The other day, the gal in the grocery store asked me how I was. It was an innocuous question really, something we ask one another every day without a thought. Then she followed it up with, “How are you feeling?” I knew from the look in her eyes exactly what she was asking me, and without a thought I said, “It’s like it never happened.”
Even I was surprised by that answer. Is that really true? All my inner voices, the ones at the ready to criticize, applaud, caution or encourage, were on the verge of crying, “foul!” So, I had no choice but to look at it. Why had I chosen those words so cavalierly?
A lot goes into cancer treatment. Mine was breast cancer, yours (or someone you know) may be something else. Regardless, as I’ve mentioned throughout the years I’ve been writing this blog, the physical treatment is only one component of recovery. It is the mental and emotional healing that is critical to popping out the other side with some semblance of wholeness. So here goes, my attempt at why I say, it’s like it never happened.
I’m happy. Nothing beats being happy. I laugh a lot. Nothing beats laughing. Real laughter, the kind that rolls out effortlessly and won’t stop. Where your belly aches from it, but you don’t care. Good, hearty laughter, the kind that if we all did it at the same time we could shake the earth off its axis. (I have my best friend, Heather, to thank for this.)
I feel whole. I may not have breasts, but I don’t notice, and since I don’t notice it, no one else does. I’ve long felt that it is the energy we put into something that draws attention to it. If I was concerned about my now less-than-buxom physique, others would pick up on it and start to look, maybe not even at my chest, but at me, wondering what the energy was all about. I would assume they were looking at my breasts, or lack thereof. Do you see where I’m going with this? By being self-conscious, we create the attention and attract what we are most concerned about. I say, “Devil may care!” Revel in the beauty that is your body. It houses you and lets you experience the world in a myriad of ways – sight, smell, taste, sound, touch. It’s going to get a little banged up and worn carting you through all your adventures. Revel in the things your body has let you experience!
I don’t sweat the small stuff. Or even the medium stuff. It’s not healthy. All that negative energy over what? Let’s face it, most of the things we get all torqued up about are silly. There’s a dish in the sink, there’s a crumb on the floor, the person ahead of me on the road is driving too slowly, someone passed me going too fast, a child is crying in the store, the group at the table next to mine is talking too loudly, and on and on and on. They are not life threatening, but we escalate them to blood-boiling irritations so that the next inconsequential thing that comes along, like your spouse leaves a sock on the floor, and whammo! The volcano blows. I no longer sweat the small stuff. I’ve learned that all that anger and stress over the little stuff is only hurting me.
I’m healthy. Sure, I have the usual aches and pains that a 56-year-old body has, which may or may not be due to the anastrazole, but I’m healthy. I’m physically active, mentally alert and still a handful. No complaints here.
What has changed is my quality of life. I have finally learned to feel comfortable in my own skin. My life is richer and fuller than ever before. I spend more time enriching myself and less time toiling. I have a powerful creative streak that has spent a lot of time on a back burner and is now front and center. Writing, painting, photography, beading, … you name it, I’m dabbling. There is something enormously fulfilling about expressing oneself through art.
So there you have it. It happened. Whether it’s like it never happened or not, well, that’s a whole lot of minutia. I’d rather paint.