Thursday, 11 June 2009

Love Lunatics

The last couple of days have become a bit confused in my mind, what with the emotional distress, the comings and goings of my friends, the many phone calls and the morphine.

I tried not to be upset but I did cry a lot on Tuesday. I’ve had to deal with the difficult business of telling friends and family the news about Nick and I breaking up whenever they phoned or visited. I've kept it in perspective. Compared with the magnitude of bad news that Mr Hadjiminas could have given me, and didn’t, Nick’s pronouncement seems less like a bombshell and more like an exploding paper bag in terms of shock value.

At the same time, and this may sound odd, I didn’t fully believe Nick. Not in the sense of ‘I don’t belieeeeeve it!’ but in the sense that what he said seemed inauthentic. His words and his actions did not match up. First of all, Nick has been genuinely committed to sticking with me as much as he possibly can. He had a cast iron excuse to leave the country when I was diagnosed with cancer. His son was in trouble and his ex-wife was pressuring him to go home. His mother has been ill for some time. He needed to get back to work. Instead, he extended his stay in London by another two weeks. He came to all the appointments with me, sat with me in the very distressing ITU and had been on call day and night, making me salads and driving my sister around. Nothing has been too much trouble. Second of all, he did not give me the old “it’s not me, it’s you” speech and then skedaddle to a safe distance. Rather he hung around in the hospital all day, looking like a kicked dog and enduring the frosty reactions of several of my friends. It became quite painful to watch. I felt relieved when he finally decided to go home (to my home).

Flossie and Iris arrived first thing on Wednesday morning. I checked their handbags for guns and ropes. We don’t want any lynchings around here. Flossie sat down looking grim. Iris stalked about the room, picking up heavy, blunt items and testing them out on the palm of her hand. Flossie, in her psychotherapist persona, explained to one and all the concepts of Love Addiction and Love Avoidance expounded by Pia Mellody and the origins of those compulsive behaviours in childhood trauma. As far as I have understood it, in my drug-addled state, this is the SP*:

  1. Some original childhood trauma (taking care of an alcoholic, pill-popping mother / being fiddled with by uncle Freddy / trying to be the peacemaker between warring parents / finding Daddy with his head in the oven and so forth) causes us to have an incomplete understanding of close, mutually supportive intimate relationships. This leads us in adult life to behave either as Love Addicts or Love Avoidants.
  2. The Love Addict is drawn to people who are emotionally or otherwise unavailable. They create a fantasy about the other person and fall in love with the fantasy, rather than the real person.
  3. The Love Avoidant enters a relationship out of a sense of duty. They soon become overwhelmed by the other person’s neediness (I imagine that having cancer could be classed as neediness) and engineer a situation that allows them to escape.
  4. A person can display traits of both the Love Addict and the Love Avoidant.**

“Hmmph,” I muttered, “so what does that say about me?”

When Nick walked through the door (yes, he came back, again) I swear I could feel sizzles of static electricity arcing across the room. Flossie took Nick out for a little walk. I imagine she wanted to set him straight on a few things.

Some other events happened yesterday. It’s all a bit of a jumble in my mind.

The nurses removed the compression bra and changed my dressings. I took the opportunity to have a proper look at the site of the surgery (that’s possibly a Love Avoidant way of saying ‘my breast’). Then I passed out cold. Cindy visited and made a very good job of being all matter of fact and pleasant to Nick. Pete visited with more flowers. He was less able to keep up a jolly front. He looked at his shoes a lot. Royston swooped by and bundled Nick off to a steak house for dinner, no doubt to set him straight on a few more things, but from a manly perspective. Nick came back to the hospital late at night and begged me to give him another chance. I said something along the lines of “let’s see how it goes.”

* Flossie – If I’ve got this all back-to-front, please feel free to put me straight. I will be a great help not only to me but also to all readers of Chemo Chic.

** If you have read this and then thought: ”that sounds very familiar to me and it’s been making my life a misery. What can I do about it?” You may do well to get in touch with S.L.A.A.