I always said my blog would be mostly about entertaining and sometimes purely from the heart. This is one of those.
From time to time, I ask myself why I blog, and I keep coming up with the same answer, I have no bloody idea! My friends would argue that I am one of the most private people they know, yet here I am not only opening up my house, friends and family (and so it seems nobody is off-limits), but I am also sharing personal things about myself. Nobody could be more surprised about this than I.
In part, you feel a sense of freedom writing, a little liberated by sharing your words. Paper provides you with the breathing space to think, and it leaves you feeling lighter somehow. So indeed, that is reason enough for now?
My sister sets the challenge |my sister phoned me (and I am fast thinking I might need to retitle my blog… “a day in the life of my sister and me” and she told me how a friend of hers had just returned from a yoga class, and the teacher gave them one word. I could hear where this was heading, and I didn’t like it. She would occupy some of my refreshed headspaces to undertake some challenges. She must have listened to my sigh because she gently pushed on regardless and added that the word was “attachment”. In my head, I am thinking, so the challenge begins!
I make my way from the bedroom, down the stairs, and headed towards the kettle for my second cup of tea for the morning while emptying the dryer and feeding the goldfish. We are extraordinary multi-taskers, we women! As I make the walk (holding my mobile phone in my left hand and knowing that my steps are being recorded at the same time, because seriously, who else would walk around the house with their mobile phone in their hand), I picture the attachment as many things; clothing, MAC lipsticks, shoes, crockery, cheeseboards and I am starting to think that these are addictions not “attachments”, and I like the challenge even less now. I put my mind to my husband and my son, and the thoughts start to ramble and fill my otherwise quiet space, and I again realise these are not attachments but commitments.
I am multi-tasking my demanding and meaningful list of things to do. I also fill my arms with our over-flowing medicine chest because I remember telling myself yesterday that today was the day I needed to make good here. Unlike my spice drawer, which is filled with love and organisation, our medicine chest has been starting to resemble my son’s bedroom (before he left home). It is beginning to look a little like Niagara Falls, same cascading attributes just missing the abundance of beauty. But hey, my mother told me my mind was filled with imagination, so I am confident that I can turn this exercise into something exciting (feeling my creativity fast depleting as I hold that thought).
Finding my attachment | I sit myself down with my cup of tea and our medicine chest, and in this lovely, almost mindful state, I start to again think about attachment. I am still struggling to see its point, further frustrated that my sister has filled my otherwise restful mind.
I reach where the bulk of the medicines have banked up and start to discard them. One by one, I start throwing out Endone, Tramadol, Targin, MC Contin, Maxolon, Kytril, Glycerol Suppositories, Coloxy, Dexathasone, Naproxen, Ural, Lorazepam, White soft paraffin, Jelonet and the list just kept rolling out like a roll of toilet paper on a bad day. Before me, I saw a group of medications that I did not even know existed before a breast cancer diagnosis.
As I look at these medications, I feel a certain sadness come over me, weird. It reminded me of where I was just less than two years ago. This emotion is closely followed by some strange sympathy I extend to myself (which I never afforded until this truly reflective moment because I always believed I needed to stay strong throughout treatment). As I sat there thinking, I started to accept that this was why I have been continuing to struggle somewhat with my health and why I have been getting so frustrated with myself (and if I am, to be honest, sometimes truly disappointed) that I don’t seem to be able to find my way back to that same person I was “before BC”.
I look at all those tablets, and I remember how my body has been to hell and back and that I deserve to be kind to myself, not disappointed.
I sit with the thought that it is OK not to be perfect, not to be able to do maybe everything I did before, and if I find myself visiting my Doctor more times than I do my hairdresser, so be it!
So why did I hold onto those medications for all this time? A list that I never knew existed before BC, which I never needed to know existed. I haven’t needed them now for almost two years, so why? Then, I see my “attachment” and why I have been holding onto them…just in case.
Bugger the just in case!!! Out the door went my attachment!!!
If I dig a little deeper, I might find that my writing has helped my recovery. Anxiety creeps into your head in the middle of the night, disguised as a friend, and before you know it, this other person has settled into your thoughts and your behaviour uninvited and unwanted.
I know that some of you who read my blog have also been affected by a breast cancer diagnosis and are, like me, still in treatment in one way or another. If not breast cancer, then it is something else. Let’s be honest, a diagnosis pulls us up short, and it changes us. In many ways, the changes are good and, in some ways, just not always in our control. I prefer to focus on the good and the sometimes great, yet it does not stop those times of incredible frustration and disappointment trying to wrestle for a spot.
This is why I blog. It is my therapy. Saying things aloud means that they no longer clog your otherwise poor recovering brain, which has already gone to war for you and keeps on fighting. This is why we need our girlfriends to keep the talk happening.
Having found my attachment, I give myself a little more time to reflect, and I see that I have been mourning an earlier version of me, a more vibrant, energetic and healthier me. I ran a business; how demanding can that get. Maybe these feelings start to creep in when we begin to create space. Any diagnosis will do this, some more serious than others and some with unspeakable outcomes. Whatever the diagnosis, it is natural for us and those around us.
And yet, I am now other things that I wasn’t before. I am more compassionate, patient, understanding, a better listener, and more caring, and finally, I am more honest about my feelings. What blessings! My diagnosis taught me many things, as I am sure it has you.
I am on tamoxifen, which comes with its own set of side effects, my legs don’t work like they used to, and I take pain killers to dull the nerve pain, etc. Recently I found myself watching a girlfriend, a healthier version of me, stand up from the table, and her legs didn’t work. She told me it was age. I started to think that maybe I am attributing too many of these changes to treatment rather than just accepting them as part of life and getting on with it.
It is so easy to give things labels. Once they have a label, they become an attachment. My days of heavy treatment and a truckload of drugs were back then, and this is now. Whatever challenges we have going forward is life, so there is little point in staying stuck. This is a new phase and can be a significant phase if only we start to be in the moment. We need to embrace our lives the best way we can and enjoy them.
My spiritual friend recently told me that this is the path we are all on, an unfolding journey that every soul finds themself on, called life. When we are starting to move from singular beings toward a beautiful collective space.
A thought | Be kind to yourself and keep talking with your girlfriends (coffee, cake, and chocolate are just fine with me). Girlfriends are better than any medicine.
Love to all our sisters. 💋