on being brave

This post was inspired by “Do It Afraid” by Jill .

My family and I went to a little party for brunch on Sunday. This would not have been a big deal except that it was going to mostly former co-workers in attendance and since the cancer returned I have been avoiding these kinds of events.

But this brunch was different. It was a surprise in honour of a friend and former co-worker who is in ongoing breast cancer treament (she is also one of the women with whom I am involved in a writing project and that I wrote about in my post entitled “the building.” There is a new building now but my friend still works for the organization). She has been treated quite shamefully by her employer (a supposed advocate for “workplace accomodation”) who has consistently refused to accomodate her need for regular time off for treatment. The case will be decided over the next two days by an arbitrator and I knew I needed to overcome my trepidations to show her my support.

And I had a great time. There were so many people there who I was happy to see (I think it is a testament to my friend C. She is a wonderful person who attracts wonderful friends, all of whom wanted a chance to show her how much we love her). The food was great. I loved being there with my boys (all three of them). I always enjoy showing them off and they made me very, very proud just by being themselves.

I am so glad I went, despite my fears. I always tell myself that I avoid these things because it will be awkward and sad. But I don’t think that I have been giving people enough credit. The truth is my tendency to experience social anxiety (which predates the cancer) has been exacerbated by spending so much time on my own (something I quite enjoy). I think I use the cancer as an excuse.

From the moment I stepped in the door, and saw all these people I genuinely like, I felt happy and excited and I know that my face and body language expressed that. It was lovely to catch up with people and easy to put them at ease. I know that going did me a world of good.

Cross-posted to Not Just About Cancer.

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3 Responses to on being brave

  1. Jill Aldrich says:

    Laurie,

    How very cool, how very honest, and how very courageous of you. This just totally reinforces my belief that we’re more powerful together. So happy you shared this!

    Hope you have a great week.

    Jill

  2. Laurie says:

    Hi Jill-
    I was just thinking of the possibilities in creating a dialogue between us on this blog. How wonderful!
    Laurie

  3. imstell says:

    Laurie,
    It does take a lot of courage to face those people from work. I had no problems facing strangers, friends and loved ones… but was a mess inside when it came to going back to work that first day after I’d been diagnosed.

    Partly it was because I have never been comfortable with sympathy (or compliments or accepting gifts but that’s another story) however, in retrospect I think there is more to it. I feel it has more to do with who I am at work and how I wish to be perceived.

    At work I am not the wife sharing decisions or a first-time mom insecure in my actions. Nor am I a fresh-faced new hire or a short-timer biding my time until retirement. I am in the prime of my career. I KNOW my stuff. I am supremely confident in my knowledge and abilities as are my customers and co-workers. Even though I do not work in Corporate America, on some level I think I was concerned about perceived weakness.

    Would I be displaced from my Lead position because I was now “undependable”? Would my judgment be questioned while I was on chemo? Would I be overlooked for promotions because of my illness? I really think this was more the source of my anxiety.

    Thankfully, I was shown nothing but support from everyone. And none of those unspoken fears were realized. Thanks for helping me to look a bit deeper into my own fearful motivations.

    Stella

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