My friend Brian Ledell is my favorite “Words With Friends” buddy. Some people just play the game, which is an online version of Scrabble, but he and I chat a lot, too.
Last week I made a move on the board at about 3am. “Insomnia,” I confessed on our chat. When he awoke a few hours later and made his own move, he sympathized, telling me how much he hates when that happens to him.
Because I’ve known him for so long and because of our close relationship, I decided to put myself out there and just be honest with him. The following conversation ensued:
Aimee: Confession: I’m taking something to quiet my brain at night. I’m upbeat and positive all day. Nights are tougher.
Brian: If I was going through what you’re going through I would be taking all the anti-anxiety drugs I could get the doctors to prescribe for me and would not feel the least bit bad about it. Life is stressful enough in normal times.
Aimee: And this is why I love you – permission to be imperfect. I really work on that Superwoman mask but sometimes it just won’t stay on. I’m learning that not only is it okay to BE fallible; it’s okay to let people know you’re as flawed and faulty as everyone else.
Brian: You are too kind! I agree with you, though – asking for help is not an easy thing to do. I think you’ve handled it very well. I’m proud to know you.
Aimee: I am so control freaky that I’m usually the helper, not the one asking for help. It’s a challenge, but I’m learning. I’m learning a lot of things lately!
There are several important items in the subtext of that conversation, not the least of which is that Brian is an excellent listener. For me, though, the crux of it is that I am learning. Even when I’m going through this sh***y exercise called cancer, I continue to learn about myself, the people I love, and the world around me. I’m reading a lot. I’m continuing to write. I get messages from friends that brighten every day, and when I feel well, which, luckily, is many many days, I get to see several of those wonderful friends who live nearby – and sometimes even people who make treks of many miles to see me. On most days I’m feeling quite lucky as I learn.
In order to maintain my own sanity and get through this, I have to stop trying to be perfect, express gratitude, and allow myself to ask for help when needed. Learning to do these things has not been easy and I’m still not so good at it, but I’m working hard. They’re good lessons and I just hope that some of them stick with me beyond (God willing) cancer.
Cancer: an opportunity for a growth experience. I’d rather not have the opportunity, but since I have no choice, I will take it. Thanks, Brian.