boundaries and cancer

This is about Feelings. so, bit dull.  i can also talk about my cancer cough too though – warning for ear nose throat related grossness.


it is hard for me to put up boundaries, to be honest.

i used to do an exercise with my psychotherapist years ago, where i would imagine myself in a house. and the house would be me.  the house had a hedged fence with a gate that swung right open, and a wide open door, and the house was filled head to toe with crap i didn’t want.  i learned to mentally work with imagining people coming to my door, and giving them back their crap, respectfully, and throwing away the crap that was of my own creation. (look at poo joke lol)

now, it’s not that bad. i feel like the fence is fixed, the door at least closes, and i’m slowly cleaning out the junk to the point where some of the rooms are comfortably cluttered rather than filled with hoarded stuff. (i have a lot of hoarding tendencies i am extremely careful to not give into).

but this leads me to the difficulty i have setting boundaries and saying when someone has crossed them. i really, really struggle to do this, especially in the case of very potent argumentative, or people who intimidate in on one level or another.

so, this isn’t about anyone else, or anyone else’s actions. this is about me, learning how to set boundaries without worrying about making someone angry at me.  their emotions are not my responsibility.  but i have a deep fear and paranoia that, if someone is angry at me, they’ll go on attack mode. i’m not a complete walk-over, and i do try and outline things clearly.  but sometimes i struggle to assert myself. i did with someone i find very difficult to assert myself with, twice during the week – respectfully drawing a firm line, and having them respect it in turn.

how do i make myself feel safe, and make people understand what i need without feeling extremely rude? how do i work out if someone is being malicious, or if they are just genuinely being totally clueless about something hurtful and cruel? do i feed it if i tell them it’s out of line? how honest can i be without worrying about making someone angry? and how do i deal with my emotions when it’s already too late, and the insensitive thing has been said or done? how do i just let it go? i guess i imagine the person who did it, coming to my door, and me giving those words back to them.  and letting them walk away.

i need to lock the damn door and put up a sign listing things that are really dumb to do and say. things that i kinda thought people might have intuitively known, but clearly not. i know not everyone has read my ‘how to talk to people with cancer about cancer’ entry.  so i can’t expect everyone to be a mind-reader. but i honestly thought most of that was just common sense.  clearly not.

people have been so overwhelmingly incredible to me during this whole process. without the support i’ve had, i don’t even know how i’d do it. i don’t know how anyone could do it.  when i think about people, i need to think about this, rather than the moments of sharp daggers and misplaced words, and things that hurt or upset or anger me.  it is hard. i think it is always hard to do that.

one thing i’ve not mentioned is my infernal barking cough.  it’s vile.  it’s because one of the chemo drugs makes mucous production go Great Guns.  including nose. so it’s not on my chest, but constantly irritating the back of my throat, ending in this infuriating feeble Bark of a cough, that’s a bit embarrassing. it’s like a wheezing old dog. it was much better today at least.  the fever is still kicking around.  go cytotoxins! kill! kill! i’m cheering for you, little guys, and your new little friends joining you on monday.

also, my hair is shedding as much as the cats, but that equally could be because i’ve been terrible at brushing it.  though i have started wearing things that aren’t tracksuit pants places, now i feel a bit more human about the whole thing.


About elizabeth

various things.
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6 Responses to boundaries and cancer

  1. Mani Kais says:

    “wearing things that aren’t tracksuit pants places”. You are lovely, and so naturally inventive. It’s so thoughtful how you let us in and help understand. It must take the most enormous amount of patience and reflection. And strategising when it comes to difficult situations. I don’t know how you manage (I’ve seen many who don’t) to think of how OTHER people are feeling about the things they say to you when you are living the situation. To bother to find the way to say “I know your motivations are helpful (even if they aren’t) but I just can’t hear this right now.” You’re brave, you’re gutsy, you laugh at yourself, and you STILL have so much concern for the feelings of the people around you. If we could all be this way. xxx

    • veritas says:

      i actually write these very quickly – i just BLURT out what’s in my head and don’t even check for grammar. (there are a lot of grammar errors in here, i am sure.

      with a lot of the meaner stuff, to be honest, the problem is less about them, and just about me. my reaction is the problem. if i just let it wash over me and ignored it, then it would be no issue. it’s that i hold onto it and dwell. dumb things. sigh. i’ll get through it.

      thank you always, Mani. x

  2. Alison says:

    I think it isn’t only ok to be protective in who you engage with and how, but probably necessary. I don’t know if you need to distinguish between clueless and mean, if the impact on you is the same, shutting it down and avoiding the person seems ok to me. Other people’s learning isn’t your responsibility right now, and the nice clueless ones will work it out themselves. It is what nice people do eventually. I’m terrified of people being angry with me, so I have no advice on that front, except that I’ve always figured for me, sooner or later, I have to get unterrified of it.
    I was the victim of a random, violent assault several years ago. While my closest peeps were amazing, some of the things that clueless lovely people said to me in the aftermath are still with me, and not in a good way. I don’t feel badly about those people as a consequence, but the words simply made the whole thing worse. It’s one of the reasons I never talk about it. So I’d err on the protective side.
    On a lighter note – I don’t entirely trust archivists and collection librarians who aren’t hoarders. It is our job to collect all the things! You have to want to collect all the things!

    • veritas says:

      in light archiving news, i just spent the whole day organising all my Cancer Paperwork into a folder. i’d been dreading it. as soon as i started though, i totally got in the zone, and it ended up being a really fun couple of hours. you can take the archivist out of the archive, but you cant take the archiving out of the archivist.

      i’m so sorry to hear about your assault. i think so many people try and say a lot – or talk to overcompensate for their nervousness, and fear, that this could happen to them, or out of sympathy – that dumb stuff comes out sometimes. but it doesn’t make it easier, and it sure doesn’t make the comments forgettable.

      i don’t know how to unterrify myself. i just fear getting slandered, or pissing off someone ‘important’ or ‘influential’ who then makes other people hate me, or pissing off someone aggressive. there’s quite a few people and situations i’m trying to shut down from right now – not react, not engage, not participate, not respond. it feels a lot easier than it is to do though. :/ i guess you learn with time. thank you as always for your comments. you always have something both insightful and kind to add. xxx

  3. Nikhilā says:

    Can i just say that my earlier tweet about being apprehensive about the trip is in no way related to seeing you. Just to clarify. It’s to do with work and stuff. I’m really looking forward to seeing you and hope you didn’t take my tweet the wrong way (I read into EVERYTHING, usually, and draw terrible conclusions, so I’m really sorry if that’s what happened!)

    I’ve been wondering at your cough since you first mentioned it, just because I have a constant cough, and have had at least since i was a teenager. So when you mentioned a cough, I wondered if it might be a chemo thing.

    The building barriers thing is hard. And I am really tired and have tried to articulate something about barriers several times now and ended up rambling and off topic each time. So I think I should just tell you that you’re awesome, and that I’ll see you soon! (and goodnight!)

    • veritas says:

      don’t worry – haven’t been online today – but thanks for letting me know. work can definitely be a cause of apprehension – i completely understand your feelings.

      the cough is a side effect of having a constant post nasal drip i think – i’ve been told it’s one of the most common side effects. URGH.

      can’t wait to see you! what days are you down again?

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