Wednesday 12 May 2010

With a little help...

I’m renowned for always being able to find something to worry about when I really ought to be worry-free. Having no worries to worry about tends to make me worry, which is worrying when you consider that having worries is, of course, far more worrying than having no worries at all. 

Or something.

Recently, though, I’ve been at it again – this time with my friends. There’s no getting away from the fact that I see them quite a bit more since I had The Bullshit, but lately I’ve been fretting about whether that’s only the case because of that diagnosis, and not just down to the natural order of thirtysomething friendships. At the height of my cancer treatment I joked that The Bullshit had made me popular – flowers, chocolates, visitors, cards – but, almost two years past diagnosis, are my friendships still defined by my illness?

It’s difficult to recall exactly how my friendships were pre-Bullshit – like trying to remember what it was like when you could smoke in pubs or pass back to the keeper – but what I do know is that, lovely as they were, they weren’t a patch on the closeness of today. I also know that The Bullshit changed how open my mates and I are with each other (we’re as much each other’s therapists as drinking buddies), and how affectionate we are, too. Even if we’ve seen each other just the day before, we hug like one of us has been on a two-year space mission, and phone conversations, emails and text messages so often finish with ‘love you’, as though we’re hopelessly lovestruck teenagers or closely related by blood.  

It does my mates a disservice that they’ve not often been talked about on this blog, but that’s really because – like my relationships with my husband and family – I only really like to offer up small nuggets for public consumption, rather than making you sick with an entire bargain bucket. But that related-by-blood comment back there isn’t an exaggeration – my close friends are as much my family as those who share my genes. Granted, it was P, Jamie and my folks who heard about my clear MRI result first, but it was my mates who learned the news immediately after – and whose relieved reactions made me realise how I felt about it, too.

Defeatist as it might sound, it wasn’t until hearing the words ‘nothing suspicious’ that I appreciated just how much I’d prepped myself for the alternative. Not just prepped – I’d utterly convinced myself that I had cancer. And so, with my mates’ help, it’s taken me this long to get my head around the fact that, actually, there’s nothing to worry about. (Again, even typing that makes me worry. Something about it seems wrong, or fate-tempting. There’s really nothing to worry about? Are you sure? Surely that in itself is something to worry about, no?)

My friends, however, have been busy snapping me out of it; getting me excited about upcoming holidays and parties, making brilliant plans for our futures and kicking me up the arse about getting more writing done – all the things I wasn’t quite able to imagine while I was busy convincing myself that my days were numbered. It’s completely wonderful – not to mention bloody lucky – and makes me feel as loved as I do on a daily basis by P and my family.

But here’s the worry. Would it be that way if I hadn’t had cancer? Do I see my friends more often because I once couldn’t see them much at all? Do their hugs squeeze me like a stress ball because it’s their way of holding onto me? Do they say they love me because they once had to consider losing me? Are they overcompensating for my illness in the same way I did when anticipating my MRI result?

Whatever the case actually is, there’s an argument to say that, even if the answer to all of those questions is, in fact, ‘yes’, who gives a shit? See, even if it is cancer that’s gifted me a friend-family that I’m as jammy as a dodger to call my own, then fine. I’ll take it. (And you know how reluctant I am to credit The Bullshit with anything positive.) So whether it worries me or not, I can’t help but conclude that I simply didn’t ought to care how that closeness came about. Because if incredible, cava-filled, life-defining, soppy-as-a-Spielberg-happy-ending friendships are what The Bullshit has done for me… then thank you, cancer.


Eve said...

This one gave me happy tears. Recently read your book (in 2 sittings of 2 hours no less, I couldn't do it fast enough!) and it's fantastic. Congratulations! And here's to lots more-to-not-worry-about. :) x

Anonymous said...

That's the spirit!!

- So, when is your next book coming?

(Also, I've been pretty much lurking for a year and thought I'd finally say hi! I just finished your book yesterday and I must say: You rock! What better way is there to stick a big fat middle finger up at The Bullshit than milking it to make your dream of being an author come true?)

Karen said...

New to your blog and just wanted to say, love it!! Can only begin to imagine what a tough ride you've had.

Your friends and family clearly thought you were fabulous before 'The Bullshit' or they wouldn't have supported you in the way that they have. People are nice but they're not that nice and would have stopped 'compensating' a long time ago if you weren't clearly totally amazing!! And what's wrong with a few extra hugs...xx

work from home said...

i found lots of stuf here.