Avoidance is my best defense

Tomorrow I have my 3-month checkup at the Cancer Centre.  Except for a telephone call or two, April was a doctor-free month.  If I weren’t taking all my medications and feeling so tired, I could have almost forgotten I had leukemia. I certainly didn’t spend much time thinking about it.

With quarterly appointments now, I can just get on with life, at least as much as I’m able. I can forget cancer and divert my energy to doing what I enjoy with people I like.  I even pulled off a surprise birthday brunch for J., which was a huge success by my standards.  (Huge success = J. was shocked when her friends arrived bearing a breakfast feast, all prepped and stored at the neighbour’s house.)

Enough fun already; tomorrow I have to confront my reality. I have to hang out with the Cancer Club in the morning, find out how the hematologist thinks I’m doing, and hopefully earn another 3 months’ reprieve.

I wish I could tell you I haven’t been thinking much about this appointment but I’d be lying. I know the appointment has been on my mind increasingly as the date approached. But I kept up the nonchalance through yesterday, when I got noticeably quiet and distracted. Of course I knew why: it’s that familiar will-she-tell-me-something-I-don’t-want-to-hear anxiety. Yes, my avoidance failed me.

Looking back on it, I think I’ve been in distraction mode for a few weeks now. When I’m not dealing with a tough issue, I keep busy. I can’t say I’ve been doing anything especially meaningful or productive, just walking the dog more, cooking and baking more–the freezer is full, the neighbours are sated–finding more errands to run, and generally not sitting down. Once I run out of things to distract me, I’m wiped, and I’ve never slept better. J.’s right in saying that I need to slow down, but I probably won’t be able to until month end. (Oh, yeah, some other medical stuff before May is out.) At least I’m getting something done in the meantime.

I see how avoidant I can be and wonder how I could be a psychologist. Psychotherapy is about sitting down and dealing with the stuff we’re avoiding for one full hour at a time. Tackle those issues, head on, no escape. Of course, we can avoid stuff in therapy, but count on our therapists to call us on it. So come see me, and I’ll give you heck for not confronting Your Issues, and once you leave I’ll spend the rest of the day not dealing with My Issues.

We all need breaks from the upsetting stuff, I guess, and we could feel overwhelmed if we tried to deal with everything head on all the time. The judicious use of avoidance helps us all cope. We’ll talk about the perils of denial some other time. For now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a new recipe I need to try out RIGHT NOW.

dog with head buried deep in sand

What? Me, worry?

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