My relationship with Mateo (my L.A. tango teacher) expands. Our dance lessons had become emotionally painful for me as I was developing more personal feelings for Mateo and could not tell if my feelings were reciprocated. In this letter I reached out to him, not as my teacher, but as my friend.

Reaching Out for Support

July 10, 2012

Hi Mateo, [Tango teacher in L.A.]

I hope you are doing well . . .

This will be the second time I will approach something sensitive and delicate in an e-mail—I apologize.  I am choosing e-mail because I am going to ask you something, and you may want to say “no” and that will be easier to do in an e-mail; you will not feel so on the spot as if I asked you directly in person or on the phone.

Things are continuing to unfold magically pretty much on all fronts as I prepare for my big move from L.A. to Marin.  In the back of my mind, I have been thinking that I need to return to the surgeon for one last appointment before I leave.  It is at a cancer center, and these appointments are so emotional for me and often trigger PTSD—post traumatic stress.  During my first bout with cancer, there was not enough support and it was horrible.  [I was actually greatly supported by my coworkers during the three surgeries needed to achieve clear margins.  However, during the seven weeks of radiation that followed, the support dropped as people were no longer aware of my need, and I did not feel comfortable asking for more support.]  During those seven weeks, I would come home and cry myself to sleep and fantasize that I was being held.  It took me almost beyond the human threshold.  My energy was limited by the treatment, so it was a time of grave isolation.

With the second bout of cancer, when I elected for mastectomy and reconstruction, the “army” came in for support.  For the mastectomy, my theater class was like an angelic presence engulfing me.  By the time of the reconstruction, I was actually in a new relationship.  My boyfriend moved in with me for the week, and it made the experience a strange combination of hell and heaven.  But mostly I was supported by God.  I turned myself over, I surrendered like I have never surrendered before, and I was carried. Sometimes movement felt effortless, as if I didn’t even exert my muscles to walk.  It was very real but had a dreamlike quality to it.

It has become particularly clear in the last year that I have to feel like I deserve happiness in order to be happy and that I have to ask for what I want.  Traditionally this has been very difficult for me . . . but what I want isn’t just delivered to me in the mail :)  I have to know what I want, I have to feel I deserve it, and I have to ask for it.

Anyway, that was a long intro to the issue at hand.  I do not want to go to this upcoming doctor’s appointment alone.  I have been thinking about it the past few weeks, slightly stressed.  I have completely walked away from the “cancer circuit.”  I refuse to be tested and prodded every few months by people “looking” for cancer.  I cannot live like that.  The impact on my quality of life is tremendous.  I would rather live 6 months in the light than 60 years in the cancer circuit (though I prefer 60 years in the light and believe it is likely that is what I will get).  I have, however, faced the issues of death in a very real way and am at peace with my decisions.  However, I do need to see this doctor one last time because I am unclear about a few things regarding my care.  At some point I will need another surgery—the implant will need to be replaced—and I am not totally clear how I will know when; hopefully it will be fifteen or more years from now, but I have to know how to properly care for my body and the changes that were made to it.  I could call him on the phone, but my instincts tell me I need to go in in order to get the clarity I need in response to my questions.  Plus, I have not been seen by this doctor since one month after my last surgery, so it would probably be good to have a follow-up before I move.

I know this is a lot to ask, and it is also awkward since we don’t know each other well, but I was hoping you might be willing to “escort” me to this appointment.  I would need to be driven, as my probable state of mind will make me a very unsafe driver.  I will probably be anxious and may cry, so you would have to be comfortable with those types of emotions.  This would all be easier for both of us if you knew me better.  I am sure I have other options, but when I thought about this and who I wanted to ask, surprisingly you are the person who came to me.  I think it is because something about you is comforting to me and because I also enjoy you; it would kind of be like a reward on a difficult day.  So, back to the beginning of this e-mail, I have to ask for what I want, so I am asking . . . BUT I will not take it personally if you decline.  I will more than understand.  If you say “no,” I trust the universe will provide me with some other option that also feels satisfying.  If you do say “yes,” I can work the timing of the appointment completely around your schedule.  But again, please no pressure or guilt, I am aware it is a lot to ask.  For me the most important part is the asking; the answer is secondary.

Please let me know either way.



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