Thursday, February 25, 2010

eating right won't save your life and other sad truths



Biopsy season is nearly upon us once more.  We don't mean to be, but we are shorter-tempered, stupidly forgetful, irritable, suddenly and increasingly disorganized.  I think I'm handling the details just fine.  Then realize I've forgotten a friend's birthday cake event.  Completely.  Even despite choosing a gift earlier in the day.  Am I going crazy?  I mean, getting there faster than usual?

I am, aren't I? 

I'm afraid to call my mother-the-therapist because this time she may not just laugh with me.  Maybe this time she'll say, "Hmm."  And then ask me unusual questions about what I think I may be feeling.  And what I think I may be needing.  And how I think I might best go about giving myself the things I need.  She rarely prescribes as a counselor.  Psychology as practiced in my mom's discipline* is very Socratic - everyone contains within them the truth and the true therapy arises naturally.  Her questions are meant to help the counselee peel away the obscuring distractions of panicked/despairing false patterns of non-thought.  I think.  Anyway, I am afraid of that "Hmm."

Fritz and I, trying to schedule a biking weekend away,  keep coming up against the medical schedule. 

"But after that we're free and clear for any weekend, yeah?" I am flipping pages of the calendar, hoping we can luck out with a rain-free three days.

"Well, unless it's -- if there has to be a surgery."

"Which there won't be."

Fritz doesn't answer.

"There won't be."

He lifts eyebrows.

"Please just say there won't be."

"I can't say that.  I don't know."

It is not too strong to say I hate that exasperating exactitude about him.  Of course you can say things you don't know.  There's a power in saying to make things so.  Isn't there?

Isn't there?

Did I love him the first time I said I did?  Or was I just answering?  How did I even know what that love you would mean? 

Should I have said, "Well I don't know if I actually love you.  For example, would I stick with you if you woke up tomorrow brain-dead?  would I give you a liver to save your life?  And would it be because I truly loved you or just for general humanitarian purposes?  Do I even know you well enough to love you?  But I think I am willing to begin the process, okay?  If everything continues as it has . . . so far . . . "

Couldn't he have just said:  "Hope so anyway."
  

Eldest invited a friend over yesterday. To cook carrot soup. Her friend had had some private sorrows that needed assuaging. To Eldest, cooking is the answer. Not baking, but soup making. Which delights me almost as much as it confuses me. I don't actually hate cooking (secretly I find the textures and smells and colors of fresh food exquisite and ravishing and the small routines of chopping and stirring mind-cleansing) but I grew up into a young adult who believed I hated to cook, was a bad cook, a bad seamstress, that I hated keeping house. Cooking, sewing, shorthand -- bah! Women's work! Become a nurse? a 3rd grade teacher? a nutritionist? These were not career paths open to someone with my test scores.

Or maybe I was crazy then and am just now getting saner. If so, it is an unsettling process. And painful.
I was telling Eldest, after she'd laid out her evening of comfort-soup-making plans to me, how I'd realized that one of the reasons I'd found it so hard to cook lately -- really cooking, as in planning out weekly menus, ensuring the plentitude of leafy greens, soaking beans, kneading bread, that kind of cooking -- is that all my years of learning how to cook the Healthy Way! have let me down.

I have been betrayed by broccoli's false promises.

Fritz was never going to have the health problems of his parents because he was not going to eat out of boxes.  And organic eggs!  Yes, and organic kale as well!  With his active biking and all the beans he'd eat  -- cancer, heart disease, pills and doctors would just be syllables in other people's sad stories.

What's the point peeling broccoli stalks and stir frying bok choy if he's going to go and get himself tangled up in biopsies every eight months or so? 

I ask you.














*As well as crazy, I am also inaccurate.  My mom (who called just to say, "HMM!") does not actually practice "Rogerian" psychology with her actual clients, she says.  But with her children, she figures we are not so interested in therapy as in being heard, and not interested in getting advice but in figuring it out for ourselves.  Regardless, I always do feel fully therapized after pouring out my woes and perplexities before her -- even when she hmms.

3 comments:

suzanne said...

This is beautiful. And razor edged.

Lisa B. said...

You're exactly right about everything here. The power of saying to make things so--and the reverse, the things we must not say lest they become more likely. (I use this principle in basketball all the time. Also in politics.)

And oh, the faith we put in our own actions--the bargains we make: if only we eat this and exercise that, etc. etc. etc., then we won't have this. My husband had bladder cancer more than 10 years ago. The single strongest indicator of bladder cancer? Smoking. Is my husband a smoker? He is not. What the hell.

I'll be thinking good thoughts for you all. I think you should go ahead and plan that trip.

Mrs. Organic said...

Maybe planning the trip will make things so. I dislike these types of anniversaries, I really do. I hope the test comes and goes and leaves you with nothing but a wonderful trip to go on.

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