Monday, December 13, 2004

No whining

Yesterday, I told Judy I miss my hair, and she mentioned it to me again right before we went to sleep.

"When I said, 'I miss my hair,' I meant 'I miss myself.'"

"I know that's what you meant."

It is helpful to have someone around who knows what you mean. But it is hard, too. You can't really fool them, and you might spend a lot of time and effort trying to anyway.

And, I guess, I have been trying, sometimes. I still can't let go of the notion that I should be strong for her, for the family. That I should smile bravely, crack a rueful but hopeful remark, and charge up the hill with my "great positive attitude."

Sometimes, though, I'm just too tired. Or too weak.

Or I can't think of anything to say.


So, Judy suggested I might want to find someone else to talk to about what's going on in my head. A professional.

This is a new idea for me.

I have long been an advocate of counseling - for other people. One of my best friends is a counselor. I've seen it produce great results.

I just always felt that somebody like me - the opposite of a private person - was, if anything, a little TOO in touch with my thoughts and feelings, especially where they concerned my favorite subject - me.

On the other hand, Judy is without a doubt, one of the smartest and most intuitive people I know. And, next to me, she has probably spent more thought on me than anyone else.

And this is the first time she's ever suggested counselling to me.

Despite this blog, despite my openness with Judy and the other great people around us, there probably are some thoughts and emotions I could use some help with. While far from dominant in my mindscape, the possibility of my death is hard to discuss with anybody, and especially with Judy, but the issue has a certain weight that it did not have prior to my diagnosis. Also, with all the encouragement I receive (and need) for my "great positive attitude," it seems disloyal to bleed off some of the less positive thoughts and emotions from time to time by giving them vent.

I don't know whether I'll pursue counselling or not, and I may not disclose here whether I do.

But I will think about it.


Blogger Karen Davis said...

Jim - in your situation, it would be impossible to not feel an obligation (and desire) to constantly be strong for Judy and your family, and to remain positive for your support network. I think your wonderful, wise wife has an excellent suggestion - seek an outlet where you don't need to worry about anyone except you. That's not selfish - it's another tool to help you process everything you have to deal with. I went through counselling at a very difficult time in my life and it was a huge help for me.

Bottom line - just be you and do what works for Jim. We all love and support you no matter how you're feeling or how you choose to deal with it.

With love and encouragement, your ever optimistic friend - Karen

8:48 AM  
Blogger Kita28 said...

Dear Jim –

Look, I made it onto the blog!

I don’t think that when anyone praises you for your “great positive attitude,” that they mean for you to be unrealistic. There’s a difference between being courageous and being a naïve Pollyanna. I think that what has drawn people to your blog (not the ones like me who already loved you, but the other unexpected ones you’ve talked about) is your honesty. And you wouldn’t be honest if you didn’t express negative emotions like fear, anger, and sometimes “why me?”

That being said, I’m not telling you to share things that you don’t want to share on the blog. I think the counselor is a great idea. There you can talk about things without worrying about the ramifications of what you’re saying on the person listening. But I don’t think that anything you write in your blog could be disloyal, if it is true to what you are thinking and feeling. That’s why I check it every day ….to see how you’re really doing. Otherwise you could just say, “Fine, thanks, and how are you?”

Sending lots of love and prayers from Herndon,


8:55 AM  
Blogger Suzy Secretary said...

I miss your hair too. (And, of course, I mean that I miss YOU, not your hair.)

I'm a big advocate of counselling. I'm a product of thousands of dollars of therapy and look what it's done for me!

Wishing you courage, my friend, to change the things you can.
You are in my thoughts and prayers every single day.
Love, Susan

9:24 AM  
Blogger Dorrie said...

As an extravert I fully understand your need to talk it out. And it's a terrible thing to muzzle yourself when you need to get the thoughts out in order to work them out. Call me if you want to vent. Or, like Kita said, dump it all out on the blog. I want to be strong for you, let me share the burden of the thoughts that are weighing you down...

11:57 AM  
Blogger vkenny said...

Hi Jimmy, There are no right or wrong feelings or emotions when you are fighting for your life and the life of your family. When you & Judy were married you both made vows to each other and sometimes one person must carry the load for both. I don't think anyone reading you blog is expecting sunshine & roses everyday, I more than anyone know that is just not reality when fighitng cancer. I know how hard it has been for Ed to no longer be able to work & contribute the way he feels a man should, but I have taken the load for him, so he has had time to adjust to a new life, it may not be the life he thought we would have as a couple, but it is our life and in the end I would much rather have him with me than not. I also understand
the difficulty discussing death but you can handle it,
there is not much choice. Stay Strong V

1:21 PM  
Blogger bonnie said...


