I become very uncomfortable when someone tells me I am an inspiration to them or that what I’m doing or have done or plan on doing or have alleged to do is inspiring to them. Very uncomfortable. I am not an inspirational person. I am an ordinary person who happens to have had some out of the ordinary things happen to her. I’ve done what I think any ordinary person would do when faced with these out of the ordinary circumstances. I got through them. I didn’t see another choice. What were my other options? Fall completely to pieces? Lay down here in this hole and never come out? Not survive? None of those other options were very appealing. Nothing to see, move along, everything is fine, just fine. I’m fine, this will all be gotten through soon enough and then we can all go back to pretending like this never happened.
Yes, I have cancer, a wonky heart, bad knees, and a propensity towards depression. Yes, it sucks. Yes, cancer treatment has been a complete and utter terror. If there has been a complication to be had, an indignity be visited, large or small, I have had it. I tried to deal with it all with as much good humor and equanimity as possible, not because I am a saint but because dropping one’s basket when yet another person in a white lab coat tells me I am about to experience mild discomfort does no one any good. It doesn’t make The LabCoat’s job easier. It isn’t going to make the pain less painful or the procedure less procedural. It isn’t going to make it any easier for the people I love to deal with my disease. Instead, I make a joke about once again being asked to undress without anyone even so much as offering me a drink or exchanging phone numbers.
Further, being inspirational implies a certain responsibility toward the inspire-ee. I have to continue being inspirational or I will let them down. I spent most of my life in fear of letting people down, actually not in fear as much as in the firm knowledge I was a failure and a let down. Now I have this reputation to hold up, the bar has been set. I can’t spend the next year on my sofa eating Cheetos, drinking bourbon and discharging a firearm into the television. I can’t release a sex tape and get my own reality television series and concomitant lucrative endorsement deals. That would not be inspiring. Well, maybe it would be but not to the right people and not in the right way.
I’m just as much a schlubby let down now as I was before I was diagnosed with cancer. I cuss too much, hold grudges, lose my patience too quickly, leave dirty dishes in my sink overnight and, on philosophical grounds, avoid housework as much as possible. I am going to disappoint you.
If you want to know how I feel about the Motivational Industrial Complex, check out www.despair.com