Muzzling my inner mean girl

I know it goes without saying that this cancer journey is tough.  We’ve moved from hoping tomorrow is a normal day to hoping tomorrow is a good day.  There are highs and lows, victories and struggles.

What I find to be my ever present companion in this post-Houston reality is anger.  I know it’s one of those stages of grief.  I know it’s a very normal thing to feel.  It just isn’t normal to me.

I’ve told close friends and some family members, including Francis, that I’m worried about losing my constant wrestling match with my inner mean girl.  It makes me short with Francis and our children.  I get impatient and feel put out by dealing with what I judge to be trivial.  I become irritable by having to deal with uninformed or uncaring members of our medical team.

This experience has shown us the terrible and tragic loss of who we are as individuals and as a couple.  The cancer is slowing killing parts of us and our relationship that we already mourn.  It is also magnifying all those flaws that get to stay hidden by a life without the pressure and pain of a terminal disease.

My anger is clearly something I need to work on to be the woman, wife, and mother I hope to be.  I may do a good job of keeping it in check most of the time, but not all the time.

My failure was painfully obvious to me last week when I got an email from a gentleman named Cameron Von St. James.  He writes for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance blog.  Back when we were in Houston preparing for Francis’s surgery, he asked if I would be willing to publish a guest post from him on our blog.  I told him I would take a look, but we were in the midst of a stressful and frightening time with the big surgery approaching.

Cameron’s wife is a mesothelioma survivor.  She had a radical surgery and extensive recovery, during which Cameron was a caregiver for his wife and their infant daughter.  There are many similarities to our story.  We just had different outcomes.

When Cameron contacted me last week, he was following up on the draft blog post that I told him I would look over after we got past the surgery.  His follow up email was timely as he was asking me to consider posting during Asbestos Awareness Week.

The day his email arrived we were once again challenged by Francis’s g-tube.  That challenge would lead to an unscheduled trip to the surgeon, and ultimately the temporary removal of the g-tube.  However unexpected or stressful the events of the day were, it was no excuse for my response.

Cameron was in the wrong place at the wrong time – electronically speaking.  I used the anonymity of the Internet to give him a piece of my mind without consideration for his circumstances or his feelings.  I’ve regretted that email response every day since last Wednesday.

I never wanted to do something like this.  I don’t ever want to diminish the circumstances of others who have individual stories to tell that are just as important to them as ours are to us.  Sadly, last week my mean girl won.

I’m a work in progress.  Just like I hope tomorrow is a good day, I hope it is also a nice one where I can keep my mean girl in line.  Like everything else we’re facing, I just have to take this battle with myself a day at a time.

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12 responses

  1. Leann – Prayers are with you as you all go through this struggle together. Thanks for being so honest with the world. When you do that, you are beginning to heal and you have no idea how many people you are helping. May God continue to bless you and your family and I pray that you will feel Him right by your side.

    Judy Harkless

  2. Given that Cameron, too, has written a blog post about his anger issues pursuant to his wife’s diagnosis, I think you’re in good company.

    Sending prayers for love, peace, and strength your way tonight.

    -Megan

    Sent from my iPhone4

  3. LeAnn,
    Don’t be so hard on yourself. You are dealing with so much and are bound to lose patience at times. We continue to pray for your family’s strength as you continue down this difficult road. May you feel God’s hands holding you up.
    Brooks and Carol Simpson

