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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On bravery and fear

Tomorrow is my chemo and today is my last blood test, at least for a while I hope, and I'm shit scared.

I work all morning on various projects I have on the go.

Yesterday I received some hopeful news from one of Australia's two largest independent publishers. I recently sent a rather half thought-through email to them thinking: "Oh well, they'll either like it or they won't. It is what it is."

And apparently, they like the first blog and want me to send the rest!

This news has boosted my self confidence a little because, as most writers will tell you, the path to glory is a thorny one, full of pot holes, cul de sacs, and muggings in the dead of night.

In fact, I've developed a fairly thick skin over the years and, once the manuscript is considered, if it's rejected then, you know what? It certainly won't be the first time!

Rejection, humiliation, some condescension, and eating humble pie are part and parcel of being a writer. Or kidding yourself that you are one, I can reliably report.

So this morning, enthused and reinvigorated, I get into my latest fiction writing project. In fact, I've added 6,000 words since yesterday. It just goes to show what a boost to one's self esteem can do for output.

(I must try this with my youngest, Ben. It would be a novel approach, so to speak, as I do seem to be overly critical of him. Why oh why oh why is this child not perfect like me?)

The morning passes in a flurry of political back-biting (the part I hate), a quick trip to the chiropractor (a lopsided chest is bad for the spine), and more writing.

Through the morning I drink lots of water which is a must do for those being constantly pierced by needles. This plumps up your veins - or at least, in the best case scenario, it should so any vampires out there, take note: make sure your victims are well hydrated if you want a good meal.

And so it's time.

The thing is this. As I wheel my car out of the driveway for the second time today, I am overwhelmed by a strange feeling. I'm anticipating, story telling, hyperventilating!

I can feel my breath shortening and my heart pumping.

I realise that this is what fear is.

I know I've told you before, of some of the hair raising adventures I've had in my day. Really, I'm not the kind of girl who screams on a roller coaster.

I find the Giant Drop in Dreamworld really rather boring and never really know what the fuss is about.

The first time I went skydiving I have to confess I actually thought: "Is this it?"

Once, I was followed home in the dead of night by a potential rapist (it was 11 pm and I was walking home from my school after a school formal, ball gown and all) and even then, I kept calmly walking home. I just wasn't afraid.

Sure, as a mum, we all experience the usual anxiety when our children are briefly missing in a shopping centre or a crowded street. But is that fear? That's concern for someone else's welfare I think. It's different. It's unselfish.

Throughout my battle so far, my friends near and far have lauded me for my apparent bravery, but how can you be brave if you don't have fear?

But today, perhaps for the first time, I acknowledge that I have been scared, perhaps even a little terrified.

Not of death or dying.

Not even of the aftermath of my death or dying. (My children will be fine in that event and I will certainly not go to my maker wishing I had done anything differently. I've lived a full and rich life, oozing with fun and passion. Suck on that Grim Reaper!).

What I HAVE been scared of are those things that go into the process to keep me from that final destination.

It's the needles and cannulas and drugs vented into my system that have had me, by George I do believe, scared!

Tomorrow is my very last chemo treatment (if I have to have any more, I won't do it, I just won't).

It's taken me 18 weeks to finally know what it is to be scared, and it happened today.

If only they had a way of doing these things without touching my veins, I would have been fine.

As it is, the lady at Cleveland has one attempt and fails and is so nervous about my tiny veins, she sends me to Capalaba.

There, a very professional, calm and kind lady does things perfectly and only one more attempt is needed. Success!

By now, my fear has receded but at least I can recognise the symptoms of it.

And, I'm afraid to say I'm going to add it to the arsenal of useless emotions because what does it achieve?

Being afraid is the last reason anyone should be stopped from doing anything (unless of course it involves placing your tongue on an electrified train line: that really did happen to some eejit once).

Healthy fear is what stops us from doing stupid things. But this? This fear that wants me to turn the car around, to reject the last blood test, to avoid the last chemo. It's stupid.

In for a penny, in for a pound, Al always says. I guess once the die is cast, what is there to do but go all the way?

So tomorrow, while I'm being pierced and poisoned, at long last, I'll understand what it is when my friends tell me I'm brave.

Perhaps I am!

Who knew?

1 comment:

  1. I think we all knew that this little 'nasty' picked the wrong person to tangle with - and you're proving it more and more every day my little nugget!
    C xoxox