11/23/11

In Which I Am Thankful

Warning: this is another one of those awful end of the year blog posts. My apologies. There’s a new FAQ section up top that is potentially more entertaining than the following.

It’s 75 and sunny as I write this atop my roof, staring at mountains and the Los Angeles skyline. It is Thanksgiving weekend, but it feels like July. If I could say one thing about this year, I would say it feels like July. Time has stopped, the weather is hot, there is suntan lotion on my face: it must be July.

But the turkeys doth protest! It is November. The year is coming to a rapid close.

I am ashamed to note that I have been writing this blog for three years, three years worth of billable hours and insomniac ramblings. At the end of each year, I usually say something to sum up the year. "Well, this year sucked but then everything was okay."


An honest disclosure and then an "it's okay", just in case anyone thought I was ungrateful for my good fortune, or that I failed to realize it could all be so much worse.

I wrote that "everything was alright" even if I was unsure I believed it, because I was in denial, and denial is so very cozy.
Hi Denial! So nice to see you. Is that a drink in your hand?

I've been sick since I was ten months old. I actually don't know anything else. But until a few years ago, I had cried approximately three times about the isolating cycle of doctors, specialists, hospitals and extreme pain. I just didn't cry. It wasn't allowed. I didn't even cry to the shrink my parents sent me to at 16, when they discovered pot under my bed. (I still maintain the marijuana was not mine.) 

Instead of crying, or showing normal emotion, I was a secretive mess of anger and sadness. Three cheers for healthy coping habits!


Sicker than I've ever been, I spent much of the past 18 months bitter I could not relate to the easy, loping gait of my healthy friends and peers. I was jealous of what seemed to be an easy existence. I envied the way they walked quickly and without feeling, how they lifted their legs and moved without pain.

I believed that stoicism equaled strength; that crying constituted weakness; that by divulging the secret that illness devastates, I would not be the Kelly everyone knew. I would not be funny, happy-go-lucky, strong.

It sunk me, this anger and depression. It affected my work, my relationship, my friendships. And my Duane Reade, who got a boost in Xanax sales.

I sought to anesthetize. I drank a lot. I said and did stupid, mean things that I am still struggling to understand and apologize for. I nearly ruined friendships that took years to build. I hurt the person closest to me. I was brutal to myself and I see now that I was brutal to others. (This post should actually be titled: “This year, I’m thankful I was forced into therapy.”)

In August, I moved out of my apartment in New York and came home to recover from July's hospitalization. I went on a trip to Colorado, a trip with fellow cancer survivors that quite literally changed my life. A trip that opened me up to the possibility of living a full life with illness, without denying its existence. And that changed everything.
 

Living your life twice is no easy feat. But I guess that's what I am trying to do. To remove myself from the past me--the Kelly who dealt with this illness in a shitty way, the Kelly who used it as an excuse for bad behavior, the Kelly who hid. 

I am trying to live again so I am still myself, but a better version of me, someone who does not run headfirst toward self-destruction.

This year I found a good way to go down in flames and then I turned around and found out how to stay away. And I wouldn't have done that without you.

So as the year comes to a close, I have a lot to be thankful for. I’m thankful I live here in LA, a place I need to be. I’m grateful to Solo Survivors and Tracy Maxwell, who sent me on that trip down the Colorado River. I’m thankful for everyone who reads this blog and for the daily encouragement I get from you. The cards, emails, tweets, gift baskets--I am thankful for the love that sailed me through the sick this year. I’m also thankful for Friday Night Lights, just because of this:


Thank you to everyone who tried to be the change I desperately needed, who saw when I was flailing and calmed me. I hope to pay all this love forward.

Into the brightness we go.  




13 comments:

  1. I admire the honestly of this post...change is hard but sometimes necessary. Good luck.

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  2. I really love this. You seem clear and focused. Go on.

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  3. You make me laugh and break my heart all at the same time. Wishing you well.

    P.S. I share your enthusiasm for one Tim Riggins. - I can't believe there's no more FNL.

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  4. WHO ARE YOU, ANONYMOUS?!

    FNL ending is one of the saddest things to ever happen to me. For real.

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  5. You have the smallest hands I have ever seen.

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  6. Hey, if they're big enough to hold a wine glass, they're BIG ENOUGH FOR ME!

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  7. deborahmccurdy@gmail.comNovember 28, 2011 at 10:05 PM

    I have always told you how empowering your words are. You have such a unique gift with the written word and I am thankful you are sharing your story with the world. It is am important story to tell and you document your life with realism, passion and humor. You draw the reader into your story through your style, technique and honesty. Stay strong, Kelly Bergin. Your fan club is depending on you! Love you lots in LA - all the way from Ohio. I've got your back, sis (I know ... it's so 80's of me) but I do!

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  8. A. I am also thankful for Tim Riggins.
    B. California looks good on you. I admire and am jealous of your bravery.
    C. Brightness, here we come, indeed.

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  9. A short haired, stubble faced, and animated Taylor Kitsch was almost unrecognizable
    on Jimmy Kimmel last night. Give me the brooding, badass, greasy haired Tim Riggins any day. I know, I know -- he's just a character, but DAMN!!!

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  10. Kelly,

    I just read this (don't know how I missed it earlier), and literally sobbed about your authenticity and the impact that the canoe trip had on you. I am so glad you came, and can't wait to see what you write to contribute to my book on being single with cancer (get writing and send me some stuff).

    I am also thrilled to share your passion for Tim Riggins and I miss FNL terribly.

    And finally, I can't wait to read YOUR book someday soon. You have so very much to share with the world my friend.

    Happy New Year!
    Tracy Max

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