Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Mental Balancing Act

Every so often I take a look at some of my previous posts.  At one stage I even started at the beginning and was honestly shocked by not only some of the things I went through, but also the things I'd forgotten.  I certainly don't mind the memories of the pain being pushed into the background.

There is no doubt my life has changed as the journey has progressed and some of those changes have definitely been mental as opposed to physical.  It's those mental changes I want to talk about here.

By the time treatment was over in mid August 2010, my outlook on life had changed, and when I returned to work in January 2011 there was no doubt I had also made changes in my attitudes and approach to work.

It would be easy to say I had bought into the infamous work/life balance, but looking back now I don't think that is actually true.  I certainly curtailed the long hours, my tolerance for dealing with the "whoa is me" merchants became almost non-existent, and I was making a conscious effort to ensure I put myself first.

So, four years later what has changed? Well, I'm back to working longer hours, thankfully still can't tolerate the naysayers, but most alarmingly, I now have doubts as to whether or not I'm the one in control.

2011 was a year of learning in reality.  Establishing what my body could and would handle, rebuilding my physical strength and seeing how much I could  actually do.  There were the ongoing medical visits, etc so it was very easy to make sure I was looking after myself.

The subsequent years have seen a new normality establish itself, the clinic visits are now few and far between and the big question I'm now asking myself is just how different my 2015 life is from my pre-cancer one.  The next logical question is then whether or not I'm happy with my lot today.

I'd be foolish not to acknowledge the bleeding obvious - if I hadn't had my 2010 experience I almost certainly wouldn't be here today.  Timing is everything.

But, and it's a big but, I was given a chance at a new life and I have to wonder if I've made the best of it.

Don't get me wrong, I personally believe I'm a better person now than I was then, but I go through phases where I question whether or not the fading memories have softened my attitudes and I'm no longer striving to be the best person I can be, or indeed making the most of the opportunity presented to me.

I remember my parents wanting me to push myself and to be the best person I could be, and I tended to interpret that mainly from an academic viewpoint.  Now I'm looking at the big picture and wondering if I'm settling for something less because it is easy and/or convenient.

Somewhere in the memory banks is something about life being too short to not make the most of everything that comes your way everyday. Am I really doing that, or am I just doing enough to placate my conscience?  I suppose I should also be asking does it matter?

Is doing enough of what doesn't necessarily make you happy in order to allow you to do what does really the extent of our goals from life?  Thus, working is a necessary evil (unless you win big on the lottery).  Should we actually be pushing ourselves to be the best person we can be?  Or does it really matter because to do so could actually only be satisfying somebody else's wishes/expectations, when ultimately happiness/gratification is very much a personal thing?

I don't have the answers, and as you can see I'm not even really sure of the question.  All I know is that the effects of 2010 continue to make me ask questions of myself that I'm not always happy with the answers to.

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