How often do you worry about what someone is thinking about you?
Tags: awareness, being human, bits and pieces, choices
I never question the possibilities only relish in the unexpected. M.E.
Tags: awareness, beauty, being human, challenge
It’s amazing what happy can do to a person!
It’s been awhile since I blogged and not because I had nothing to write, but because so much has happened I didn’t know where to start. I am happy. The end. And that’s where all of my experiences led me. It wasn’t easy. I’m a regular human being, being tested by the universe to fail and learn and succeed and learn. Or not. To go forward I had to go back, way back. My past clung to me creating pain and shame, sometimes sorrow and contempt and so many more negative feelings that it blinded me from the truth. And what’s the truth? That I am a master of my future as well as my past and the only one stopping me from progressing forward is me. Sounds easy now, right? Hah. The past can sneak up on you during your weakest moments. It has the uncanny power to wrench the confidence you think you have right out of your bucket of makeshift coping tools to show you just how fallible it is.
Every conflict I encountered brought my past into full focus under the guise of anger and or betrayal which led to regret, shame and guilt. You’re stuck in a bubble fighting the past instead of solving the problem in the present which would no doubt strengthen your future. Focusing on what has happened will get you nowhere. Accepting what was and moving on will. We have all done things we regret. It’s what makes us human, and honestly that’s not such a bad thing as I once thought.
We can’t change our actions that shadow our journey, but we can accept them and move forward using them as a guide and not a crutch.
One revelation that helped me understand, and accept my past as is and stopped wasting energy on the Why did… Or How could… was I stopped taking what people did and said personally. We are on this journey alone. Yes, we are surrounded by family and friends and many others, but we choose what does and does not affect us. We allow pain to invade our happy place, if we let it.
For instance: You’re having a good day, smiling shopping around in Guiseppe’s Italian market, collecting ingredients for your amazing sauce when you pull up to the cashier and she looks like she would rather kill you than ring you up. Okay, you can do one of two things: Call her a bitch in your head which lowers your good energy vibes, which in turn sinks you into a foul mood OR you can engage in conversation and show her/him that you care by asking, “Bad day?” thereby pouring some of your positive energy into her journey knowing that her mood had nothing to do with you. It’s much more difficult when the situation seems to be about you. Like when a friend or family member ignores you, or confronts you about something you did or seemed to do. Most people feel shame, guilt, embarrassment, or even wonder what’s wrong with them? The answer? Nothing. What made that person do that or feel that has nothing to do with you. You have your own monsters to confront you can’t take on theirs, too.
Of course that’s where my story begins but luckily does not end.
As a kid, I was afraid a lot. Home, school and even my dreams where unsettling. My parents teetered on a love hate relationship. The tension at home left me drained so that when I was bullied in school, I didn’t have the strength to fight back. Sleep was not an escape. Nightmares about an evil presence that would try to separate me from my family by trapping me in the dark basement or garage occurred over and over again.
I’m going to keep this next passage simple because I tend to get carried away and lose my focus when I go into detail about my parents’ relationship.
I at a very young age decided, obviously, not consciously, to become a shield between my father and the rest of my family. It did nothing of course. His journey rolled right over me. I didn’t stop anything or change anything. As I got older my actions affected my ability to trust and to let people into my world. I was angry…all the time. The man I fell in love with and married…I couldn’t trust. When we had children, I guarded them like a fierce momma bear. They had to be in my presence at all times. I had strayed so far from internal peace that darkness had begun to take over my body. Cancer.
I felt fine all snuggled up in my small, harsh perfectly unstable world. My mother, who died seven years before, reached out from heaven and slapped me in the back of the head. If you knew my mom, you would know she was a formidable woman, and very protective over her children. So when she came a-calling, I listened and made an appointment with a medium. She told me to have my chest checked out.
What a wake-up call. During my first, base-line mammography I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. My world turned upside down and I tasted the true bitterness of fear for the first time in my life. Who would take care of my young children, ages three, five and seven, as good as I did? My mom had died of colon cancer and even at the age of twenty-nine I was devastated. It felt like my security blanket (or in my case, green army towel) had been ripped from my clutches.
Control was no longer mine.
