e r l
e r l
Oct 5, 2017 · 4 min read

It is Wednesday. The hump day of another week with no income. I try to concentrate on something besides the constant hunger pangs reminding me that the kitchen cabinets are emptier than my stomach. My young child climbs and falls from a chair, bringing me back from my food porn daydreams.

There is exactly $8.59 in my bank account and no money coming any time soon. Maybe somebody stole my identity and debit card, leaving my life in ruins. More likely, though, I ruined it myself. I am pretty talented that way.

Somehow I find the courage to keep reaching out, despite being met with judgement (why did I stay for so long?) or uncertainty (living with strangers or being homeless) or flat out complaints that I should just BE different (wow, thanks had not thought of THAT yet).

I struggle to find how people do not understand I feel their criticism every day because that is how I feel about myself. That is always how I have felt about myself. It is not something I say for attention. I am not seeking compliments or reassurance (though, these are always fucking welcomed because who does not feel good about them really?????) when I tell you my lack of motivation comes not from laziness but from a self-sabotaging hatred.

I hate myself in ways that are not normal. I know this, but most of the time, to make other people comfortable, I hide it. There have been times when this was not such a daunting task. Mostly before cancer swooped in and stole my youth, my dreams, my future and nobody thought I should be THAT upset about it because I did not die at 23.

I got to survive.

But for how long? “How long will my life be” wasn’t something that haunted me before cancer, and now I cannot sleep wondering if I will see my sons become men. I watch my body change, unable to go back to this “normal” everybody keeps talking about. My hair falls out, not enough to notice other people say. Still I find myself staring in the mirror wishing I had two eyebrows instead of one — even a decent, thick uni-brow would be welcomed.

The thing that cripples me the most is the lack of control I have over any of it. I cannot make people love me the way I need to be loved. I cannot force people to be understanding or kind or emphatic or tolerant. I cannot cure cancer or hunger or poverty or social injustices.

My heart breaks for all the things that I cannot control, will never be able to control and I have always been raised and told how this makes me weak. Sensitive. Cry baby. Less than whole.


Do people date when they have cancer? When I found myself diagnosed at the age of twenty-three, I was somewhat successfully managing multiple FWB relationships with what I thought were “good” guys from my high school days. Guys who had been hounding me since we were teenagers. Guys who had zero problems ghosting when shit got too heavy with words like “cancer” and “radiation” (but we were just having sex, right?).

Apparently one of the guys got a girlfriend from my graduating class
(of 54 people) and she got suspicious when my name kept appearing on his Facebook search history. Especially since we weren’t even friends, and she messaged me nine days after I had major surgery removing my cancer, wanting to know if something was going on between us.

No, I am a little bit fucking busy right now.

I chose not to tell her that we were fucking right before they started dating. I forgot to mention that I really liked him, despite being super skeptical and having him harass him for years (literally years). I did not tell her the sex was great or that I was jealous when I saw they started dating.

I told her the truth: she had nothing to worry about.

I had not talked to him in months. Nothing was going on anymore. I was alone, fighting cancer. I spent most of my days in bed, hidden away in a room that was never really mine. If I sit still long enough, I can still feel the insignificant ache pulling at me. There is nothing lonelier than going through cancer alone.

Or is there?

The guy eventually fessed up to our transgressions (before they even started dating BTW), claiming it was just sex (for him, it was). Three weeks after my throat was cut open, she messaged me again to let me know that I was easy. That the only thing he wanted from me was sex. That I was nothing, and he was with her now.

She told me things I already knew. Things I knew were true but could never really understand why.

When I was little, I used to imagine I would get really sick and that would make everybody nicer to me. I can’t even say people were all that mean, nobody locked me in attics or punched me, but it was more that I really thought it would at least save me from getting slut-shamed.

The worst part is I let it get to me — sipping extra liquid Oxy (from surgery) was the only way I knew how to escape, sending my body in a state of zero fucks given. My toes went numb and I did not care about anything. This is not a story of addiction, though, at least not my own addiction.

the composite

made up of various elements

e r l

Written by

e r l

i am as i am ; writer of words

the composite

made up of various elements

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade