Friday, January 22, 2016

Separate...Not Equal

Three years ago this week, I was in isolation [in my bedroom] in the aftermath of a dose of radioactive iodine therapy to treat any remaining cancer left after my thyroid - which had two tumors the size of Baltimore - was removed. After the dosage of radioactive iodine, the person needs to be isolated from being in contact with anyone to whom they don't want to possibly emit radioactive nasties.

So, I spent seven days in my room. Now, on the surface this doesn't sound bad at all, right?  But the first half of that week I was still on a low iodine diet [also known as the "Holy Shit, This Food Has No Fucking Taste" diet]. Then, once I could go back to eating food with taste, the radioactive iodine left my taste buds dull so I still couldn't taste anything [and couldn't until February as I remember]. 

So, isolation isn't that great.  I've come to realize, though, that the experience three years ago was really symbolic of what had happened in years past as well as a foreshadowing of what would come in the years thereafter. The fact is, I've been in isolation for more than ten years. My old friend, the dictionary, defines isolation as, "the state of being in a place or situation that is separate from others". My circumstances have certainly placed me separate from others. 

The major life experiences that my peers have had have been separate - and often very different - from what my experiences have been with many of those same life events. This isolation takes many forms.  It's most notable, though [ironically enough], when I'm not alone. For it is when I'm with others and I'm hearing about their shared experiences with life that I realize that my situation has been/is completely separate from the others - who have had the "normal" experiences. So, even in a group, I can feel isolated.

The isolation was exacerbated by my first move - 90 miles away. It certainly separated me from others, but that was my choice and if I was isolated, well, that was what I asked for - to be separate from others so as not to be constantly reminded that I'm separate from others. Then the second move -  350 miles away - really put Operation Isolation into action. 

In the five years I've lived here I have made zero friends; worse than that, zero strong acquaintances - that same dictionary defines a 'strong acquaintance' as, "someone who would piss down your throat if your heart was on fire". Haven't met any of those. This town talks about how welcoming it is and what a great place it is to raise kids, and live a full life and yadda yadda yadda. Not in isolation, it isn't, I can tell you that.  I realize that I'm not extroverted and that - again - I was looking for isolation to some extent. But you would think it impossible to not make one strong acquaintance by accident in five years, even if you were a raging asshole [and while I may be an asshole, I take umbrage at the charge of 'raging'].

The recent experiences [cancer, out of work, near death, etc. ] have only separated me even more.  At my job, I supervised many people and had anywhere from 10-15 peers that I would - before last July, anyway - have considered strong acquaintances [see above for definition]. Since leaving the job, I've been contacted by three of them.  Three. And that was back in July. Since that initial "Go fuck yourself!" from them, I've heard nothing. So I left not only a job but the only social network I had.


Isolation: separate...and most definitely not equal.


By John Lennon

People say we got it made.n
Don't they know we're so afraid?
We're afraid to be alone,
everybody got to have a home.
Just a boy and a little girl,
trying to change the whole wide world.
The world is just a little town,
everybody trying to put us down.
I don't expect you to understand,
after you've caused so much pain.
But then again, you're not to blame.
You're just a human, a victim of the insane.
We're afraid of everyone,
Afraid of the sun.
The sun will never disappear,
but the world may not have many years.

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