Reflections on my 4th blogoversary
Logging onto my WordPress dashboard this morning, I was greeted with this message:
So, it’s been four years since I started out on my blogging journey with the aim of coming to a greater understanding of the impact of a cancer diagnosis as we journey beyond the treatment phase. I started off with my own story but as I realized that my story is the story of so many of us, I wanted to share your stories too so we could lessen feelings of isolation. A diagnosis of cancer leaves a common legacy which in many ways we share, but equally our experience differs from each other in many ways too. This is why I encourage guest posts on the JBBC blog, so that we can learn from each other’s stories. I hope we learn that we are not alone and that while our experiences differ sometimes, we share a common bond of learning to live with grace and courage with the challenges of our lives.
I also came to understand the universality of the themes of grief, loss, gratitude and compassion which unites us – not just because of cancer, but because of other life challenges. In the past four years, I have gone through the loss of my much longed for babies, my beloved mother and periods of depression and despair. Together we have mourned the loss of dear friends (I am thinking particularly of Rachel as we approach the first anniversary of her death) who we miss sorely. Through it all we have found understanding and a shared feeling of support and compassion.
We have also celebrated our joys and triumphs together and one of the greatest pleasures for me has been watching how many of you have grown through your first tentative beginnings in the blogosphere to become a voice to be reckoned with!
I have quoted Sunday Times columnist Sally Brampton before, but I think it bears repeating. While she is writing about depression here, I believe the following words are very apt for our own blogging community.
The way that I deal with my depression these days is to talk about the way I truly feel, and not the way I think other people would like me to feel. I am rarely right about that anyway. And I have discovered that when I break the treaty of silence, I am amazed to find how many people will join me.
I know that some people find such notions of honesty and vulnerability impossible, if not abhorrent. Most of us have never learned the vocabulary of intimacy. We simply don’t know how to express our feelings. Perhaps some of us don’t need to but it’s more, I think, that most of us are frightened so we hide behind a carefully constructed social self. Much of that self is unhelpful; it is a brick wall behind which we find ourselves trapped, frightened of not being, as the therapeutic phrase goes, “good enough.”
Curiously, the best antidote to the not good enough culture is to say it out loud. We live in an imperfect world. We are imperfect beings. The more we share that, the better we will feel.
We get so conditioned not to show our natural frailty that we forget that vulnerability is a precious thing. It’s what makes us human. It is what heals us because it is connection and not separation that makes us whole.
Life is about connection. There is nothing else.
I truly believe that life is all about connection and compassion, and as I enter another year of writing this blog, I want to re-dedicate myself to these ideals. I do hope you will continue to journey with me on this path of connection, compassion, and healing.