On Silver Linings And Cancer

It may take some time before you see the silver linings.

Is cancer able to provide someone with silver linings? Yes, it is able to do just that. However, it is also possible that no silver linings will emerge. Moreover, these silver linings may not become evident for some time after treatment. It took about one year and a half after treatment for my own silver linings to appear.

It bears repeating. If you are trying to help someone undergoing treatment, do not ask your friend to see the silver linings. Now is not the time. If they bring it up, okay, but don’t push it on them. If someone had wanted to talk to me about silver linings during my treatment, I would have received this person pretty badly. Even after treatment is over, talking about silver linings may be unwelcome. Read this article if you need more advice about how to be a true friend to someone dealing with cancer:

As I said, I did not see my own silver linings for a while. However, these silver linings did come, in time. My cancer made me get out of a marriage that had grown stale. It was not the direct cause of our divorce, but it was a catalyst. We were in trouble as far back as 2018. My cancer manifested in 2020. I was done with treatment in 2021. It is in 2022 that we started talking about divorce. I did not want to divorce. My autistic traits, and the fact that my wife couldn’t bear these traits, were really the root of my divorce. I think if we had known that I was autistic, and if we had talked about non-conventional alternatives to the divorce, we may have stayed together. However, our relationship definitely could not have stayed as it was.

Mind you, I was happy in my marriage, although perhaps a bit less towards the end when my ex-wife and I were discussing divorce. However, I’m sorry to say that some aspects of this marriage were not favorable to my blossoming. Neither my ex-wife nor myself set out to do this, but my marriage stunted my growth, and sheltered me from a good deal of the cares of the world. I have grown so much more in the relationships that followed my divorce. Some people call these relationships failures, because they did not last. I call them successes, because of what I learned.

Concomitant with the divorce, the cancer pushed me out of multiple closets. I reasserted that I’m pansexual. I did bring up polyamory back in 2018, but a therapist steered us back to monogamy. After the cancer, I reasserted this desire for polyamory. I also discovered BDSM. Last chronologically, but not least in importance, it made me realize that I’m autistic. These all happened in 2022, except for the revelation that I’m autistic, which happened in 2023. All of these coming outs are so many ways in which I live my life more authentically now.

I’m also living my life more kindly and affectionately now. No, it is not that I was a complete jerk prior to my cancer. I may in fact always had been on a trajectory towards more kindness and affection. However, the suffering that the cancer brought on, my temporary disability, and the discovery that I’m autistic, inflected the curve upwards. I am definitely more present for my siblings in misfortune than I used to be.

I’d say that my spiritual development has also accelerated after my cancer. It is a bit difficult to put into words what I mean precisely. It is undoubtedly the case that I now know that people who try to help a friend dealing with cancer will unfortunately be uneasy when their friend expresses their own suffering. They will thus address the symptoms of this suffering, and try to counter the suffering with diversions or flat out contradiction. “Find the silver linings,” they will say. “It could be worse,” they’ll declare. In fact, the best thing they can do is to just listen.

I’ve also started to know things in my bones after the cancer. A Zen Master can tell you a thousand times that the ego is an illusion, or that you are already enlightened. You can believe this in a discursive way. However, it is not until you know this in your bones that you really know this. The beginning of the following article may be helpful to understand the distinction between the various types of knowledge:

I know now that I am already enlightened, and that I just need to realize it. Even when you know things in your bones, the practice never ceases.

For some people, there may be no silver lining to their own cancer. I cannot tell you why it is that some people will find a silver lining, and some won’t. It could be chance. It could be that the trajectory of their life is not conducive to this, whereas mine is. I don’t know. I did not write this article to contradict those people who will not find a silver lining. If someone said to me that there was no silver lining to their cancer, I’d believe them. Their experience is different from mine. It does not follow that their experience is false, or that mine is false. They both can be true at the same time.

If you yourself are dealing with cancer, I hope you manage to find your silver linings. It may take years after the end of your treatment before they show up, but I hope they do show up and that you recognize them as silver linings.






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