Strength — not always best as people think — resembled closer to subterfuge. I felt like a liar. I did not feel in the least bit strong. And I wanted to snuggle under a cozy security blanket, my husband’s arms or tend to my frailty nuzzling with my baby.
I re-examined my beliefs that had a choke hold on my attitude to progress up the steps of that age-old hierarchy of life. Felt like such bullcrap.
All a woman’s feelings throughout all breast cancer treatment are valid. Even as I endured pain, meanwhile other women were (are) coping with seemingly worse rigors of breast cancer treatment. To be frank, my first segments I felt somewhat guilty that I had only one breast removed and no radiation, no chemo. On my routine wellness visit late summer, when I mentioned this to Dr. Robine, she was incredulous. “How? Why is yours only? So insignificant?”
I stammered, “right! I’m not.” Our conversation stuck to my ribs, and inspired me to write this chapter.
A woman after a mastectomy must not undermine her own pain or belittle any progress. But believe in her own capacity to get back up. And kick ass. You have only one life. It deserves your complete attention to heal, then comes your circle.
I was failing at my own mantra after so many trials over the years: ya don’t try, ya just do it. So in order to heed my doctor’s words, I had go way beyond just healing from surgery. I had to reconcile my treatment was as much of a bitch as if I’d had a bilateral and chemo and radiation, plus all assundry of miserable possible mishaps and bullcrap botched surgeries that do happen in women’s search for the cure. Unbelievable nonetheless, my surgeries have gone smooth and without a hitch — I had taken my recovery for granted and got mud on my face. Suffering didn’t matter, Jesus did that for me.
There was no witty end that was worth the pain. I’m special only for God. Of course my husband mattered but I learned long before my diving into a 2nd marriage, that I’m not on this Earth to please anyone but God. The Almighty. My husband supports me emotionally and monetarily; while God supports my spirit and my life.
Hadn’t I learned anything?? I could not believe after all my years of rebuilding my self-esteem, and self-education to be a good part of society after my disastrous first marriage, I had come to believe that that was at the root of anything I’d accomplished. I fell on my ass just like that in Robine’s office. I chewed myself all the way down the elevator, booted myself for being so fucking fake if I didn’t really believe I deserved to heal and be happy.
This would take some real digging. I could finally see some of Adrian’s anguish — and the frustration because I had always strove to be so strong. Now I admitted wrongs that needed to heal. Even though she said she hated me right now, this was not a toddler temper tantrum — my daughter’s anger had merit, and I knew it was fear talking as well.
My daughter deserved to see Mum’s love to fight for her anguish as well; she too has tried to be too strong. And I deserved to feel her comfort to help heal for the long haul. The route had taken too many turns into the Haunted Forest — no Jon Snow to save us. I said I regret building that Wall — time to smash it down.
By now, my recovery was not so different than women who’ve had the crap beat outta them, struggling after rape, addiction, or from abuse. Too many women have long since buried those horrible memories and become the ‘survivor’ same as me. Likewise, we know our baggage doesn’t go away so easily. But we must get over it.
We all deserve to feel special, to heal with respect and understanding. We must rebuild from the inside to cope with what’s outside. Cliche’ as it sounds, it’s life altering to really see the attitude, not to have a damn ‘tude. Pushing for truth made me such a psycho, as the Psycho: Mumbo Jumbo chapters pointed out. No woman compares notes to judge. No adversity is less qualifying of sympathy or empathy.
So many mothers can see trouble coming, brewing like a covered stew about to boil over.
Our experience and feelings don’t matter in our son’s and daughter’s turmoil. But months into my reconstruction, after much him-an’hawing, finally the to-hell-with-it moment hit me. I couldn’t take it no mo — we had been texting, exchanging pics since late spring. not seriously committing, having her own demons to battle. We sat in my jeep after her counsel session and had that exact discussion. We cried and gently applied Lanacane to our wounds vowing to not ‘go there’ again. No sense to stir up old shit.
No criticism allowed. I wasn’t self-conscious by this time in my life; I’d earned my stand in the world, so I decided breast cancer recon was just a big bunch of logs in the river, I wouldn’t drown. The Lord was my life-preserver. I’m not graceful; I trip over my own shadow, but I’m gracefully coping. I resumed living with most of my old familiar vigor.