[Spoiler alert – this longer than normal post – isn’t about a courtship in the traditional sense. It is about my new relationship with Lynch Syndrome. And my journey to come to terms with it — thanks to a little-known superhero in my life.]
I once was courted by a tall, charming man I never met. The problem was he lived on the East coast. I lived in the heartland of the Midwest, where I still live today.
He suffered from an addiction to sex (at least based on the exploits he shared).
I was married. [He didn’t care.]
And I wasn’t interested.
The courtship was completely one-sided. It began during a curriculum design project I was managing, remotely from home, for an online degree program at a public university. My “suitor” was a faculty member serving as the content developer. This meant we would be working closely – digitally speaking.
At first, it was all so harmless. He required regular email correspondence to discuss the specifics of the project. This soon became text messages, which led to phone calls. Most of the time, he turned the conversation to his life, his interests, his work at the nearby corrections facility, the women (yes, plural) he was dating.
My husband, ever patient and ever confident, observed this from a safe but friendly distance. I shared the details of the conversations, and we would laugh and scratch our heads – confused as to why this seemingly nice but troubled guy would share the details of his dating life with me.
But there were some details I couldn’t share. Because it soon became clear to me that some invisible boundary was slowly being nudged closer and closer to me. And I was the one who had to set the goal posts straight (and as far out and away from me as possible) if I was going to protect the life I’d built with my husband. It had been a hard climb to meet the right man, create a life together, as well as our family.
I wasn’t going to let that get destroyed for … nothing.
Not too long after, I resigned from the project, and told that tall man I only dance with the one who “brung” me. (And that wasn’t him.) He retreated back into the shadows. Life returned to its normal pace.
Then the floor dropped out from under me, my husband, my entire family. Lynch Syndrome. Colon Cancer. (Not my cancer. Not yet. This was[is] my sister’s fight.) Surgeries. Tests. More tests – with years of tests ahead.
Now when I speak, I talk about my life before Lynch Syndrome and my life after the diagnosis. I know I should just get over it. I don’t want to throw a regular pity party for myself. But there are moments, entire days, when I am overcome with anguish and a fear that paralyzes me.
What if the next polyp they find is cancerous?
I suppose I am grieving for something that hasn’t yet happened, but could happen. I am grieving for my sister, who is surviving colon cancer. I am grieving for the life I worked so hard to create and is now rearranging in ways I didn’t expect or want.
I want Lynch Syndrome to retreat into the shadows. I want this to be a chapter in one of those “choose your adventure” books. I want to choose a different chapter.
When I feel like this, I lean heavily on my husband, who sometimes patiently waits for me to reach out and who confidently pulls me close when I haven’t the strength to even speak my truth. Just as he always has before this began.
My superhero is my husband, and all the folks who stand beside those who are ill or living with the complications and challenges of these genetic mutations. And someday, with his help, I hope to thrive as confidently as the people living with Lynch or any other kind of genetic mutation.
“But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor—by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world. … [I]f he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things.
“He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him.
“The story is this man’s adventure in search of a hidden truth […]. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in, without becoming too dull to be worth living in.”
— Raymond Chandler, “The Simple Art of Murder,” 1950.
In response to the Daily Post, Discover Challenge: Superhero