I have a little secret to share with you…

I’m really good at starting fights.

I know you probably wouldn’t guess that about me, but it’s true– just ask my husband.

You’re probably wondering why I’m making this unsolicited confession, so allow me to explain.

I have a manual for my life that reads as follows:

  • People should be nice to me on special occasions (like my birthday).
  • They shouldn’t argue with me.
  • They should watch what I want to watch.
  • Eat where I want to eat (where scallops are served, OF COURSE!).
  • And pretty much do what I say.
  • It’s my birthday (or insert any special occasion here), anything goes.

I’ve recently discovered I have the same manual with cancer.

I’m sick, therefore it’s all about me. Not really… but kind of.

I feel like cancer should be my get out of jail free card to shield me from the usual human discomforts like hurting people’s feelings, or dealing with emotions that I’d rather avoid while living through surgery recovery and chemotherapy treatment.

Newsflash.. other people don’t give a F about my manual.

While I’ve received an overwhelming amount of love and support and goodness that truly blows my mind, at the end of the day we are all human.

Delighted to be driving myself somewhere on my own the other day, someone honked at me because I took too long to turn after a light changed. Doesn’t he know I’m fighting for my life and taking time to appreciate the beautiful fall leaves?

My husband who has been generously playing dual roles as husband and caretaker explained a situation to me where something I did hurt his feelings. Doesn’t he know how I feel? How each day I wake up wondering how sick I’ll be? Gently he pleads his case. Stoically I revert to my manual, I’m sick therefore I shall avoid all emotional discomfort.

… And the heads roll! Follow me for more marriage tips. LOL!

But really, I know this recipe leads to a fight, and still I stick to my guns because it’s the principle!!!!

Can you relate?

While I’d love to kick back on cruise control for the next four months of my treatment and have the world pander to me, the truth is that’s not realistic and even on days when I feel awful, I’m still human. I make mistakes.

When I think of my manual for life and how certain things just seem to happen completely outside of my plan, such as my husband’s feelings getting hurt, I start thinking about how I really want to be.

Actually, at first I react and then I think oh shit, I chose wrong. But I can choose again, I can choose better.

The Dalai Lama says that at the root of happiness is compassion. If I were compassionate to other drivers, to my husband whose feelings are hurt by something I said or did, or in general, when life doesn’t go according to my plan, how would I act differently?

I’d choose compassion.

When I choose compassion, I don’t react, I listen. I hear and empathize. I think of what is happening on the other side, and I curiously wonder about my part.

Someone once said to me “do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?”

At the end of the day, I choose happiness, and that means principles be damned.

When life happens, choosing compassion disarms fury and increases our capacity to see life through the lense of love.

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