Gratitudes, platitudes and the lack there of.

I’m writing this on the evening of Chemo 5, the new treatment option has a perk – vegetable brain kicks in a little slower. I thought I’d take advantage and write while the goings good. The only other perk I’ve noticed with chemo and I have been desperately trying to find one – no more cellulite, it actually has reversed. I’m wondering if I should write to the beauty magazines about it. Grasping at straws here….

I have been reading my old posts, which actually aren’t that old (but a lot can happen in only a few short months, as we’ve learnt), I read the earlier posts and I think to myself “gosh, how lovely and naive”.

There’s a photo I look at too (I think the last one to be taken pre diagnoses) I stare at this photo and my heart aches for that Polly, a women I liked a great deal but don’t feel I know anymore. She’s happy waiting for her mexican food, thinking of churros and hot chocolate to follow. Happy to be with the chap taking her photo.

I think it’s fair to say PollyGosh has hit a darker time. Inevitable really, I so wished to  be a sunny, funny positive light through all of this. I know it makes for a more reassuring read. I’d of loved to be a role model and a guide. Turns out I’m just someone kinda young, going through something hard and I’ve no idea how to handle it any better than anyone else.

I know the posts of late are difficult and unsettling. I’ve debated on occasion making Pollygosh a private and  truly personal space, but people are still reading, so I guess that time hasn’t come yet.

Though you wouldn’t know it at the moment, I’m a big advocate in practicing gratitude; talking to a neutral person, exercise and practising gratitude, are the 3 things I tried, that worked (in that order) to help bump me out of my depression last year.

I read, that to list of 3 things, each night, that you were grateful for could bring about the most positive change in your life. I’m not sure if that isn’t a little simplistic but it certainly helps. To acknowledge your luck etc is a fine way of ascertaining that not everything is as bleak as it could be.

I’ve found this hard of late. Which is hard for me to even admit to. When I wrote about grief, I wrote that simply because you are feeling it gives that feeling legitimacy. Sometimes it’s difficult to marry this view with what I’m feeling at the moment and with finding the gratitude.

The truth I’ve been afraid to write about is I’m not sure I’m even going to like myself very much after all this. It’s a little like being forced into a cocoon hoping for a butterfly but being equally sure a flesh-eating blow fly could emerge instead. A blow fly? What on earth am I meant to do with a blow fly?

I have lost my infinite patience, I have become bratty, bitchy and more forceful in my opinions. I get exasperated by other people’s inability to see how delicate life is, to cut through the petty problems, to look at the bigger picture and realise what they have. I’m not always as scared to voice my views either.

It’s funny the less inclined I am to practice gratitude the more evangelical I am that others should. I want to shake people. As my body is able to do less, I want others to do more. This summer, the worst feeling has been the idea that life is passing me by, things are moving on and I am simply unable to keep up.

Last year, while I was in the depths of despair, my father left an article by Caitlin Moran on my pillow. I believe it was called “advice to my 13-year-old daughter in the case of my death” or something like that. It’s brilliant. I still have it tattered and battered and folded away.

My favourite piece of advice “Stay at peace with your body. While it’s healthy, never think of it as a problem or a failure. Pat your legs occasionally and thank them for being able to run.”

Pat your legs occasionally. I love that. Totally forgot to do it but I love it.

So I thought to try to maintain some semblance of the person I liked, to hope for a butterfly, I’d finish with the list below.

My hard-fought, gratitude list:

1) That while I’m going through this intensely scary and tough treatment, I am safe in my bed; no coups, no bombs dropping, not worries about how the medicine I need with get to me.

2) That this is happening to me, not a loved one or a child of mine.

3) That prior to my death (which maybe the only, too late time it happens) I have witnessed an out pouring of love and support, the likes of which I’ve never known. It is humbling and precious.

4) My men, they carry the weight of all this. They do it without complaint, without an awful lot of help or recognition. That is love, I am most grateful for it.

5) The friends and family who email, ring and visit. The out of the blue flowers and care packages. I am always touched. It always lifts the mood to know that I am thought of.

6) The thought deep down, I don’t even know what yet, that something good must come out of all this.

7) My medical team, though presently what they tell me is deeply frustrating, I have always felt listened to and my feelings taken into consideration.

8) That my bounce back after Chemo 1 and 2 were sufficient that I could hold on to normalcy for longer.

9) That one night, 5 months ago when I wrote and published a blog post.

10) That this too will pass, maybe not as quickly as I hoped but sometime and the rebuilding of Polly 2.0 or 3.0 or 4.0 or whatever version we are on will commence.