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.
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.
In preparation of my impending hair loss, I decided to chop and dye my all-too-new curly mane into a short pixie. Then, after I got released from the hospital for heart palpitations due to my enemy, aka prolonged QT syndrome (bastard!), I thought why not have some fun with it before it ends up on the floor, (and well, let’s face it…everywhere else you can imagine!). I remember desperately wanting to bleach and colour my hair in junior high school, (I was heavy in the grunge phase and well, it looked cool as sh*t in the 90’s! lol). My parents would not let me use the bleach, but I did put some punky colour in my hair anyway, it just didn’t quite show up in my naturally dark hair, much to my disappointment. This was an act of rebellion and an homage to my 13-year-old self. The girl who oh-so-desperately wanted to go to Woodstock ’94 to see all of her favorite bands but ended up at summer camp instead, (ugh!). The girl who wore Doc Marten’s on a daily basis and her father’s old flannel shirts from the 70’s, (cause that is definitely the last time he wore plaid!). The girl with so much potential with a bright future ahead of her. 20 years later, I’d like to think I can be that girl again…just a little older and wiser.
I made a point today of putting away all of my many hair products and styling stuff. It’s best to get that out of the way now before it starts falling out and feels more depressing. I know, I know for a fact that it grows back. I have witnessed it first hand. That much like it says on every list of possible side effects I encounter, it is a temporary hair loss. But you know what? It still really sucks. Women value their hair, it makes them feel feminine and sexy. I have been known for my hair for as long as I can remember. People are constantly complementing me on it. That long, thick, wavy, Gisele Bundchen-esque crown of glory that I loved and prided myself in pre-cancer. My hair had become my thing. A significant part of my identity. Something I was known for. You never imagine that one day you will be utterly bald, as a woman. It was really hard to look into a mirror without crying, without feeling ugly…like I had lost my essence. Thinking that I looked sick. Someone close to me recently told me that my hair isn’t who I am and whether I am bald or not, I am still exactly who I am and that I would always be beautiful (gotta appreciate that ending!). That really helped to remind me that I am still me, no matter what I may look like. I still have the same hopes and dreams, the same sense of humor and tastes, the same feelings in my heart and mind. The same love for my family and friends, (and let’s not forget all the animals). I have to remind myself constantly that I am more than just a body, more than just hair. I am a soul, and my soul cannot and will not be altered by this disease. Cancer is not my life. Though when I am bald, standing naked in the mirror looking at my reflection , it can be pretty tough to recall. At the end of the day though, despite appearances and the situation, it’s always still just me.