  4. Mary Anne Price | Reply

    Dear LeAnne, We have never met, but I was introduced to your blog by Frances Taber, who thinks you are wonderful. I wanted to reach out to you because I have been there and know how difficult it is. In 1989, my husband George died of lung cancer less than a year after he was diagnosed–we had only been married for 6 years and he was only 45. I am telling you this because I fought the same battle with my anger and frustration during this experience. There were times when I got angry, and took it out on my dear husband, and occasionally the unfortunate acquaintance who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It seems to go with the territory when fighting a battle against such odds. I felt that I could not just let someone else take my place at his side for a while, because only I could do what needed to be done. And yet I was working mostly full time by day, and trying to help him at night. My mother flew down from Birmingham, bringing a frozen meatloaf in her carryon. She made him some of the few things he could eat–baked custard, and lots of jello. If you can walk around for a brief time outside, just to clear your head, try to do that. As hard as it is, try to get someone else to be with Francis, so you can get some time with your children, and to get some perspective. If you don’t, you may well look back on the times you snapped with anger, and not on the positive and loving moments you shared. Meanwhile, you cannot control all that anger–it is part of what is happening right now, and you cannot blame yourself–it is not an inner mean girl–it is truly pain. I promise you it is not easy, and even knowing about this did not stop me from facing similar issues during loss of my husband Geoff, who died last July following extensive illnesses and a broken hip. Love does not make you perfect, but hopefully it makes one better than one would be otherwise. My heart is with you throughout this time, and, for what it is worth, you have a lot of people who care about you, even if you do not know all of them. With love for you and your family, Mary Anne Price

  5. LeAnn- We are all always God’s works in progress. Every time I think I am “good enough”, God exposes another piece of me that I am not letting Him handle. Please know I am not saying that is what He is doing to you, but I think I might understand the feeling.

    I would like to pray that God takes care of your “inner mean girl”, okay? It’s not always to hold those feisty chicks down on our own! That I am confident in saying. I am NOT good at that on my own.

    Love from Markle – Jamie

  6. Leanne, you are my hero!!!! Your mother-in-law is my cousin, and we spend way to much time searching our ancestry. She is awesome, as are you. Hang in their “mean girl”!

  7. I am glad that you are writing about “mean girl”. I would be extremely surprised if you didn’t have anger about all of this. Keeping her caged up is dangerous, but I do understand that you want to be kind against all odds in every circumstance, its just not realistic. She wants to have her say! Let her write. Let her smash some stuff, rip up fabric or a telephone book, cut down a dead tree, beat some rugs, buy some mis-matched dishes from the Goodwill and throw them against a concrete wall (from a distance, with safety eyewear). Scream your heart out while a train is passing by to muffle it. Do something to let the anger out.

  8. Bonnie Bradley | Reply

    The feelings you are having are all a part of the process, we love you so much and just do not like the miles that seperate us. You are very special to our family, much love and many prayers come your way. Aunt Bonnie

  9. I pray for you all the time and remember…YOU ARE HUMAN!! like so many others, i appreciate the honesty and just know that anyone would understand you being upset at times for whatever reason, considering what you are dealing with. Keeping you lifted through prayer. Sean

  10. All I can say, Leanne is that you express so vividly what you and your family are going through. None of us can know how we would react to all the pressure, pain and grief you are experiencing. Please know that as we helplessly read your words, wishing we could help, knowing we can’t, hold you and yours in our thoughts and, prayers. Marie White, a longtime friend of Frances, Elizabeth and your husband.

  11. Billy Hattaway | Reply

    Dear LeAnne. We haven’t met ..unfortunately, but Francis and I worked together for a brief time at FDOT before his illness removed him from my life. I felt connected to Frances right away for some reason, which I can’t explain. I cannot imagine what you and Francis are dealing with at this time. While all of us face our own difficulties throughout our life, it seems that you have been dealt an especially difficult hand. Your honesty and transparency concerning your “inner mean girl” is amazingly refreshing and a true reflection of our humanity. All to often, we feel tempted to believe that we have to “rise above” our life challenges and yet it is not always possible. I pray that you will continue to allow yourself the freedom to “walk out” this enormous challenge with the strength and honesty that you have demonstrated thus far. It gives others who are suffering a place to rest knowing they are not alone.

  12. Hello LeAnne. You don’t know me, however, Uncle Bo was my, of cource, uncle,
    as well as your father in law. I want to say you are very brave and tough to be going
    thru this. I am so upset about Francis. I think of him every day and pray for Gods
    mirracle to save him. Please give him my very best reguards. Actually, I love him
    like a brother. Gene Taber/ Denver, Colorado

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