I stopped functioning while the world spun fast around me. My husband took over; he listened to the battle plans at doctor appointments while I stared in fright and heard death taunting me. When we got home my husband would repeat everything the doctors said to help me understand the treatment, which began with a mastectomy.
Reality hit and I made my first decision in saving my life. A double mastectomy. If I survived, there was no way in hell I was going to go through this again and I hadn’t even experienced the worst of it yet.
Step one: five days in the hospital missing my children after the surgery and many more recovering at home. How did I tell them? How did I make them believe everything would be okay when I was unsure of it?
Let me interject here. My mom, through the Medium told me I would go experience hell and survive it. I would raise my children. I didn’t have trust or faith in myself at that time as I do now.
When it came time to tell my children what was happening I stopped crying and focused on how to tell them. I chose dinner time a couple of days before the surgery. This was my first lesson on releasing the burden of expectations. I expected devastation, crying and chaos what I got was truly unexpected. I went through the whole horror story, but put it as delicately as possible. Afterwards I asked them if they had any questions. My oldest daughter asked “So you’re going to have plastic boobs?” The laughter that ensued was mind blowing and a game changer. I would survive.
Step two: Dose dense Chemotherapy. Four months total. Every other week non-stop with boosting shots in-between because I could not miss a week. The strict regimen was part of that specific treatment.
Step three: 28 days of consecutive radiation.
Step four: four more surgeries because I chose to have reconstruction. I wanted boobs.
Okay. Now that I explained the part I had no control over, I’d like to continue with the parts that I did. Chemotherapy kills quickly dividing cells, which includes hair. It’s what we called the Rambo effect in college biology. Cancer is our normal cells that somehow are triggered to multiply faster than usual causing the organ to eventually fail. Well not a fun fact but crucial to my next experience. Hair cells are naturally quickly dividing cells. I was going to lose my hair.
If you knew me well, you’d also know that I am not vain. I barely wear make-up allow my hair to design itself after a shower and salons are way out of my comfort zone. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been to one. Still the reaction to going bald came as a shock to me. I decided to take charge and had my cousin, a cosmetologist, shave my hair close to my head. I cried during the process but glad that it was on my own terms. Of course, when one day, as I was taking a shower and the little bit of hair I had on my head came in clumps off in my hand I fell apart. My husband must have heard me sobbing and came in to find me lying in a fetal position in the tub. I remember him turning off the shower and kneeling down by the tub. He took my hand and smiled. I jumped out of the tub into his arms and he took me to the bedroom and we laid down snuggling close. If you thought we were going to have sex, let me tell you this. Sex is furthest from your mind when you’re always nauseated and weak. He stayed home from work the next day to make sure I was okay. Still, in those few moments, he made me forget everything just by holding me, showing me I wasn’t alone. He was and still is the most amazing person I know and my best friend. And he wasn’t the only one who lifted my spirits.
After my double mastectomy, my sister and cousin would always make me laugh by telling me I would have perky boobs even at the age of eighty. Oh. I was only thirty-five when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After my chemotherapy started, my sister encouraged me to go on long walks with her on days I was strong enough. She came over and cooked. She picked up my children from school and kept them safe my when my husband sat with me in the infusion room for hours. I’d always trusted my sister and immediate family with my kids, but chose never to go out.
My world opened up before my eyes and showed me how much I was missing. My sister and immediate family couldn’t do it all by themselves. They needed reinforcements. In comes my husband’s family. You must remember here that I lacked trust in people I didn’t know or try to get to know and even though they were of my children’s blood the choices I’d made when I was very young came into play. My first and foremost concern throughout this time was my children. I had no control over what would transpire. My in-laws stepped up despite my at-arms-length personality and showed me how shadowed my beliefs were. Between my family and my husband’s my children were kept safe and I could focus on the battle ahead and begin healing.
Healing is key in any event that rips apart your belief system and forces you to grow or causes you to stagnate. Moving forward or reinforcing the wall that blinds you is a choice we all have to make at every crossroad. Fortunately, with the help of my army of support, I moved a couple of steps forward which was just enough to transport me out of the walls I’d built around myself. The world I’d walked into was both broad with spectacular colors and had terrifying edges and great heights. I wasn’t sure how to navigate around the steep drops and climb the sheer heights. I didn’t know the first thing about flying or the art of raising oneself up. Yet.
And there began my true living and learning and healing…. To be continued.