said, of course, I could very easily turn all of the above into more resentment; resentment at The Bullshit for forcing a burgeoning rage into my otherwise candy-floss brain. Perhaps it’s the brain tumour itself that’s doing it, quite literally secreting cancerous drops of bitterness into my mind in its predestined pursuit of victory? And fuck it if it is. Fuck it in the bum. Fuck it in the ear. Because, as I can see more easily today – and doubtless will need to work much harder to see another time – that’s exactly what it wants. But I’m buggered if I’m going to roll over and turn into the miserable bastard it wants me to be. Oh no, me and my army and my treatment and my loves are going to put up the mother of all scraps. And given the positive news that, since my blood transfusion on Monday, both my biochemistry and blood results have fought themselves back up to let’s-kick-some-ass levels, I’ve got all the ammo to do it.
As a result (of a total result), yesterday’s was, dare I say it, even a pretty fun chemo. My favourite nurse was looking after me (the one from the book with the naughty sense of humour who calls cannula needles ‘little feckers’), and both P and my folks were around to keep me company and giggle at episodes of Outnumbered on the laptop. We bought cakes for the day-unit staff, and ate sausage butties and Fox’s glacier mints. We even got fast-tracked by the unusually chirpy sister and made it out of the hospital quicker than we’ve ever done before! Mum and Dad went shopping and bought me a fluffy hat! We had cheese and biscuits when we got home! Sgt Pepper was on top cuddle-form! The words ‘orgasmic’ and ‘arousing’ came up on Countdown! (Eh up, she’s exclamation-marking it again.) All of which, I suppose, is my hopelessly romantic way of saying – in the words of Felice Taylor – that it may be winter outside, but in my heart it’s spring. And so I stayed mindful of the levelheaded, anger-soothing words from those who care – as told through the lips of my husband – and happily, lovingly, assumed my best Bullshit-beating defence by gooning my way through the day: cracking inappropriate jokes with my favourite nurse, making indecipherable conversation with the chatty fruitloop in the waiting room, tripping over my wheely IV on the way to the loo, making fun of Dad…
‘Oi you, stop taking the piss,’ he said, before adding one of his signature (and equally piss-taking) lines: ‘I’m a very sensitive person, you know.’
‘Yeah, course you are,’ I said.
‘Actually, Lis…?’ he began to ask.
‘Never stop taking the piss. Because then I know you’re all right. Then I know it’s still you.’
And so, although it’s The Bullshit that’s occasionally responsible for dragging me down into the angry depths that I’d rather not see, it’s the people I love who pull me back out again. What has the capacity to make me doubly angry, therefore, is that it’s they who have to bear the brunt. I want to be lovely to them, not angry with them. I want them to know, every second of the day – just as I know in return – how much I think of them, and I want them to continually feel how much they’re appreciated and idolised and respected... and loved, like nobody before could ever possibly have been loved.
So when I say that today I’m writing for me, I guess what I actually mean is that I’m writing for them. Because, whether or not it eventually makes the holy grail of your TV screen, The C-Word drama adaptation isn’t, in fact, about what’s going on in my dorky, lovestruck mind; it’s about them. Because, you see, they are my mind. They are me.