I’ve been thinking a lot lately about forgiveness. It’s definitely something I’ve struggled with in the past and something I continue to grapple with today. I’ve had my fair share of being wronged in my life but if a person legitimately apologizes or reaches out to make amends, I’m generally amenable to a fault. I find the person I have the most trouble truly forgiving is myself…and that’s the person you really need to forgive at the end of the day. As much as you may hate yourself sometimes, you’re all you’ve got. We come into this world alone and we leave it alone. If you can’t even forgive yourself then how can you ever expect to forgive someone else? Sometimes you love the wrong people. Sometimes you make the wrong decision. Sometimes you trust someone you shouldn’t. Sometimes the people you think will be in your life forever disappear without a trace. Sometimes we fall and we stay down longer than we intend to. Sometimes you mistake evil for good. Sometimes you wish you’d done something differently. Sometimes we just plain fuck up. But we have to just keep on truckin’. I know that I am always striving for perfection and that I often hold myself up to impossibly high standards. I also know that these are both recipes for disappointment. No one is harder on me than I am on myself. I have compassion and love for all of the people in my life, even strangers garner more empathy from me than I can muster for myself. It can be really hard to start the process of true forgiveness, but it’s ultimately a road worth taking. If we can treat ourselves the way we would treat a beloved relative or a treasured friend we would all be much better off in our own minds and spirits. We tend to forget that we are fallible, erroneous and fragile. We don’t know everything and we don’t always make the best choices. We can let it weigh heavy on our hearts and minds or we can simply forgive ourselves, learn from our mistakes and try again. Bad things happen in life, it’s just inevitable. Be it because we are being punished by some higher power or because life is just a random series of occurrences and some of them are bound to be shitty. I honestly don’t know where I stand as far as the why, but I trust that forgiveness is a factor in the healing of our self-inflicted wounds.
So here we are, nearly 13 weeks after the surgery. It’s crazy how fast time has been flying on the one hand, but on the other, things seem to be moving at a crawl. I’ve been on what I’ve aptly dubbed as “house arrest” for what is beginning to feel like a small eternity. It’s just me, my cats, my unyielding thoughts and my crutches day after day in a sea of books, television, my loyal peeps/family and the occasional jaunt to a medical facility. Sometimes I feel like I’m looking at life through a pinhole, craving the freedom and independence of escape but also feeling the fear of what lies in wait. I’ve been cooped up for so long I’ve become like a caged animal, afraid to leave captivity but feeling my base instinct telling me I am meant to roam free. There are days like today where I just feel full on anxiety wrapping it’s evil clutches around my guts, unsure of how I can truly relax. I have to remind myself that while this feels somewhat like purgatory, hell is miles behind me. That there has been a marked progression in my circumstance from where I was all those weeks ago. I can now crutch short distances without a wheelchair. I can cook myself meals, albeit with an annoying level of difficulty. I no longer need help bathing. I don’t need the support bars over my toilet to use the bathroom. I can sleep in my bed alone without being deathly afraid. I can sit here and type this post without crying out in agony from sitting. They are small victories but they are victories none the less.
People are always talking about taking things one day at a time and saying that one should always live their life in the present moment. I’ve always had extreme difficulty doing this and have definitely struggled with the concept of both throughout my tumultuous journey. The only thing I know is that the past is too painful and the future is too frighteningly uncertain. So I will do my best to just rest here in the present. As Emily Dickinson so poignantly wrote over 60 years ago; Forever is composed of nows.
It’s been a very long time since I’ve been in an actual, legitimate relationship. Unfortunately, I’ve had more hurt and disappointment than love and happiness over the last three years. Many a night have I cried myself to sleep, hoping that circumstances could be different. That my prince was just waiting for his perfect moment to ride gallantly into my life and save me from the evil that has plagued me. To wake me from this seemingly endless nightmare and bring me back to life. At this point, after everything I’ve been through, I feel like I need love now more than I ever have. Some days I can literally feel the open space deep within my chest, empty and hollow. Other days it’s a constant gnawing, an unsatiated hunger that leaves me cold. I have a desperate longing for the touch of a man, to feel his love wash over me and take away this melancholy that haunts me so. To feel the warmth and safety of strong arms wrapped around me, fingers intertwined. To lay my head on his chest and breathe in the scent of his skin while he runs his hands through my hair. To be truly loved, desired, needed, wanted, all of it. To belong to them. To finally be something to someone. To be beautiful to them. To have my heart truly be received by a kind soul. To feel the pain of what I’ve been through slip away with each gentle kiss, with every lasting embrace. To look into someones eyes and see their passion reflected back into mine. To simply exist with each other, healing together in love. To feel that hopeful spark of happily ever after. It’s a stupid dream, really. It seems to be the dream of a naive child and not that of an educated woman, but at the end of the day it’s the dream I wish and hope with all of my heart will come true.
