Since my diagnosis for breast cancer, and subsequent surgery and treatment, I have learned how to an extent your life becomes an exercise in letting go.
That dawned on me the other day.
Part of it comes with the acceptance that one way or the other you have become marked with a disease all women fear. You have to just let go so you can survive and learn to deal with all that breast cancer entails.
Then you let go of other things including if you are wise any societal pre-conceived notions of beauty. An example of that is not looking at my left breast as damaged. Yes, it has a slightly different form then it did a year ago, but I see in it, the beauty of my survival. For all those who were trying to help by telling me about this plastic surgeon and that plastic surgeon, I thank you, but no thank you.
You also let go of people through this process. You don’t want to, but it happens. Some people aren’t your choice and it hurts. First there were the people who wanted my cancer to be all about them. I let them go. No muss, no fuss, I simply evaporated. Then there were the people who wanted to be depressed for me. I let them go in the short term, because I did not want any negativity getting in the way of my recovery. Those letting gos may have been a wee bit awkward depending upon the situation, but they did not hurt.
One letting go that hurt has to do with a woman I used to work for ten years with whom I thought was my friend. I was an ear and a shoulder throughout her divorce and various and assorted other trials and tribulations, but she became one of those people who once you are out of sight, you were out of mind. I have remarked before that I had this friend and when I told them I had breast cancer, it was like I told them I had a hang nail. Over a year later, I have never heard from her again. And I did not ask her to do anything. Apparently breast cancer is catching and I did not know it. So I have let that friendship go. I wish her well, but the way she was at a time when I needed my friends, hurt. So it’s done.
Now as my life has changed yet again, and my sweet man and I have begun a home together as our life moves forward together, I am finding myself facing that letting go thing again. When I first moved and a few weeks prior to my move there was a period where I kind of went to ground. I had to. I had to sort, purge, donate, pack. I had to decide what went to storage, and what came with me. Address changes all across the board, plus juggling all my post-surgery and post-radiation appointments. Ultrasounds, mammograms, breast MRI, appointments, and packing to move and moving. Yes, I went underground.
Now as I settle in more and more every day, I am starting to surface again. Most of my friends understand this, but some don’t. And there are some people I am learning are doing the out of sight out of mind thing with me now that I moved. But I expected that.
There is one more letting go that I think is happening. This is the one that makes me sad, but it is beyond my control. It is the one sister I stayed connected to after the ex-factor left. She is the only one of his siblings worth a damn, but I guess I did not have the time to put into our relationship once I started to pack and move. We had no argument, but I must have missed a cue about something. Or it has nothing to do with me. I simply do not know.
She has stopped talking to me, and cut all communication. I don’t know really why, we haven’t spoken about it, maybe she has reconnected with my ex, her brother, and others of her family. If she has done that, family is important, and that is o.k. This is actually someone I don’t want to let go of, but maybe it is just going to happen anyway. My life is different, and maybe that is part of it. I don’t know. I wish her well, whatever she decides. I would never shut the door on this person as she was and is important, but I can’t read minds, either.
Life is funny though, and I am discovering also a series of circles. We had dinner with a friend from high school last evening. He was someone who was very close to my sweet man in high school, and as nice as it was for all of us to be together, it was even nicer to see the two of them reconnecting as adults. It was just one of those things when they went their own separate ways. And now life, being what it is, the circle has come around once more. The older I get the more I am amazed that the bonds we formed way back when in high school and earlier remain the strongest. Maybe it’s the commonality.
All in all, it’s interesting seeing the next chapter of my life unfold. I am enjoying it thus far, although I will admit this picking up parenting stuff is hard some days, awesome all days.
And here is I am into year two, counting down the days to cancer free year two. And I am sending out lots of resumes… and planting my garden…and cooking….and taking lots of photos….drinking my matcha….meeting new people.
I guess when you learn to let go, you do open yourself up to possibilities. I have a follow-up with my oncologist in a couple of weeks. I want to talk about the BRCA test and see if my insurance will pay for it. I am also going to talk about the Tamoxifen and find out how I can avoid being substituted between generics without my permission.
And now a final word. Maybe it is just me, except I don’t think so. I think it is something all of us BC gals feel, but we above all others are hyper sensitive to tales of other people falling ill with cancer. You see, we’ve been marked. So we can all be as positive as possible, but sometimes those stories of others are hard to hear. It is not that we don’t want to know when someone is sick, but we hear these bits of news with slightly different ears.
I also try not to be annoyed when someone who has not had breast cancer and is not a medical professional tells me or my sweet man about risk factors with Tamoxifen, the side effects, and fun facts about breast cancer. But….Hello? We are living it. Me directly, he as my life partner.
Life rolls forward. Happy Saturday, all.
Ahhh, yes–the letting go. Tricky business. I’m still struggling, a year and a half later, with embracing my body post-reconstruction. Not sure I’ll ever get there. Been dealing with letting go of the people who aren’t supportive, too. It’s no fun, but it’s the right move. Love the pics from your garden!
Life rolls forward, whether or not we let go – so yes, I think this is an excellent concept worth aspiring toward. Let go of the fear. Let go of ITS control. There are times I have this mastered, and other times when it all comes rushing back. But practise makes perfect, I’m hoping!