• 'No, I can't do that, my consultant wouldn't like it'
I must emphasise before I begin my story that the whole of my life seems to have been premised on the principle of conflict. Both within my family and my wider social context it felt as if there were a continual war going on just beneath the surface, threatening to break out if certain rituals were not observed. I needed constantly (though in a way I think this was quite justifiable) to argue and rebel against what appeared to be expected of me, to try to be more 'in control'; not only within the family and at school, but also later at work and in my partnerships with the opposite sex. When I was silenced, as I was on many occasions, I learnt other strategies for survival through 'disobedience': withdrawing my love, withdrawing my labour, withdrawing my body. I also learnt that I could wield a form of negative power as an individual, through illness. In the process, however, I also became alienated from that centrally evolving core of selfhood, which has only recently shown itself to be recoverable, in therapy and within the safety of a new and differently defined loving relationship formed since I became disabled with cancer.