Sunday, September 22, 2013

What I Didn't Know I Needed

tonight's moon taken by me
It's a Saturday night, just after midnight. I'm sitting on my couch, in jammies, watching netflix.

I'm exhausted. Yet I can't sleep. This isn't the first night recently like this. In fact, it's not the second or third or tenth. It is frustrating .... beyond frustrating. I'd like to call my doctor, actually I'd like to call all of them, and just say please fix me - make my body start absorbing things like iron, make the stomach and other digestive issues go away, make more energy come to me, just fix it all.

Of course I can't do that at the moment, so I muscle through it, because really, what else is there? I've got this amazing family that is counting on me to do a lot of things. And in general, I enjoy doing those things. But. It's. So. Hard.

I can't fix the physical stuff right now. I'm doing what I can - eating iron-rich foods and pairing them with citrus. I'm having my dairy not with my iron. I'm spacing my dairy to ease my stomach. I'm eating more soups because they are tolerated better. I'm resting when I need to. I'm sure it's helping, or I hope it's helping. But it's not fixing.

So I turn to the emotional side of things. It's hard to feel happy when you feel so broken.

But. But I don't want to be a downer. I don't want to be stuck - not in cancer-land (or I guess post-cancer land) or in the woe-is-me mindset. Because it's easy to be stuck there, for me at least.

And yet I'm not a sunshine and rainbows and unicorns kind of person. Or a cancer is such a gift! person. Or a my life is so much better now! thinker. (Nothing against those who are, it's just not me).

However. There is space in the middle. I can be happy, and still feel icky. I can have a smile on my face, but still think cancer is the crappiest "gift" I've ever received. I can spend a few minutes venting and then spend the next two hours laughing and talking about a million other things. This sense of balance - the good, the bad, the stuff that makes me want to cry with the stuff that just makes me smile, it's always been hard for me. It's been even harder the last few years.

I often feel that I need to be HAPPY and UPBEAT and ALWAYS SMILE NO MATTER WHAT!!!! This is definitely mostly self-imposed, though I see this pressure in the cancer community - just stay positive! And it's scared me from any sort of support group. We're supposed to talk about how cancer is gift and has transformed me into a wonderful person and now the whole world is a better place because of it. No, seriously, I went to a meeting once and this was how people talked. It was their truth (or I hope it was and no one was acting to fit in). The women fed off of it and seemed happy. I felt awkward and uncomfortable. I also wondered what was wrong with me, and why I couldn't do cancer "right" - the way those women were doing it. So I shied away.

Going on my First Descents Trip last month changed all that for me. It wasn't a support group per say. But it was. There was so much weight lifted off my shoulders. It was just people hanging out, talking, sharing - the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly. It was freeing. So freeing. When I came home I immediately told my husband I needed this here. On a regular basis. It was refreshing and wonderful.

So thanks to a friend, I got plugged into a local cancer group that was less traditional support group and more, hey get together and whatever. Tonight I went to my first group get "meeting". We met at a restaurant and just hung out. Lots of talking, lots of laughter and smiles, lots of sharing. I left feeling lighter. The world was not magically transformed but my brain felt recharged so my ability to deal with the world drastically went up.

I suppose we are a support group. Not one with a social worker or therapist leading it. Not one that meets at hospital or cancer center. Just people, coming together to hang out, and oh yeah, we all had or have cancer. And in that coming together, there is so much support. And some new friends. Who don't freak out when you talk about your nipples (or lack thereof) because some of them are like "ME TOO!" Before you know the whole tables is laughing over nipples, even the guys.

This is what I've needed. This is what was missing. I just didn't know it. I didn't know it until I was there and saw how perfectly it felt in my heart and head.

When I walked back to the car, I noticed the moon in the sky. Tonight's moon was gorgeous. A bright, big, almost full moon - complete with it's scars and craters, at home in the sky amongst so many stars. That's what I felt like. My scarred, imperfect self, hanging out with a bunch of stars. And it was perfect.

1 comment:

  1. I tried to post before but I think I failed so ill try again. I was researching the moon on September 22, 2013 and your image came up. I read your blog and was so impressed with your writing and your Way of dealing with cancer that i had to write. My mother would have loved you. That perfect moon you saw that night was perfect for me too. This was the night my mother passed away. She was 89 and had a beautiful life. That night we were looking at the moon together and seeing the perfection in it. I prayed so hard that night and wanted a picture of the moon to remember her by. As I said, she would have loved you. Your no nonsense approach to life, accepting things on your terms, the way you feel most comfortable would have impressed her. I was certainly impressed. I will never forget you. Your beautiful story is now a part of my beautiful story. My mother had me write this. My best to you always.


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