Over the past few days I have been surprising myself and those around me with a strong display of assertiveness. Or perhaps the surprise has been in the lack of a display. Of any display.

This week I have been faced with multiple confrontations. Some were expected. An appointment with a new medical practitioner always seems to carry a battle-like element, whether openly adversarial or not. Some involved strangers, the discord that can arise when assumptions are made and expressed. And some involved family, people who are only looking out for my best interests, but have their own opinions about what those might be.

I generally avoid confrontation at all costs. It’s not that I back away per se, I simply try to remove any potential for conflict before it arises. And when I feel tension creeping into my days, I feel ill. I worry about what I may have said, I dissect the impressions I might have given off, and I overanalyze into the night.

This week was full of something that I struggle with, and yet I felt none of the usual anxiety that generally accompanies the discord.

I felt calm throughout my various appointments, simply going through my medical history, cracking a few jokes, owning up to past mistakes in my care management, and taking pride in my current physical state.

I did not grow upset at the comments of strangers, calling me a princess for taking a cab to physiotherapy. They did not know me, and I did not need them to. I simply laughed, sat back, and let them drive me to my appointment.

And I felt detached, as some of those closest to me grew frustrated.

I am very proud of the way that I dealt with my medical appointments and the dismissal of strangers. I feel strong in my confidence.

But I am unnerved by my feelings of detachment and ambivalence towards the frustrations of family members. After all, they are frustrated because they care. And whether they simply want to be involved, or whether they truly believe that they can help, ultimately, it is because they care about me. They care enough to get legitimately annoyed when I don’t share information about my appointments and my day to day symptoms.

And yet, I have listened to increasingly pointed comments with no guilt whatsoever. Completely contrary to the stress I usually feel when I have disappointed someone.

I don’t wish pain on anyone. Especially not someone who truly cares about me. And I most certainly don’t wish to be the cause of that person’s pain.

I want to laugh with the people that I love, and that love me. I want to share with them, to live alongside them.

But I refuse to halt or alter my decisions at the whims of others. I will not make my life more complicated, to reassure others of their influence on my progress. Of the value they bring.

And, truly, I don’t think anyone would actually want me to. These people who rush to give me advice, who grow annoyed when I don’t take it, when I don’t divulge the gritty details of my health, are the people who, more than anything, want me to succeed. They want me to be happy.

I am fighting desperately to create a life for myself. I hope to always be there for the people in my life, just as they have been for me, but I cannot and will not live my life on anyone else’s terms but my own.

It doesn’t have to be a solo journey. But it does have to be mine.

And I feel no guilt in that.

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  • Evelyn Greenberg says:

    Hi Neighbour:
    Do you know you are only four minutes away from me?
    Let me know when I can pick you up, bring you tea, have you come here – any of the above.
    I would love to see you, Ophira.
    AND, I am so glad you chose to come back to Ottawa.
    Yes, it was YOUR choice, yet another example of how you wish to live your life – making your own choices.
    I am proud of you.
    Love from your constant fan, Evelyn.
    613-234-8934.

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