18 April 2008

Former Friend.

As I was rushing around Monday, trying to get on the road to Houston, I heard a voice mail message being left by a former friend. She called to tell me that she'd run across my blog when she was checking around the Web to see if I was dead or alive. The "dead or alive" part creeped out Superhighway. I thought it was a valid question, the answer to which is, mostly not. Former Friend wanted me to know that I'm not quite so anonymous as I'd like to be.

"The people you're writing about can find you," she said.

I broke my therapist's no-contact rule and returned the call. I simply needed to find out what she meant. I didn't engage in any conversation, though I felt a little impolite. After I hung up, I called back to thank Friend and apologize for my abruptness.

Former Friend and I knew each other from high school. We met when we were both 17. We were friends, off and on, until about ten years ago. By that time, it had become very clear to me that we simply weren't going to be able to remain friends. I can't do friendship the way she needs and she can't do it the way I need.

She had raised her voice to me. Three times. I warned her twice that I will not tolerate being yelled at by anyone. Not by anyone. Not my husband. Not my employer. Not my family. I grew up in a violent and abusive family. I won't have it in my adult life. The third time was the last time. I can't have that kind of friendship.

Remember me? I'm the "pathologically independent" one. Former Friend wanted a lot more contact than I could tolerate. Not long before she told me not to call her and then hung up on me, Friend intimated that she was tired of putting up with my "limitations" (not having any herself, of course). I didn't see much reason why she should have to tolerate them. I could take her inventory here, but why would I? We're different, that's all.

At the end, I had been really ill for a couple of years from a stress-related disease so intense that it was all I could do to get through work every day. I was having some major repair work done to my house and I was in charge of the whole ordeal. My father was slipping into ever-deepening psychosis and I was his mainstay, no matter how many times I tried to establish limits. I was in the middle of coordinating a huge annual company event and...oops...I missed her birthday. I didn't even notice that I'd missed her birthday for several days. Oops. Now, if you miss my birthday, I'm fine. I might actually be better if you miss it. We're different that way.

I called to apologize and she was furious. When she hung up on me, I was furious, too. Oddly enough, the next day I was fine. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I talked to my therapist about it, about my "limitations," about what a bad friend I'd been, about what I should do next. Therapist proposed the no-contact rule. Her take on why we should just stop trying is not the same as mine.

I'm certainly not the perfect friend by a long shot. I can go long periods of time without talking to friends and yet still feel connected. I'm a little distant. I have very definite boundaries and, when they're breached, I become even more distant. I'm not inclined to argue or engage in veiled hostility. I like to step back and think about things before I talk with people about disagreements. I could be wrong, you know, and I like to examine both sides. Everyone, without exception, finds this difficult to understand. I'm only a great friend if you can tolerate a certain level of benign indifference. I'm fine by myself. I'm very, very independent.

Former Friend has reached out several times, but there doesn't really seem to be much point in responding. We will only end up right back where we are now. I can't do it and neither can she. We're just too different.

It's too bad, really. Former Friend is bright and we shared a skewed sense of humor, a source of great pleasure and connection for me. I have lots of lovely memories of times we spent together and the early years of our relationship are especially dear to me. That was a long time ago, though. On some level, we do not understand each other. On some level, we understand each other too well.

17 April 2008

The Telephone's Ringing

I already had plans for today's post, but the plan has been thwarted. I'm answering phones for several hours today because

Crazy Employee is out for the third day. One of her children had strep recently and Crazy neglected to make her take all of her antibiotics. It's back now and Crazy has it, too.

Our intelligent and beautiful receptionist is taking a day off. (She really is beautiful and intelligent.)

The Information Superhighway is having her hair done. It's going to take a while. The Superhighway deserves a break and I'm happy to help her.

Mr. Moneybags' daughter is out today. She's doing an internship for her degree in Social Work, so she's here intermittently.

The men whose masculinity won't get in the way of answering the phone are out, too.
That leaves the phone to me. I hope to get around to the former, B.C. (before cancer) friend tomorrow.

16 April 2008

More Steroids

Dr. Kronowitz agreed that I've healed enough to move on to the next step, the tattoo. We discussed the upcoming (final, I hope) surgery to remove a lot of necrotic tissue caused by the high radiation doses I received. He may also try to cut away some of the chelation at the donor site so that maybe I'll have less ongoing pain. We had originally discussed doing it in July, but now Dr. K. thinks his schedule may be too busy.

I guess that could be a good thing. I would have more time to continue to recover physically and psychologically. I'm less concerned about my physical condition than my mental strength to endure more pain. It's far easier to rehab physically than to rebuild psychological reserves. At least with physical strength and flexibility, there are identifiable milestones and definitive means towards reaching them. Though I may be in a lot of pain from tearing internal scar tissue while I do my exercises, I know the pain will end shortly after I stop working out. After surgery, there is no predictable end in sight. Pain will end when it feels like it.

Brenda is supposed to call me soon to set up the appointment for my tattoo and I suppose we'll discuss a surgery date then, too.

We rounded up the visit with some more steroid injections in the scars running across my tummy and my "umbo" (his PA's word for my navel). Jennifer also did some injections in my sides above my hip bones. I didn't realize we were going to be doing that until Dr. Kronowitz told Jennifer to get the supplies. It's probably good that it was a surprise. At least I didn't have a couple of weeks of anticipating the excruciating pain.

I'm back at work today, feeling mostly brain dead. One of my colleagues in Virginia called to ask about a legal issue and I could barely summon an intelligible response. I must look pretty beaten up, too, because everyone is giving hugs today.

There's some strictly lay-out work that I plan to do today so my diminished intellectual ability won't be a problem. Maybe tomorrow I'll be more capable of working and writing. I had a phone call from an old friend as I was scurrying around, trying to leave town on Monday. I'll try to get around to that tomorrow.

14 April 2008

Dr. K.

No wolf today. I wanted to let you know I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. Thursday I had a dental appointment and Friday I had yet another team building event.

Today, I'm going to Houston for a meet-up with the fabulous Dr. Kronowitz. He's going to take a look at his handiwork and determine whether I've healed enough to proceed with the tattoo. I'll be back tomorrow evening.