I have a confession…
It is something that keeps me awake at night.
It is something that allows me to stare endlessly for hours at a time.
It is something that holds me back when I know I have so much potential to move beyond.
It is something that sends my mind in to darker places of murky negativity.
It makes me grumpy, when I don’t want to be. When I work so hard not to be!
It stops me from living in the now, from fully experiencing the true act of presence.
It is a denial, we say we don’t do it but we do. I DO. I hate that I do…
It’s nothing sinister or shocking and doesn’t require parental advisory permission… it is honest and true and it makes me angry with myself.
I am not alone. We are ALL not alone.
SO HERE IT IS…
I have become a victim of comparisons.
Don’t worry I wasn’t heading to a Naked land of censorship so you can all breathe a sigh of relief folks, parents included.
Comparisons make me angry. You probably ask why, well I expect you to ask why so that you will read on and understand where I am coming from. They make me angry because the very word is negative. Comparison, I believe, means that you are looking for a negative or you are looking for that ‘thing’ that makes YOU feel better about yourself, about how well you did… or didn’t do, and comparisons can make you feel worse about yourself. We all have similarities, but there is something we strive to achieve that sets us apart? Right…? Or am I wrong?
We have grown up our whole lives with the heavy burden of comparisons. If you have a sibling then you will know what I mean; it is the comparisons that set you apart and then it’s the strides you take to make yourself different. No one wants to be a clone after all. School then sets the scene for how ‘comparison-driven’ you become, it sets the scene for ambition and growth – all wonderful things that determine who we are as people and the paths we hope to travel on as we take the steps in to adulthood. Then on the other hand school also sets the scene for the personality you will grow in to; the extrovert, the introvert, the straight A kid, the trouble-maker, the attention-seeker, the most popular kid and the least popular, the joker, the bully and the bullied. From childhood we learn the traits of comparison and from here we learn what we like and what we don’t like. The process of growing up sets the foundations to the life lessons we allow into our worlds.
To say that we aren’t partial to the odd ‘comparison-brooding’ would be a lie on all our parts, because it is a daily act in whatever capacity we choose to allow it; whether it be in reading reviews, listening to news, looking at social media, walking down the street, in class, riding the bus, sitting in waiting rooms or even as we stare at the reflection in the mirror.
Comparisons don’t usually get me too angry, because I don’t really allow myself much time to think about the fact until… like now… POW… it smacks me good and hard! Comparison is the reason why I haven’t been as active in the online world of late, it’s the reason why I choose not to spend hours trolling through Facebook as much as I love this social media platform; and sometimes I have to admit comparison (and fatigue) is the very reason why I refrain from some social outings (don’t worry, even with a terminal diagnosis I am still very much a social butterfly but these days I am more selective).
Lately, well the last month more likely, I have become a very real victim to comparison, and melanoma comparisons more specifically. One thing that I pat myself on the back for is that I am pretty quick in identifying when something is up with ME and that I go into a little recon-mission to ensure that my precious state of mind is well and truly nurtured with the things that hold it together mentally. When you are diagnosed with any illness, had a tragedy in your life or on the positive side have a real passion you tend to follow all the stories that align with the current topic that is at the forefront of your mind. You immerse. You educate yourself. You follow others in similar situations. You read, you like., you share. For me lately, Facebook and some of the pages I follow relating to my diagnosis allow that little creep COMPARISON to enter my stronghold. The little sneak I tell you likes to come and bite me when I am most vulnerable, and then he (I’ll call him ‘he’ because all little buggers are usually male aren’t they, hahahaha sorry fellas!) likes to camp-out until I can find him and give him the good-old Gardiner boot!
The beast of comparison likes to find stories of others who have passed from Melanoma, he then allows me to read and then become emotionally connected with their stories, and then worst of all, he allows me to sit there and brood over each one. Analysing the differences, comparing the similarities, realizing that they too were young, full of hope, wanting to help and more than anything wanting to live. This has been me for the last couple of months, until I had a break down on the weekend.
Unfortunately what I have come to learn about myself over the years is that I am one of those ‘sensitive souls’, and with all sensitive souls we have a tendency to take on more than we physically can. We get emotionally involved! We are the listeners, the decision-makers and a lot of the time the true leaders in this world because of our extra sensitive mechanisms towards compassion. But we also tend to put others before ourselves. The good thing in all the self-work that I have been doing is that I am aware of this and this is where I make a pact with myself to take time out from Melanoma.
Melanoma is something that I have; it is not who I am and what I want in my life. Melanoma doesn’t define me as a person. Melanoma may have molded who I am in my 9-year battle with it but it doesn’t mean that I have to allow myself to become a victim of its mental stranglehold. Melanoma is not isolated and for that fact I realize that my melanoma is DIFFERENT. Just as everyone else affected with some form of cancer is DIFFERENT. That is why awareness is sooooo important!
At the end of the day we are all different. We are all unique! We may all be battling our own demons, but our journeys may take other roads. For this reason, I put myself first and I may take some time out on occasion from melanoma when I need to, because the harsh reality is I LIVE IT EVERY DAY, back and forth to hospital and appointments, but I can choose what I see and what I read and I can choose not to see or not to read certain things and when. And most importantly I can be the Manager of Comparisons in my life. Nifty title hey! Hehe! Just as you can in your own lives.
As I prepare myself for another CT scan this week and the all-encompassing anxiety that holds its hand, I know that I have the power in myself to diffuse the power of comparison and rather share with you my Naked family the loves and the passions that keep me… ME.
With love, light and time for yourself xx
Photo by the ever talented RYAN MCGUIRE