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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Real Life

I have a friend who's significant other has cancer. For the fourth time.

I need to digress a little here and offer an opinion and a belief that I have acquired over the years. One day, someone else, is going to be you. You are going to be someone else for the rest of us one day. That's how it works. We plan and envision all the good things in life. We ignore the bad things. When the bad things come we are lost in a desert of negative emotions.

Failing to plan, or ignoring the bad things will not make them go away. They will still visit you with or without a plan. Your ability to accept them, fight or no fight, and overcome them quickly will depend on your emotional preparation.

I cannot tell you how demoralizing it must be to fight cancer with radiation and surgery three times and survive it. Then get diagnosed with it a fourth time. This time around, she has selected a different kind of approach to combat it. Since the first three battles were won, her significant other believes she should stay with the method that has worked.

He is distraught and a little angry. To stay vigilant and emotionally free takes hard work and effort. This is real life and while its not always pretty, it is somewhat predictable. If we can predict emotionally difficult times-then we can plan and prepare for them. We can risk manage them as they occur. This situation is no different. It's a very serious situation with possible adverse outcomes and death.

We cannot control the exterior world. What others do is up to them. When we cannot get others to do what we want we are experiencing a lack of control. Loss of power and control is fear based. We fear the outcome if people do not behave in a way that we see fit. Loss of control thus manifests itself in many fear based emotions such as the very emotional fear my friend is experiencing. He may fear a lot of things, but he fears loss. And because he fears the loss of a loved one, and he is unable to control the course of action, he is frustrated.

He has a belief system. That's it. He believes what has worked three times must work four times. That is simply not always true. It may or may not be true in any given instance. We just don't know. We never do until its time for the last analysis.

Control is an illusion. We are never really in control of anything other than ourselves. Sure, there are times when you may feel some sense of power and control over your children, or your spouse, or your employees, or your work product. A sense of order and productivity. Teamwork. But the real devastating news, life altering and life changing, is often beyond our control. At those times, we feel guilt, sadness, inadequacy, remorse. We feel emotional pain. If only we could have done something different. If only we had control, the result would be different. It is illusory, brought on by all the little things we have control over.

What others do, has nothing to do with us. Often the best we can do is offer love and support. We accept life on life's terms. We accept the decisions of our loved ones. It does not require our agreement. But it does require understanding that it's ok for others to make good decisions and thus to make bad ones. And for us to get out of the way. We can offer some suggestions or advice along the way but we don't get personally hinged to someone elses decision, despite their standing oin our lives. There is no right or wrong way, smart or stupid way. Different ways perhaps. We make choices. It is not personal. It virtually never is.

I hope that my friend understands this. I hope that his gal wins another battle.

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