Today I’m feeling like I’m going to burst. Like there is something inside of me that needs to be released but there’s no way out. I can literally feel a blockage. Something pushing down hard, keeping everything inside. There’s a dam built up high deep within, holding back the floodgate. I’ve tried to cry a few times but it never came to fruition. I wish I could reach inside my chest and pull out all of the weight I feel pushing me under, but I can’t. The heaviness swallows me up whole and all I can do is let it. I have so many thoughts and emotions no one can touch, no one can see. No one ever will. Things I would never want anyone to know. I long to be relaxed, to be loose, to be carefree and content. To cast off the stone that weighs me down and to fly. To trade pain for ecstasy, fear for valor, despair for hope. This ache is too much to bear today. Every day is different when you are being held captive by your own body. A body I once loved and showed proudly to the world is now the same body I want to hide and keep locked away. I wish someone could just come and kiss this all away like it’s been nothing but a bad dream. But it’s just me. I’m alone. And as much as I wish it could be, life isn’t a fairy tale.
Cancer can make you do some stupid things. It can completely cloud your judgement. It can lead you back to people and situations that are just as toxic now as they were once upon a time. But you think, “Fuck it, I have cancer. What do I have to lose?” While that initial bout of fearlessness is quite liberating, in the end it will only break your heart. Some things never change, even though you have. You think things will be different now, but they won’t. Everything seems to be just as you left it. Why do we suddenly cling to things we know aren’t good for us when shit hits the fan? Why in moments of intense vulnerability and weakness do we find ourselves complacent to grasp at straws and consume the paltry crumbs carelessly left behind with such fervor? They will never truly satiate us or satisfy even our most basic desires. Why when faced with the prospect of our own mortality are we willing to settle?
This post is for everyone else out there who is currently suffering and staring down the barrel of a gun. Don’t you dare for one minute settle for less than you deserve. Not for anything or anyone. If this is indeed our last hurrah, do we want to go down knowing that we compromised ourselves? That we let our pride and dignity fall by the wayside for a moments pleasure? Or some pathetic attempt at seeking comfort?
My grandmother always used to say it’s better to be alone than in bad company. Remember that there were valid reasons why these people and places disappeared from your lives and being sick doesn’t change any of that, much as we wish it would. Now is not the time to settle, now is the time to revel in the pure and genuine aspects of life. To lean that much harder on those things you know to be true. The things that don’t bend in the breeze. The people who deserve to be in your heart because they’ve earned it. Those who know your worth and never let you forget it for a second. Don’t waste another minute of your time dwelling on things that ultimately aren’t worth a damn. Don’t lose anymore sleep over people who rest comfortably in their beds at night without a thought of you. Trust that there is better, trust that there will be more days in the sun.
If cancer was a job, I would have given my two weeks notice after my first day. Not that it’s a position anyone in their right mind is vying for, but I am just not cut out for cancer.
I am somehow allergic to every single anti-nausea drug on the market. I am allergic to just about every medication you can think of, (including fucking Benadryl!!), thus landing myself in the E.R. more times than I’d care to remember. It’s like anything that can possibly make chemotherapy the slightest bit easier does not sit well with me. And then there’s the damn chemo itself, which seems to affect me 10 times harder than it would an average person. We’re at the point where it’s unclear what is the best course of treatment for me because I’m “so sensitive.” Jesus.
I’ve been told that I’m “sensitive” my whole life, but usually it’s referring to my personality. Maybe it’s because I become emotionally invested or that I care very deeply about things. Maybe it’s because I’m a worrier and I over analyze everything. Maybe it’s because I cry easily and fall in love hard. Maybe it’s because I’m too nice and trusting. Whatever. I never saw being sensitive as a bad thing, but in this case…being sensitive sincerely sucks!
It’d be nice for once not to have a fucking complication or an unexpected side effect while I’m trying to get through this. It’s bad enough I have to suffer through all of this shit again for a second time for whatever reason, but can’t it be somewhat bearable?! It’s times like this I wish I was anything but sensitive. That I could be a stone cold bitch who feels nothing. But alas, I’m just the same old “sensitive” gal I’ve always been and it ain’t doing me any favors right now.
No one really wants to feel pain. Physical pain in itself is pretty bad. To me, the worst part of being in physical pain, by far, is the emotional pain it inevitably brings with it. I never really made the correlation until recently but when you are in constant physical pain, your mind starts to inadvertently go over to the dark side. Sure, you can distract yourself with T.V., books or company but it’s there. Maybe being in physical pain reminds you of the times you were in a terrible emotional state and so the old memories just start to flood back in. Or perhaps they’re always there but when you’re healthy and active, you manage to keep these feelings at bay to get through your day to day life. Unfortunately at this point in time, I am neither healthy nor active so it’s no wonder my emotional pain has seemed to return, uninvited. Sometimes it feels like these upsetting thoughts are just going to take you over, from stupid shit you know you should not be thinking about anymore, like the breakup you still aren’t over from 8 months back, to remembering when your Grandmother, who was your best friend, died suddenly 11 years ago. These were times when you felt heartbroken, helpless, lost and alone. I guess it makes sense to be thinking of these things now because much like cancer, there isn’t a damn thing you can do to change the reality of any of it and while the support is there for me during this painful time, the emotions are the same. People leave you despite your unyielding love for them and they never come back, not from the grave and not from the women they left you for. Cancer comes into your life and there’s no rhyme or reason as to why and try as you’d like, there’s no denying the cold hard truth. All of these things are deep-seated invisible hurts that one must deal with and eventually move on from, but it doesn’t really dull the pain in the meantime. I know all of these events will one day become very distant memories, for now I sit with these grievances and pray that time does indeed heal all wounds.