I've been absent from social media, not that you'd notice (thanks Instagram for showing like 4 people my posts...). 2nd cancer diagnosis in a year and a half, 3rd surgery in the same amount of time. This was a much easier surgery and so I expected to be done and back to normal in no more than 2 weeks. And it was an easier surgery. But recovery provided some unexpected complications.
Last year, when I got my first diagnosis, I was in the process of trying to get divorced, and trying to sell my house, and trying to stabilize 3 traumatized kids, and trying to manage a myriad of complications, financial and otherwise, that just kept pummeling me. So when I had my double mastectomy last June, as soon as I returned home from the hospital I went right into having to mop my floors twice a day to get my house sold and get right back to work. There was, literally, no time to grieve. No time to heal. There was just time to move on to what needed to be done next. It was an absolute whirlwind of single parenting, managing seemingly never-ending crises, working, getting rid of everything I owned and moving. When the house sold, and the year 2018 closed, I was all too ready to put this whole thing behind me and barrel forward towards my new life.
When I saw my newest incision a few weeks ago, I expected that it would be like nothing. Much easier surgery, less destruction, faster recovery. This would be cake. But, unexpectedly, I unwrapped my bandages and was instantly brought back... right back to that moment, last year, when the doctors unwrapped me and I saw, for the first time, what they'd done to me. Ripped open, torn apart, weird shit inserted into me and then sewn back up like a doll. The stitching. I was like Frankenstein. There were tubes running in and out of me and it was… bizarre. It really messed with my sense of reality... my sense of being human. The bruising… it was all so barbaric… and a wail escaped me that was so intense and so guttural that the surgeon and nurses just looked at each other, quickly finished redressing my wounds and left the room. They left me to come to terms with what my new normal was. I cried uncontrollably for a bit... and then did what I do best; told myself to get my shit together because there was no time for sadness. There was only time to get over it and move on to what needed to be done next.
Standing in my bathroom this year, I stared at the newest incision. Sort of shocked at how large it was. But again, mostly thrown off by the doll like stitching. It was surreal. I calmly tended to what needed to be tended to, feeling a bit deflated to have yet another scar, but rewrapped myself up; proud of myself that I didn’t have such an intense reaction this time.
But as I left the bathroom, as soon as I crossed the threshold, my knees gave out and I fell to the ground and cried. And then cried for weeks straight. I cried myself to sleep. Cried in my dreams. Cried upon waking. It came in great waves, and I let it just take me down each time. And I retreated. I didn't answer phone calls, I didn't answer texts but to make sure people knew I was still alive. The pain of my reality hit me, full-on, all at once. And not just from the cancer, from all of the trauma and madness that has been my life. It's been a full on assault. My marriage, the system, my ex, my health... it has been one shit show after another, and though I've been able to find clarity and gratitude and laugh my way through it all, there was definitely something that I was missing. A major piece that could well be the reason why my cancer returned.
After weeks of crying, weeks of unwrapping the bandage, looking at the stitching overlapping old scars with new, tending to it, and crying some more, this weird thing happened. Instead of looking at myself in the mirror, crying and being like “Girl... get your shit together”... I looked at myself, for the first time in my entire life, and was like... “Girl... I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry for what your life has been. I'm so sorry it's all been so hard. Fuck girl... I'm just so sorry.”
And like... I meant it. For the first time in my life, I was able to see my life... all of it… and be like… damn girl… you got yourself a shitty hand, and it wasn’t your fault. And you’re doing your best. Instead of the usual “It wasn’t that bad. Get over it.”
So once again... thank you cancer. Thank you for stripping me of my ego enough to allow me to extend true love and compassion to the one person who had yet been the recipient. Thank you for getting me on the path, last year, of going through the motions of self love, so that when the time was right… I’d actually be able to FEEL it.
Y’all, this shit is life changing. And so many of you have reached out to me privately and shared your own struggles and I know how hard it is to just go through the motions. Five Nice Things is one of the hardest things for so many and I can’t say enough how much I feel like it has been the catalyst for so much good in my life; including this. This wasn’t an epiphany that hit out of nowhere. This was something that happened BECAUSE of the year and a half of just going through the motions; of saying nice things about myself even when I didn’t believe what I was saying. Of forcing myself to meditate every day even when I felt like I didn’t have time, or I was doing it wrong and just shouldn’t bother. Of putting myself first even when I didn’t really feel I deserved it. It is cumulative. And if you’re starting at a serious deficit, it takes time.
It often feels false, stupid, silly even, and definitely like it doesn’t make a difference. There have been quite a few “why the fuck am I doing all this just to have cancer AGAIN?!” moments. It feels like lying to yourself. But the truth of the matter is that all those nasty things you say to yourself? That it was all your fault. That you should have known better. That you aren’t worthy. That you shouldn’t. Or that you can’t. THOSE are lies. You just believe them because you’ve said them to yourself for so long. I know it’s hard… but when self love is a HABIT, it does become real. A year and a half of dedicated practice, a year and a half of staring at that mud and telling that mud that it was beautiful and worthy and had the potential for something amazing, and I was finally able to release into it. And even though it’s still mud (mixed with shit)… instead of just forcing myself to see the bloom, I can FEEL the bloom on the horizon. I KNOW it’s coming.
So keep at it. Make it habit. And if you get stuck, message me.
No mud, no lotus. Love the fucking mud.