Trinkets and Armor, 6: Don’t Be an Ass(umer)

I conjured the piece below 3 years ago, after an extremely intelligent and sexy and unbelievably modest wild woman invited her tribe to write a poem that let everyone glimpse into how they readied themselves before facing known troubles, and what they did to cope once mayhem had done its thing.

Last week, when a poet and friend inquired about how I dealt with a breast cancer diagnosis on top of Crohn’s disease and a busted hip and a messed-up shoulder and a bad back and… well, you get the point, I went ahead and sent him “I know How to Fall” as an answer. Later that night, after I finished reading my emails, I thought the same poem would be an appropriate response to Trinkets and Armor 6.

 

“I Know How to Fall”

I know how to fall
out of love in a flash,
almost
always
without skinning my heart

or breaking
my hubris’ bone.

I make list after list
(five days prior to the arrival of now)
and for each item, I create ‘What ifs…’

What if my lips are cracked and bloodied,
and I can’t wake the princess with a kiss?

What if exhaustion makes me thoughtless,
and I break the crystal coffin
without seeing what lies within?

What if gut and backbone turn against me,
and I can’t take three steps
without crying twelve howls and one shriek?

Unknowns must be roused properly,
coffins are too valuable to lose.
If my nerve leaves me,
I’ll run into the woods
and reclaim it.

I know how to fall
out of love
with what’s expected—

I practice.

 

…and now, Trinkets and Armor 6:

 

Some people have turned baseless assuming into a terribly destructive art. But don’t get me wrong, my Wicked Luvs, I totally understand that anyone can be an ass(umer) under the right (wrong?) conditions. Even moi (I know! I was shocked, too. I mean, we’ve all heard about my perfection, haven’t we?). Anyway *cough*, my latest erroneous assumption has to do with something I failed to make clear in “Shame is Useless for Living (but Excellent for Senryū)” or Trinkets and Armor 5.

In that post, I suggested that I won’t have time to entertain private questions about being ill, especially if I’ve already shared the relevant information on my blog. It seems that some of my friends thought I meant that they couldn’t contact me at all. I apologize, my Wicked Luvs. I was not trying to shut you out. I might not be able to reply right away all the time, but please know that my eyes and ears and heart remain open to you (you feed my ink and grins, remember?). I assumed that was understood…  and my assumption was wrong. Last week’s message was meant for the strange (and not in a good way) souls who have called or messaged me with the sort of crap quoted below (yes, every single one of those is a direct quotation):

– “It’s okay to be scared of cancer and want it out. But rushing into severe surgery is a mistake. Search the net before you decide…” My response: You obviously don’t know me. If you did, you’ve never oozed this kind of crap my way. You should search the net before assuming.

– “Don’t give up on reconstruction because you fear the pain. Pain is easier than stares. Trust me…” My response: Like the ass(umer) above, you don’t know me either. If you did, you’d know how stupid this sounds. Trust me.

– “Don’t be forced to get reconstruction because of a man. Your body, your choice. He can have an opinion when he’s the one suffering a woman’s problem…” My response: You aren’t just an ass(umer), but also a dumbass. The first because you dare to believe that you know anything about my relationship with my Piano Man. The second because, well… dearie, you do know that men have breasts too, right? Really. You should “search the net”.

– “There’re alternatives to being butchered by a doctor that only wants your money. Be smarter. I’ve read about many natural ways to cure cancer.  If I were you, I would try things that let me keep my breast first. If that doesn’t work, you can always do the other thing later…” My response (okay, this is mostly my Piano Man’s response *he did NOT appreciate that particular pearl of wisdom*): How is betting [my] life on what some idiot has “read” about “curing” cancer be “smart”? Maybe she can try that sort of treatment on her rotted brain. Um… it’s likely that the last bit was all me *cough…*.

I know, I know… those responses were neither pretty nor constructive. This is the reason why I didn’t offer them as a reply to the actual messages. I am sharing them here, so that you can see why I try to limit chronic illness related conversations to public platforms. Not just because most people’s foolishness tends to decrease a degree (or 2) when shared publicly, but… also because if they are posted here, one (or 13) of you might assist me in offering a proper response to their madness (yep, I’m a terrible individual who takes advantage of her dear friends’ aversion to stupidity).

 

This week, T&A Warriors *slightly naughty giggles* have two options: 1. share a bit about how you ready yourself before facing known (or unknown) troubles; or, 2. tell us about how you handle uninformed (and often dangerous) advice from well-meaning people who don’t really know what they are talking about). Please remember that your entries don’t have to be about illness. I keep on revisiting this topic simply because that’s where I am right now. Write about what matters to you.

To participate in Trinkets and Armor, please add the direct link to your entry at the end of your comment. If you don’t have a blog or a public platform, or don’t wish to write a post, just add your contribution as a comment. If you can, take a minute to read other entries. Unrelated links will be deleted without explanation.

Linked to Poets United.

 

Trinkets and Armor, 5: Shame is Useless for Living (but Excellent for Senryū)

Someone once told me something about sarcasm being cheap, right before asking why I preferred senryū over haiku. I ignored her cheap jab, and answered, “Because sarcasm and satire with human bits in them are the perfect tools in a world where everything is either screaming or mouthless.” I still believe those words and these, too: “Sarcasm helps me overcome the harshness of the reality we live, eases the pain of scars and makes people smile.” ~ Mahmoud Darwish

 

So… smile at this threesome, my Wicked Luvs:

my cancer hurts you?
oh, I know, I feel your pain
splitting my right boob

coping is so hard,
my pain hurts you much deeper
because you aren’t me

no, my darling nut,
I shan’t be prey to more ills—
I’m kicking you out

 

If you are visiting from the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads and wished to read only the poetry, feel free to skip the next bit. For the rest of you, my Wicked Luvs…

…here is Trinkets and Armor 5:

 

If we’ve had more than a handful of conversations, or if you’ve read my blog for a little while, then you’ve probably heard me say things like: “stick it to stigma” and “guilt is a drag” and “politeness that threatens tranquility is a life-suck”, and yes… you’ve also heard me rant (quite vividly) about the uselessness of shame enticed by someone else’s expectations or lack of imagination or superabundance of stupidity.

After I posted “No Caress; or, Boob Talk”, I received a message (or 3) from people who might have some serious reading comprehension issues, or… perhaps, they’ve taken self-absorbed to an egocentric level that not even my well-known narcissistic ways can fully comprehend. I was gentle with one or two of them, but when certain individual suggested that I had to allow him or her access to me so that they could find the best way to process my breast cancer diagnosis, I lost all sense of coolness.

I just exploded. I wouldn’t be surprised if that individual’s tympanic membrane has not recovered. And… I shared my fiery feelings with my Piano Man, with a friend, with several healthcare providers, and with a gentleman who was diagnosed on the same day I was. After he finished wiping the tears of laughter (you see, my Wicked Luvs, it seems that rants made in Spanglish and shouted at a gazillion miles an hour can be seriously humorous) he told me, “I wish I could tell some people to give me space, but I don’t know if I could live with the shame.”

The comment made no sense to me, and I told him so. Then he explained where he is originally from, said that his parents and relatives would probably stop talking to him if he shamed them by being impolite… The more he shared, the more outraged and sadder I felt for him. After he confessed that he had even considered not telling anyone about his illness, I just hugged him. “Dude”, I said, “one must do what one must to get through this mess. If I were you, I would try to figure out which one is more difficult to achieve. Then I’d go for the one that requires the least amount of energy. Once the breast cancer is under control, then it might be time to stick it to a lifetime of society-pimped shame. But… since I’m not you, feel free to ignore me.”

I don’t know what he has decided to do. But I do understand that his position is an incredibly complex and painful one. I feel terrible for this man… and disgusted by the reasons behind his emotional troubles. Family, community, culture and such… should be about love, protection, and comfort for the group and for its individuals. But… we all know how ridiculous this thought reads, if placed next to some of the beliefs and ideals some families and larger groups have embraced.

As you can see by the tone of the last bit, I am still slightly pissed off. When one is host to a disease (or 5) that take almost everything out of one’s mind and body, one should not have to worry about hurting people’s feelings. The damn thing shouldn’t even be an issue. And, you know what? Those who truly care about you don’t make it an issue. They might want to be with you 24/7, but they do what they must to be sane (and caring enough) to help your immune system fight the grim reaper.

If you must spend every second of every day battling depression or Crohn’s or necrosis or a nerve disorder or bipolar disorder or cancer or whatever your health demon happens to be, those who say they care about you should have the decency to do their very best to fight the pain your disease causes them in a way that doesn’t worsen your illness. That, my Wicked Luvs, would be true politeness in my book.

Anyone who can’t feel bad about me being sick without making their suffering another thing I have to deal with, will be gently removed from my sight. Any person (other than a child, since they don’t know any better) who has the nerve to try to make me feel guilty about not helping them cope with my cancer won’t be treated as gently. They might not even get a sick joke as my door hits their cheeks.

 

This week, I invite you to share a wee bit (or a whole lot) on how you deal with people (groups, society…) that make you choose between your health (physical, psychological, spiritual…) and their peace of mind. Write a post, or a poem, or a story, or paint a picture and tell me about its meaning… do what works for you.

 

To participate in Trinkets and Armor, please add the direct link to your entry at the end of your comment. If you don’t have a blog or a public platform, or don’t wish to write a post, just add your contribution as a comment. If you can, take a minute to read other entries. Unrelated links will be deleted without explanation.