I was writing to my sponsor last night, and mentioned that I can still be powered by those two engines of insanity - control and perfectionism.
I can detach enough from myself and my emotions at this stage, to be able to watch the way having cancer, and being pulled into the whirlpool of treatment, affects my desire to control, and awakens the old demon of perfectionism.
For now, much of my time is not my own, through hours spent getting chemotherapy infusions, going for blood tests, appointments with doctors, nurses, dressing changes for the PICC line - the list seems endless, but then when I have a couple of days with no appointments, I feel a gleeful freedom.
After so many years in Al-Anon, I've become rather skilled at letting go - this has been of huge importance to me since the diagnosis. I've learned to live in the moment, and to take pleasure from these moments as they happen, not allowing the spectre of what may lie ahead to poison my joy in today.
A friend is coming to take me for lunch today; we haven't seen each other since before I was diagnosed, so she may be expecting me to look ill. I have had to laugh at how many of my friends who haven't seen me for a while exclaim in surprise "You look so good!" Cancer is a loaded word, and with it come many assumptions.
My sponsor and I are going wig-shopping tomorrow - I'm really looking forward to this, she has a wicked sense of humour, and her many years in Al-Anon allow her to see the silliness that surrounds us in daily life. I know that I can be truly myself with her, whether that be me on a day when I'm working my program and managing to balance quite nicely, or on my not-so-program days. Tears or laughter, she accepts them all, and that is a great gift.
I'm grateful for this wonderful program, for allowing me to be having a conversation with Robert, and know to stop and laughingly "out" myself as a control freak, telling him to do whatever he's doing however he pleases, and I will be quiet now. When I'm in HALT, (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) my desire to control can begin to overcome me. I can focus on it, or let it go - my life works well, or I stumble, depending upon which I choose.
Perfectionism is another character defect I have had in abundance. I see that it was inculcated in childhood, when a higher mark was always better, and nothing was ever enough. I was never enough.
That feeling stuck with me through most of my early years in Al-Anon. Anxiety can cause it to start up in my head again, that feeling of having to do everything and anything perfectly, so that no possible criticism can be levelled against me. Fortunately, again, I've had sufficient experience in Al-Anon that I know not to allow that feeling to override my common sense. I can feel it, validate it, then set it aside, and do what I need to do to look after myself.
Twice since my diagnosis, I have asked to see another doctor, first the surgeon, and then the medical oncologist. I didn't feel comfortable or confident with the first doctors I saw, so got up my nerve to ask for a second opinion. I'm learning that I need to be willing to advocate for myself. Cancer Care here has a wealth of information and help available, but in order to access it, I have to admit that I need some extra assistance, that I'm not perfect, and I can't manage all on my own. What a relief that is.