I feel numb, detached. I can’t seem to express this emotionally, and I’m not sure why. I’m looking for normative responses - is there something wrong with me that I don’t feel a different way, or do others experience this, too?
It’s like this. My wife may have cancer. I say “may”, and I’m holding on to the “may”, even though it’s a pretty slim hope. The doctors are uncertain of the diagnosis. They think it’s a lymphoma, but it’s not a normal type, it’s in the wrong spot. They’ve spent weeks trying to diagnose it, and we’re on pins and needles. It’s…
Wait, let me start over. That paragraph is not exactly what this post is about - it’s more a symptom of the problem. The problem is that I find myself reacting too clinically, and it just seems wrong. People at work ask me about it, friends, my side of the family, and all I can seem to do is recite a list of the latest news, with medical terminology, in a detached sort of way. I feel like screaming in anger, or breaking down crying, but I can’t - it’s never the right time. And if I do, I may never stop. So I don’t. Instead, I feel like I should put a hopeful, optimistic face on it. Be cheerful. After all, if the doctors don’t know quite what it is, they can’t be sure it’s not cancer, right? Right? Trouble is, I don’t quite manage cheerful optimism, either. I manage detached clinical numbness. (Or perhaps that’s as optimistic as I can manage.)
I feel like I’m coming across as a heartless bastard. That’s not how I feel, but I’m worried that’s what I express. I don’t want to look that way to my coworkers, my friends, my family. I especially don’t want to look that way to my wife, who needs my support. (What kind of support? If I’m cheerfully optimistic, does that seem like I’m not taking it seriously? If I’m sad or angry, is that just adding more burden to someone who is already having to deal with this even closer than I am? As it is, does my detachment make me look like I care less than I do?)
Anyway, this was kind of pointless, so that’s why it’s in this spot. Would others act this way?