I’m a member in a few private groups on Facebook, and they are wonderful for me. My cancer ones are great because I can write things that no one I know will ever see. I am lucky to be part of a self care sharing group in which I know some of the members but not all, and they are so loving it’s like a hug and validation as soon as I post. There’s a political one and a geeky one, just things for fun where I can “say aloud” some of the thoughts I need to censor in real life. They’re comforting.
Thursday afternoon I shared some deeply personal thoughts with my self care group and I’m really glad I did. I got an offer of support that I didn’t even really know I needed. I was sort of ranting about one thing and a lovely person saw a player in my situation whom she knew she could help me with. She and I will meet and discuss what I need and it feels wonderful to know I have that. She is someone I only know peripherally, but she makes me feel loved and welcomed as only a good mama can. I’m lucky to know her.
As I said earlier, I know no one in my cancer groups. There are two I’m a part of, and one is very active with posts while the other is clinical. It’s pretty much the same group of people, but the focus of each group is specialized. The rant I had posted on the one site I also posted on the other, with some minor deletions for my own comfort. I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.
Within an hour 56 strangers offered me words of support. Fifty. Six.
I was so overwhelmed with love and kindness. All of these women shared their love with me. Some posted similar situations. Some shared in my anger and frustration. Some just told me to stop and take care of myself immediately. A few even got more angry and aggressive than I was and suggested drastic measures to solve my problem and call myself. It was like a heavy blanket- soft and safe and cozy.
Among all of these comments was one which I hope I never forget. After telling me about a similar life experience to what I am currently having, this particular stranger said, “That’s the first time I realized, I need to secure my own oxygen mask first.” How simple. We all hear it on planes. There are jokes made about it all the time. But you really need to do it. If you don’t, you can run out of oxygen before helping the other person, and then you’re both out of luck.
That’s what I had been doing. I’d been trying to help someone else with their oxygen mask, a mask which has serious damage and a person who doesn’t really want to wear it, instead of my own. I need my oxygen, too, but I’m running out of breath before I get to even try putting mine on. Well, not anymore. My oxygen mask is first starting today. I take care of myself before I put on anyone else’s. I have to. I have to breathe, too.