Saturday, February 26, 2011

Drama Fatigue

There is something enormously fascinating about the human (well, let's say male) brain. Given the enormous stress we've been under the last several days since the latest news, it's no wonder mine's a bit addled. The typical male response to stress is fight or flight. Clearly a cabana boy cannot do either of those things in this kind of situation.

So I had to wait a few days. Today was cave day. I went down to my letterpress studio and did a bunch of mindless sorting, storing and transferring of type from one drawer to another. (Total aside - I just got my nine boxes of my new "house" metal font, Caslon, in various sizes and types [normal, bold, and italic in 8,12, and 24 point font] and am swapping those into my good drawers which are right now occupied by obscure fonts and sizes in incomplete or low count letters. But I'd feel guilty as heck throwing those away, so am making the effort to store them properly - sorted in most cases, in other cases, into a bag with just the name and size - dealing with that will be for another decade. So when the revolution comes I'll be able to print the manifestos when the power and internet are out). Now back to our story and point.

The first job after the cancer news delivery, other than steeling myself, was continuing to provide steadfast support to Meagan that we can prevail. That takes a lot of emotional energy, and a lot of willingness to listen. Listening well, with full empathy and concentration and focus does not come naturally to most guys. There were many times over the last few days when I simply wanted to hunker down. But that's not what she needed. She needed reassurance and connection. She also needed information (about the National Cancer Institute) and the various clinical trial options. So I was operating at these two different levels (investigator and supporter, while the little primal part of my brain was saying, "run, run away").

Fortunately I've had a bit of training over the last 9 months. It's never easy to stay and do your job, but you can be aware at a meta level what your primal instincts are and hit the override button. In order to stay sane, there does need to be some downtime. Sometimes it's early in the morning, watching first light, and just staring. Or like today. Or watching a mindless game on tv. But cabana boy self-care is a huge part of being in tip top shape to provide the support needed.

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