I submitted my last post to Yahoo Associated Content, and it was chosen for publication: Blindsided: Navigating a Post-Cancer Life.
I waffled about submitting it. On the one hand, would it be selling out, exploiting a very personal issue for the sake of benefitting my dreams of being recognized as a writer? On the other hand, it could help someone out there – someone dealing with similar issues and possibly feeling very alone. The latter won out; I really want to do my small part to raise awareness about the other side of cancer.
With advances in technology and medicine, more and more people are surviving cancer nowadays. That’s a very, very good thing. However, with the increasing survival rate, a sector of people is growing with unique issues that just aren’t talked about much. How to go on from cancer? How to pick up the pieces of a broken existence? How to mend hearts and psyches and families who have been bulldozed by cancer and cancer treatment?
The first, and perhaps most important step, I think, is to acknowledge it and talk about it.
Obviously, as I alluded to in that post, my own family is going through a very difficult time. It’s all rooted in the cancer Michael had two years ago, and the havoc it wreaked on our life long after the cancer was driven out of his body. For a long time, we just kept hoping that things would get better, that the pieces would fall back into place. But things continued to grow more and more difficult until we finally reached a breaking point. Things aren’t going to get better by themselves. There is help out there, but it requires a humbling of oneself, and reaching out. We are trying to pick up the pieces now, but it’s not easy.
If you or someone you care about is facing cancer, please be aware of the emotional impact of cancer, and the utter devastation it can inflict, not only on the cancer patient, but on everyone around them. There is help available, but you have to ask for it.
I hate Michelle Bachmann. Okay, I know “hate” is a strong word, and I don’t even know the woman, but every time I see a snippet of her on television or read about something she’s said, I want to slap the shit out of her.
When did all these extremist nut-jobs start entering politics, anyway? Has this always been the case and I just didn’t notice until the last decade or so, or is this a new phenomenon, possibly reflecting impending Armageddon?
Do you know that she not only believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, but that children of same-sex couples are “at-risk”? Maybe you agree with these sentiments. If you’re a Tea Partier yourself, or just a Republican, or perchance even just a Good Christian, you probably do.
Here’s the problem: first of all, without going into a big, long, ranty diatribe about the fact that “marriage” is a man-made institution and therefore there is no inherent definition; it is what society decides it is, and it has historically, and should continue to, evolve to reflect a changing society (remember, it wasn’t all that long ago that black people were by law not allowed to marry white people; and there was a time before that when black people weren’t even allowed to legally marry other black people! Yes, indeed, right here in the Good Old U S of A). This whole “marriage is between a man and a woman” bullshit is nothing more than thinly veiled prejudice cloaked in fake morality. It’s imposing one’s religious views on society – nothing more, nothing less. And it pisses me off.
Moving on to Ms. Bachmann’s other claim, though, that children of same-sex couples are at risk – how are they at risk? What, exactly, are they at risk of? She makes this claim, this vague but ominous sounding claim, and yet offers no specifics, and no facts, studies, or research to back it up. Oh yeah! I keep forgetting – she’s part of that special sector of society that gets to make ludicrous claims that have no evidence to back them up (um, have you heard about the invisible, all powerful guy in the sky who rules the universe?)!
I decided to do my own mini-research project. Are children of same-sex couples actually “at-risk”? Here’s a sampling of what I came up with:
Same-Sex Couples and Same-Sex Couples Raising Children in the United States (It is interesting that this particular study notes that, “Many people in same-sex couples look like Americans generally. Individuals in same- sex couples raising children, however, do not fare as well as their different-sex counterparts: they are less affluent, more racially and ethnically diverse, and hence particularly in need of the legal, social, and economic benefits of marriage.” Note that this is a statement about the individuals in the same-sex couple itself, not a statement about that couple’s children. Basically, though, people in same-sex couples don’t fare as well in society as their different-sex counterparts because they are not afforded the same rights and benefits as their different-sex counterparts. In other words, they suffer, not because they’re gay, but because they are subject to discrimination.)
In fact, I didn’t find a single article that supports the notion that children of same-sex couples are “at-risk.” And for the record, my search queries were neutral: “How do children of same sex couples fare?” and “Children of gay parents.”
I have gay friends, and some of them are raising children. I can tell you that they are just like us heteros: they buy groceries, they worry about money, they water their lawns, they wonder where to send their kids to school, they volunteer in their kids’ classrooms and attend PTA and Girl Scout meetings, they argue with their significant others, they complain about their extended families, they take their kids to the doctor, they take their kids to swimming lessons, they want to see their kids go to college and get married and have families of their own some day. They are not “deviant” or “immoral.” They’re people who generally have the same dreams and goals and values as anyone else – they just happen to be attracted to members of the same sex. They are not raising their kids in any deviant or immoral way.
Let’s talk about the kids who actually are “at-risk” – as evidenced by history and various studies (and by at-risk, I mean at risk for things like depression, low self-esteem, teen suicide, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, eating disorders, dropping out of high school, and the like):
- Kids of alcoholics
- Kids of drug abusers
- Kids of parents who inflict emotional abuse
- Kids of parents who inflict physical abuse
- Kids of parents who have unstable relationships
- Kids of families who live in poverty
- Kids who are subject to discrimination and prejudice
- Kids who are bullied
- Kids of uneducated parents
- Kids of unemployed parents
It’s funny . . . last year on our wedding anniversary, I wrote something heartfelt about the ups and downs of marriage, about being naive and utterly clueless when you exchange vows about anything that life is going to throw at you. Although I was sincere in expressing a certain respect and reverence for the unknown of it all, still, I remember clearly at that time having this feeling that we had somehow arrived. That we had been tested as much as a couple could be tested, and we had faced it all down and come out of it as strong and sure as any couple could be. There was a certain, vague arrogance . . . like a vaccine, all the troubled waters we had bested had somehow made us immune to further strife.
And I look back a year now, and realize how naive I still was. Because the truth is, none of us ever gets to say that we’ve arrived. None of us ever knows what life is going to dish out next, and whether that helping of adversity might knock your feet out from under you.
I’m not here to complain or wallow in all the sadness and unfairness. Life is good, and rich, it truly, truly is. But it’s been a tough year. And with each passing year, I learn a little more about myself, about my husband, about marriage, about life. Happily Ever After is not a destination, or even a goal that is achievable. It’s a journey, a constant work in progress.
Michael gave me a card on our tenth wedding anniversary yesterday in which he wrote a beautiful, long poem. These words will dwell in my heart:
I think love may be like a well,
But it is not just for wishing upon,
Or to dip from;
It needs replenishing constantly,
And much tending to by its owners
In order for the well to run deep,
And remain deep.
I made an executive decision last night that, sick or not sick, I was going to see Michael in the hospital this morning. It’s been awful to stay away, and going did me a world of good (and hopefully it did him some good, too). I curled up on his bed with him for a while, we walked the halls, talked and even shared a few giggles. Ahhhh, just what the doctor ordered.
Michael is making steps towards recovery and coming home, but it’s slow going. While I was there, some of his medical trappings were removed. This is progress. I also got to see his incision, which was also the first time he’s seen it, and it’s pretty significant – quite a bit longer than I had expected. It’s all put back together by I don’t know how many sutures and eight shiny staples.