Confrontation and motivation.

I hate confrontations in an incredibly, big-time way. I’ll do almost anything to avoid them, usually to my detriment. I don’t stand up for myself: I don’t share my feelings if I’ve been hurt. I’m determined not to rock the boat.

It’s not a policy that works well. For me, at any rate. It works fine for the people I don’t challenge. And because I don’t call them to account, they never think twice about doing the same thing. Why would they? I’ve made it clear there are no real consequences for ill-treatment.

It’s because I’m afraid. I worry that standing up for myself, or disagreeing even, will lead to my rejection. I sacrifice everything to avoid being alone.

We’re social creatures: the threat of ostracism chills us to our marrow, and we do what we can to avoid it. But some of us take it too far, accept too much. We’re willing to suffer harm rather than say what we think or draw a boundary. We’re willing to bury the pain and pretend we aren’t bleeding to avoid a tense scene. We live life afraid. It gets tiring. It gets old.


I’m not going to Mexico.

I’m not going to Mexico twice.

The first trip was a destination wedding featuring a week in the sun, which I love, in Cancun, which I love, with a large group of friends, some of whom I’m very fond of indeed. [What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger, April 5, 2019, From Famine to Feast.]

I paid the deposit. I joined the Facebook group chat. I planned my first drink and song request. I looked for a new bathing suit that didn’t make me want to cry. I put a celebration sticker on the calendar on the departure date. It was only then that I realized I wouldn’t be finished with my radiation treatments before it was time to depart.

“Devastated,” sums it up. And pissed. Cancer is a downer. I vented my upset to a different group of friends who’d come by to cheer me up and in the middle of the chat we came to a decision. We’d do Mexico ourselves. We’d book for the beginning of April and have a post-cancer girls’ trip.

Thus, began the back and forth in our group chat. This trip to Mexico or that one? Dolphins or not? Are we interested in ruins? After a week or so, things quieted down but the occasional suggestion still popped up. Like the deal for a trip to Mazatlán I shared . My phone rang about an hour later. It was, let’s call her Karen. I’m sorry, she said. We were looking online, and it was a great deal. We booked it because we need a vacation.

Half of us were suddenly out of a girls’ trip.

So much for my post-radiation party.

I was beyond upset and ended the call. I was honest at least: I’m proud of that. I didn’t simply hang up: I told Karen I needed to go. I didn’t want to cry in front of someone who’d hurt me. The trip we’d set to coincide with finishing radiation, the vacation we’d planned to make up for the one cancer caused me to miss, was off because people got impatient.

I didn’t know how to process what had happened. To not even tell me. To be so unwilling to wait three weeks.

It was a bad night: I was counting on that trip. I couldn’t believe they’d taken away the one thing I looked forward to as I headed to radiation every day.

It’s been a difficult few months. My depression has been awful, I’m losing another tooth, my parents have health issues, my home life is complicated, and I have cancer. It’s low-grade cancer, but still. And now the thing I was counting on as a reward has been yanked away.

I wasn’t sure what to do with my feelings of betrayal.

What have I done to date? I stood my ground. I’m pretty proud of that.

I talked to Karen, I told her what I was feeling and why. I told her I was angry and hurt. It was terrifying. I was expecting an attack. I was expecting to be abandoned as a friend forthwith. But, I’m tired of being a doormat.

I shared my truth. She prevaricated and tried to make excuses. And then, she apologized.

The apology was nice: it’s not how I expect things to go when I stand up for myself. It was good to stare fear down and prove it wrong. Unfortunately, the apology changes nothing. My Mexico trip is cancelled once again.


I didn’t hear from my other friend, who we’ll call Susan, for at least a week. She chose not to contact me until I sent out a group text asking about some glasses I found. I got a two-line response saying “no” to the glasses and “I’m sorry” regarding Mexico.

I’ll get over the disappointment. I’ll forgive, and we’ll all move on in some fashion. But the friendships have been altered, my sense of trust damaged, at least temporarily.


I realized some things following this depressing debacle.

First, it’s good to check in with a neutral party in cases of extreme emotion. Another point is view can be helpful. I’d started to wonder if I was overreacting? If maybe it was my fault in some way? If maybe I shouldn’t be upset because they hadn’t intended harm?

Was I allowed to think their behaviour selfish?

The people I checked in with backed me up. Karen and Susan’s actions sucked. They cancelled the “post-cancer-treatment girls’ trip” and made alternative plans without even talking to me. At no point did they let me know what they’d done. Their protestations after-the-fact, that they meant no harm, that we could do another trip later, felt hollow.

Having your feelings validated is a good thing. It helped me hold my space when Karen called back to talk. It allowed me to express myself more clearly. It made me strong enough to say, “You know what? I’m angry and sad and hurt, and you can’t fix that. I’m allowed to feel these things, and I will feel them until I don’t. It doesn’t mean we aren’t friends. It means that I feel bad, and you’ll have to wait until I feel better.”

