Two Saturdays in a row where the first thing I have gotten to do is sit down and write. This is one of my happy places.
The title of this post is unique, because this week was special for me.
In honor of this date and this time (September of last year I was diagnosed), I decided to be more intentional, seek truth, rest, read, listen and humbly commit to prayer. While these intentions may seem minimal, typical or cliche… for me they are none of these things. I am aware of how difficult this month is. Just the word September gives me goosebumps. Just the mention of the phone call I received that day fills my eyes with tears. I decided it would be best if I allow myself the time to grieve, to reflect, and to most of all surrender over my life.
Why then you may ask would my title this week be a celebration? For the past two years I have been in counseling. I know for some of you counseling is a standard practice for you and for others you hold strong opinions about those that attend counseling, perhaps you had a negative experience or you went yet were unable to find the help you desired. For me counseling has been monumental. It has given me a space to explore, to share and grow. I tell anyone when they ask about it, that it is the hardest but the very best work I have ever done. In conjunction with counseling I have made a decision to seek additional assistance to help me heal. So this week I met with a psychiatrist.
I mention this boldly and admit this only because I have for so long made assumptions about those that seek medical assistance. I was determined to not be one of those people. I allowed my assumptions about what that meeting would be like to keep me from going in the first place. I now can see that the relief, the freedom, and the peace I gained in taking this step, that it was something I should have been doing a long time ago. More than the fear about meeting a stranger for the first time and sharing my story, I was most afraid to admit that I was not doing so well. So these words while hard to write are my surrender.
When I met with the hospital social worker months ago she advised me that the next year is often harder than the year of cancer. She showed me a lovely presentation that discussed common side effects, grief, depression, anxiety, inability to show up day to day, the list goes on… I remember viewing the presentation and thinking, yep, I got it. I will be ready when that hits. What I failed to realize in that moment was that the list of side affects had already taken up root in me and they were slowly revealing themselves over time.
Whether one wants to hear it or not, I am on a long journey of healing that is at times unbearable. The weight of my cancer story and the daunting future ahead overwhelms me to the point of paralyzation. I am overwhelmed in the reality that I may very well be in permanent menopause. Overwhelmed by what it means to have been diagnosed with cancer at 26. I am overwhelmed when it comes to thinking about interacting with others my age. I find myself at times unable to relate when someone complains of a broken down car or that they were late for a dentist appointment. I find myself sometimes so far removed from their reality that it seems incredibly overwhelming to try and find my place. The thought of cancer returning is the big elephant in the room that everyone wants to know. Are you in remission? Are you still battling? The answer I often want to give. No I am not, but at times I wish I was.
I have learned in the last couple months of voicing this reality that this is a very common outlook survivors have. The thought of doing life as a survivor is often so overwhelming that the cancer journey seems easier. It was structured, it was goal oriented, I was focused, I was doing self care the best way I know how and now, I am told to go and live. To go and do. That is overwhelming.
Maybe you do not understand but imagine for a second… and if you cannot I only ask you to commit to praying for me.
So many of you have been and I am so grateful for that. I am excited about the place the Lord has me in. I am excited about the very desire I have to surrender over so many things I have been holding on to.
The very first one, “It is ok, to not be ok”.
I hope this finds you well on your Saturday and my words are an encouragement to you. I am off to a wedding in the mountains. Have a great Saturday!
(Also got my second hair cut since chemo yesterday… silver lining folks)