I wish I was more outgoing.
Somehow all of the social genes from our mother went to my big brother, and I got the introverted and quiet genes from our dad. Most of the time I don't mind. I'm shy. I prefer to watch rather than be watched. I'm a wallflower and hate to be the center of attention. In my quiet little life, all of that works quite nicely.
Most of the time.
Being a cancer patient presents a conundrum... you get so sick of being focused on cancer, and having people focused on helping you because of cancer, that it seems like you're never alone. Between all of the poking and prodding involved with exams, surgeries and treatment and the well-meaning (and much appreciated, believe me) people showering you with love, prayers and assistance, you are constantly surrounded and can sometimes feel on display. Your cancer becomes everyone's business. On the other hand, while it's not private, cancer is a very lonely disease. Even though cancer is everywhere, unless someone has walked in these shoes, they can't possibly understand what you're going through or how you're feeling. That alone separates you from the pack.
My BFF has walked in my exact shoes (well, actually, she went first, so I'm walking in her shoes), so she more than anyone knows how I'm feeling on any given day. She's known me for almost three decades and has seen me through many of life's ups and downs. Unfortunately she lives thousands of miles away. I've recently met two women from a Facebook group (my Bellas) who have been there, done that and have the scars to prove it. They are kick-ass women with hearts of gold. They are also my social opposites. If we hadn't met and formed a friendship online through our kindred breast cancer spirits, I doubt we'd have anything in common. I was fortunate to meet another of my online friends who seems to share a lot of my personality traits, or at least those regarding the way I feel and how I react to this whole stupid breast cancer thing. We were able to talk fears, insecurities, vulnerabilities, etc. While any of these women are just a click or phone call away, they are not here to share in my every day life.
Two of my good friends recently moved (thank you, U.S. military), taking away not only two of my kids' best friends, but also ladies that I really counted on. They each offered support in their own way, but the theme of our friendships was decidedly not cancer. They were women I could count on for a meal and a laugh, or a ride from school for my child, or just someone to hang out with. They walked all night with me at Relay for Life because my friendship means something to them. I'm still trying to come to terms with the loss of my friend Allyson. While geography kept us from sharing everyday life, I always knew she was there...for twelve years she was there for me...to call for advice, to pop in for a visit, to look to for guidance on this rocky road of living with cancer. It's going to be a long time before I travel to see one of my doctors in Dallas and I don't automatically think, "Maybe I can see Allyson this visit".
Why the meloncholy today, you ask? It's hard to make friends. It's even harder when you're not a social butterfly and feel awkward making conversation with new people. When I picked J and his friend up from football camp today, my sense of "alone-ness" really hit me hard. I got there early so I sat in my car to wait, and I observed all of these people sitting together, chatting, etc. These are parents of J's classmates, people I've been acquainted with for years, and I can't help but wonder why I don't fit in. I know most of them, and I'm friendly with a lot of them. But not one of them is someone who would call me up to say "Hey, do you want to have lunch?" Maybe it's because I don't put myself out there. Maybe my shyness comes across as standoffish. Maybe I'm not as nice and fun and interesting as I think I am.
It's more likely to be something as simple as the fact that everyone else has a busy life, too. It's just sucky, and lonely, that my life is busy because of cancer.
I have many good, good people in my life - you know who you are, and thank you. I've always been of the mindset "quality, not quantity". I am perfectly happy with my little circle of friends who have my back and who I trust to give me true friendship in return. I've never been one to like being part of a big group, but it saddens me that my little group just keeps getting smaller and smaller. If you're in my posse, get ready for me to tighten the reins, because I am not losing another friend (and yes, I'm shaking my fist and stomping my foot)!