Challenge people who hurt you. Speak your truth. You’re allowed to feel what you feel. You’re allowed to talk about it.

I also realized this:

You can’t make external things your reason for living. I put too much weight on the trip, a thing “out there.” “Out there” is beyond your control, and things happen. Any number of things could have prevented me from going. [i] The promise of something good in the future can’t be the thing that’s holding your life together. That’s not being in control of your life. You have to live in the now.

Fate doesn’t much care what you have planned or how much you want it, anyhow.


[i] As it turns out, COVID19 happened. At least I wasn’t stuck with a two-week quarantine.

By Em

I like writing. Words help me unpack my thoughts so that things start to make sense. Once I have both myself and the universe figured out, I plan to take up macrame. "Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing, and learn as you go." E. L. Doctorow

20 comments

  1. Intense experiences! It is hard to stay up for yourself. What helped me is the thought that no one is going to be with me forever other than myself (body, mind, soul). That is a fact. So, I better take better care of myself before other people. This is not selfish as long as you don’t take care of yourself at the expense of others.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. You know, your friends gave you an excellent lesson albeit, unintentionally. It’s much better to have the loving support, the thoughtfulness from your friends, but sometimes the lesson specifically deprives you of it. You see, their behavior reflected some aspect of your own. It’s like the dance of life in which every single thing that happens really only drives you/us to greater self awareness and enlightenment. Your friends unintentional hurting of your feelings or causing you disappointment shows you exactly where and what is next on your soul’s list for your growth. If you see your life and others engaged in our soul’s dance, the material world is just the stage, our bodies the props, our emotions the joyful experience fruit of feelings to our soul. What goes on in our lives is our soul at play. Knowing this, you can direct it, it being your inner emotional life. It’s all love, but so much better when you find the right love, the kind that sets you free not from that love, but from that which has limited you in the first place. It’s the love gives you wings and makes you fly.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. That was beautifully expressed, on point, and insightful. Someone told me once that the qualities in others that bother us the most are reflections of things we don’t like about ourselves. I found that to be true. We find truth in the challenges.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You know, your friends gave you an excellent lesson albeit, unintentionally. It’s much better to have the loving support, the thoughtfulness from your friends, but sometimes the lesson specifically deprives you of it. You see, their behavior reflected some aspect of your own. It’s like the dance of life in which every single thing that happens really only drives you/us to greater self awareness and enlightenment. Your friends unintentional hurting of your feelings or causing you disappointment shows you exactly where and what is next on your soul’s list for your growth. If you see your life and others engaged in our soul’s dance, the material world is just the stage, our bodies the props, our emotions the joyful experience fruit of feelings to our soul. What goes on in our lives is our soul at play. Knowing this, you can direct it, it being your inner emotional life. It’s all love, but so much better when you find the right love, the kind that sets you free not from that love, but from that which has limited you in the first place. The love that gives you wings and makes or let’s you fly.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I don’t know if it’s my upbringing or my level of maturity, but I have struggled with understanding my peers for years. When I was in primary school and people would be flaky, I thought they were just kids. Then, in high school, I just thought they were silly teenagers. In college, they were just living it up before the real world. As an adult, I am disillusioned. People will never grow out of doing stupid things. You had every right to be upset and Karen and Susan. I would be, too. A shrug emoji??? No words for that.

    For some reason or other nothing works for me. If I get confrontational, I am not given an inch because I am confrontational. When I am nice and polite, I don’t get an inch, either. What gives?

    As far as your radiation is concerned – can’t you schedule a break in your treatment?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I relate to the disconnect with peers utterly. I sometimes feel like an alien, sent to observe and interact but unable to fully understand. Thanks for reaffirming my feelings though. I’d already started to drift to “well, maybe I’m overreacting and I should probably just be quiet and be grateful they’re my friends.”

      I recognize that double standard too. Can’t stand up for yourself and can’t get what you need by not. It is a conundrum.

      The doctor doesn’t want to break up the treatment. On the upside, everyone in the cancer clinic is super nice. They are the nicest medical professionals I’ve ever encountered.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m glad to hear that. It takes special kinds of people to work there. I always marveled at the staff that worked at the clinic where my mom was being treated. That definitely made a HUGE difference for her. She would also make the best of friends with other patients. To me, that was going a bit too far. But I guess if you have a lot of waiting time and things in common…

        Liked by 2 people

        1. It’s tricky. I want to be the upbeat and cheerful presence reaching out to all in the waiting room. But that would involve eye contact and talking to people which are two things I don’t always enjoy. Still, I chatted with a lovely 82 year old women who impressed me with her grace. So that’s something. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Such a well expressed post filled with real emotions and feeling. Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts Em. You’re doing well to cope with the many challenges you face and standing tall. Keep it going and you will get to enjoy ticking off some of those travel plans etc.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Em Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.