The Luxury of Complaining

The luxury of complaining.

Complaining is a waste of time.  Can we learn to be clear about what we want, what is okay and what is not okay with the people we love?  If we can be clear about what we want, work toward our goals and set responsible boundaries maybe we can eliminate our need to complain, we are then just left with a bad habit!

During the time I was being treated for cancer I did not complain much.  I didn’t complain about my kids, my marriage or my family.  I did not complain about my job, my income or my health insurance.  Complaining about your life something that healthy people do.  When I was sick I was so happy to have a family!  I did not complain about my spouse because (she is great) and I was just happy that someone loved me in the face of my infirmity and imperfection.  My wife was supportive and strong.  She was my best and most vigilant advocate, making sure everything that was supposed to happen did.  From the small things like making sure the site for an IV was adequately cleaned to making sure that the medications that I was given was the right medication and that it did not cause an adverse reaction. My children were great and I didn’t complain about them because I love them so much and I was so afraid that I wouldn’t see them grow up, go to the big dances, graduate from high school, start and finish college, get married or have kids –  my grandchildren.

I didn’t complain about work because I was so grateful to have a job.  I also needed and loved having the insurance that comes with a job. (Thank you, once again Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois) I was so happy to work.  I don’t know how people who can’t or don’t work do it!  I needed the activity and distraction that work provided.  Not working would have given me too much time to think about myself and my situation. I fear it would have led to self-pity and depression. When I was too fragile to go out and see clients I could still make it to the office and call people, write letters and articles.  My business partner, my co-workers and clients were kind and supportive.

Many things that bothered me or irritated me when I was well, I didn’t even notice any of the times I was being treated. Because I was treated for cancer four times over almost 10 years this was an enduring period of appreciation and gratitude. Even during the times I was not being actively treated, I was just a PET scan, CT scan or bone marrow biopsy away from another round of chemotherapy.

My lack of discontent did not have any obvious disadvantages.  I worked.  My spouse and I had good and bad times together and we supported and encouraged each other through them. We were and are so very grateful for every good thing that happens. Our kids are our kids, they did the things that kids do, some good and other things that were not ideal!  When I hugged them close I would stick my nose in their neck and breathe deeply and savor their smell, even when they would tell me how weird I was and am.

But after almost 10 years my cancer is in remission.  So now comes the challenge.  Can I maintain my attitude of gratitude and appreciation when there is no looming threat of treatment or death?  Will I start to wish that things in my life could be different, easier or better?   Have I learned not to take my life for granted?  How much have I learned?   I know that this is not a challenge that I face alone.

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