Sublimation and distraction

I cried in front of my psychiatrist last week. I feel like I’ve reached the end of something, that things are finally calming down even though I know there hasn’t been enough time to say that, but I just feel like I can breathe easier, but I still know I’m on the rollercoaster and the train is going to tip over the precipice soon and I have to trust that the tracks will still be there. I told him it was strange, that I was feeling so calm and level finally but was still crying. He said it was good, that I was letting myself feel bad about what’s happened in this last year. I feel like all I’ve been doing is crying over this last year. 

He tells me that I am more flexible and resistant. That I’ve learned something about the world that many if not most of his patients never achieve. I don’t know what it is. Complacency? Calm? I should ask him.

Working distracts, writing sublimates.

We’ve talked for a year about learning to die. Now he says we are dealing with how to live. In some ways I prefer the first year’s course matter. I’m not prepared to talk about what thrums through my brain, through my body all the time. My obsessions and shortcomings are embarrassing and I don’t know why I can’t be resilient and simply deal with them.

Instead I distract and sublimate.

I know he knows it. I can tell he knows when he looks at me but I can’t bring my eyes up, or when I glance away when our eyes meet. He has said to me more than once, I feel you want to say something, but the words just stay caught in my throat. I glance up, cast my eyes down, shrug my shoulders. I don’t know, I say, I just can’t…

I want to be the type of person who simply takes what they want and lives free of regret, but you can’t take what you want just because you want it.

I’ve spent so much time trying to figure out what it means to be faced with an incurable disease that I’ve forgotten that, for the time being, I’m living with a controlled disease which means I have to focus on living, whatever that means to me.

I’m leaving for the OMG Summit for young adults with cancer tomorrow. I’ll be in Vegas for a week, hopefully not crying my face off the entire time. Being around that many cancer-affected people is a real soul-crushing bummer sometimes.

In the meantime, if you haven’t read it already, I suggest you read this excerpt of an essay I wrote for Little Brother Magazine which ran on Joyland. Then you should subscribe to the magazine so you can find out how it ends.

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About Alicia Louise

I'm a writer, editor, fact checker, storyteller, events organizer, chronically busy yet endlessly lazy, mildly neurotic (though I keep the neuroses well-hidden, one hopes) 32-year-old with recurrent ovarian cancer. I like people and good writing and straight talk. I have a hard time feeling sorry for people, including myself, but the people that I love, I love passionately; one may even say creepily. I try to keep that mostly to myself. I'd like to be charming, but I'm usually just a mess. I'm like a gull slamming into your windshield.
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4 Responses to Sublimation and distraction

  1. Catherine says:

    Enjoy the conference and hopefully it will be more fun than emotional. And congratulations on the article. I’m going to go check it out.

  2. Alyssa Roberts says:

    Alicia, my heart goes out to you. Love and hugs, Alyssa xx

  3. Terri in Kentucky says:

    I been thinkin’ about you lately and was happy to see you have a new post up, because I am so bad at remembering the URL. You’re not the only one who can’t deal with her shortcomings. I blame the patriarchy.

  4. deanne says:

    One of the first things my therapist asked me a year or so ago was, are you preparing to live or are you preparing to die. This was pretty intense because, I thought I was preparing to live, to (arrrgghhh) fight the good fight (as everyone kept prodding me to) but it turns out that I was preparing to die. Which I am, still, with as much living (read: going out and eating and drinking with friends; spoiling myself and my dog; and traveling) as possible. Good for you for going to the conference – I’d not have had the courage, in the same way that I tend to avoid other cancer support groups. Thanks for this, again.

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