You are strong, confident and always optimistic. But even the very "strong as a bear" needs to be share negative thoughts and emotions with someone that doesn't have a vested interest in your happiness and well being. Being strong for the ones we love is a blessing and a burden and Judy is a very wise woman, who you are blessed to have and she knows you better than anyone. Counseling helps and is very personal. The blog is one type of counseling but deeper counseling may be needed in the emotions that are rolling out. Remember focus on the things you can change and acknowledge the things you can't. We love you and are praying daily for the return of "me"


3:00 PM  
Blogger Jyothi said...

Jim, Dr. Vernon Sylvest, M.D. regularly gives lectures on A Course in Miracles. From his most recent lecture--imagine you've drawn a circle on paper. The outer circle represents the "ego ideal" which is the false self--composed of how we have identified ourselves in this world through our accomplishments, our name, bank accounts, social status, physical appearance, our bodies, etc. This is not the real you or the real me. The body is just the vehicle we use to travel around on planet earth. When we are faced with having to give up this notion of the false self, we are terrified and we become depressed, even suicidal. Only by experiencing that sadness and that loss (which is only the loss of an illusion) do we "pierce the veil" of the ego ideal to the center of the circle where our true Self exists which is all LOVE and JOY. I believe Jesus allowed himself just for a moment to experience that sadness when he cried out on the cross, "My God, why have you forsaken me?" but then he returned to his Higher Consciousness of Love and Joy and even blessed those who were crucifying his body--"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." May you know your true Self and celebrate your oneness with God. Here is a Prayer for Protection for your journey:
The Light of God surrounds you;
The Love of God enfolds you;
The Power of God protects you;
The presence of God watches over you.
Wherever you are, God is, and all is well.

Thanks for your emails years ago with John Milton quotes! Much love to you always through eternity.
Signed: Just another English major trying to survive in a law firm!

6:12 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Jim, I tried to type this in this morning; I type too slowly to accommodate the myriad responses this post invoked. And I was not smart enough (that time!) to prepare this off-line so the blog monster wouldn’t delete it just prior to posting. That won’t happen again!

First, go ahead, think about it. You’ve just gotten some great insight into counselors from the above posts. My view is they facilitate your exploration of inner self issues and help you articulate what you are feeling deep down but may not give voice to. “So how do you feel about that?!?” I personally think you would blow the counselor away with your depth of personal understanding, but I also think you’d really enjoy a session or two focusing on “Me” nuances!

Second, you are supposed to be “strong” for the family. But I think strong means a lot of things not stoic. You are dependable, level, thoughtful, considerate, kind, etc. These are all things that make you strong and actually define you. In other words, you think you may be doing it for your family (and you are) but you are also doing it simply because that’s the type of “Guy” you are (and why you were able to “land” Judy). You wouldn’t know how to do anything else.

Third, your “great positive attitude” is not a façade. Rather it is a manifestation of your strength fed from the attributes above and fortified with your faith in God, family and friends. Just because you’re tired or weak, doesn’t mean the positive attitude and strength is not there; rather it enables you to rest and recoup for the next round. We need to be comfortable with silence and reflection. Now I know it’s hard for you to come to grips with not being able to think of something to say (and can think of only occasion where I was told you were speechless). But, we common folk do that a great deal. And you always know how to smile and hug.

Fourth, damn right you’re tired (Buddy Guy?). And you should be. You have been through a lot over these past 49 days. And Noah thought forty was tough! But as I look back over the last three or four entries and compare it to this one, I see you’ve rested up since Mr. 5 FU has blown town. I’m thinking I may actually see you Thursday night. One step at a time James Patrick.

Fifth, for whatever reasons (and maybe Tom Wolfe knows what they are) we just don’t spend time focusing on our personal demise. Many of us are so extreme in this issue avoidance that we don’t properly prepare for an untimely departure. Nonetheless, it is a responsible yet not necessarily pleasant conversation that should take place.

I like what you told me when you were in the hospital with the hematoba (sp?). It was something to the effect that having cancer required you to have a plan and work that plan. And plan for the unexpected so that when (not if, but when) it occurs the contingency plan is in place and immediately everyone springs into action. I guess the plan is really just a road map to get you to where you ultimately want to go and in life there are many alternate paths to get you to that intended destination (goal).

So I don’t think it’s in the least bit “disloyal” by articulating fears and concerns as verbalization will enable you to better develop the necessary contingencies so you can meet you ultimate goals.

“We all need someone we can lean on
And if you want to
You can lean on me…”

I believe in you, Jim.


10:59 PM  

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