Saturday, December 31, 2016

To Just Be

"Allowing yourself frailty is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself."
                                                                                                   - From the Book Undone

I can't seem to break the habit of journaling in real notebooks. It just doesn't seem as cozy to curl up in a chair by the fire with my computer. I remember years ago when I was much more diligent with this blog, I had the most adorable green laptop. Alas it is no longer, and now I have a plain black one that doesn't seem to bring me nearly the same amount of joy as I type. Perhaps, that is the root of my problem and not the need for ink and paper by the fireside. Anyway, here is a transcription of my latest thoughts or at least some very recent ones.

What will my life look like moving forward? I don't know. I am trying to have it all figured out now and that is not possible.

After a few weeks of kicking and screaming, in my head, I am finally getting used to the rhythm of rest. Sometimes, I feel guilty about it. I think that is when I am grateful for the pain. The pain reminds me that it is okay to sit and live quietly. As much as I hate the pain, it is for this reason that I am always relieved when it shows up again.

Normally when I get too comfortable with the quiet, I tell myself that I am dangerously teetering on giving up, becoming lazy or quitting life. Usually, this is all it takes to scare myself into picking up my burdens and responsibilities and continuing on no matter how uncomfortable or tiring they may be. But, now I find myself thinking very differently. I wonder if I am so necessary and valuable that the world will crumble if I stop. I have faced death or at least the possibility of it. What will happen to my family, friends and world? Will they die too? No, they will go on living and functioning without me.

I am no one's savior. I am just a woman that has never given herself permission to rest more than a week or two...ever. One that also has a warped sense of what she has brought to the table. The world can and will go on without me.

Today, I give myself permission to rest rest as long as I need it physically and emotionally. Just because I can now do almost everything (albeit at a slower pace) that I once did before my surgery, doesn't mean that I have to. I am checking out for as long as I see fit, maybe for good. Although my contribution to the world might be helpful, it is not essential. I have worked myself into a frenzy for years under the false narrative that I am essential that if I don't deliver others will fall apart. I have driven myself into a permanent state of anxiety and perfection for something that isn't even real.

I am just an ordinary person that has an ordinary life to live. Imagine the peace I can have if I choose to live it for the right reasons, to finally just be. All of my striving and pushing goes with me when I die. All I've done begins to fade as those still living make their own choices and decisions sans me. To only do what I should do, not what I can do, might be the beginning of a beautiful way of finishing this life.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A New Normal

I have always done my clearest thinking while writing. My thoughts seem to untangle themselves as they take shape on the page. If I choose to leave them in my head, they just seem to swirl around causing chaos and confusion. I suppose that they would sort themselves out just as well if I were to speak them aloud. No one has ever accused me of not being able to express myself verbally. But, I live a quiet life brought about by years of transient living and the only people that seem to cross my path on a daily basis are my husband and teenage boys. I have learned over the years that anything verbally communicated to them must be done in a single sentence and, optimally, one that only involves a simple subject and verb. So, that brings me back to writing. I have not maintained this blog very well.This is partly because I have embraced chaos and confusion the last few years and just let insanity grow in my head. But, mostly, it is due to the fact that what I needed to write the last few years was so personal that sending it out into the abyss of this blog was more than I was willing to share, even with the Russians. Instead, I filled up several journals with a copious amount of complex questions accompanied by an occasional answer.

I find myself facing one of my most personal crises to date. But, instead of beginning another tastefully bound notebook, I find myself, once again, drawn to the abyss. My thoughts and feelings need somewhere to go besides the basket next to my couch. They need room to breathe, to work themselves out and to hopefully return to me with some much needed clarity. I don't know how they will come out or in what order they will present themselves, but I do know that they will show up when it is their time to be released.

About a month ago, I sent out an email entitled "My Life at the Moment" to a select group of friends around the country. They had nothing in common with one another other than the fact that at some point in the last 30 years they had played the important role of friendship in my life. I was facing a scary and uncertain future and I needed to know that I wasn't alone. I needed to know that someone knew I had been diagnosed with breast cancer a few months before and that I was about to have a terrifying surgery to remove not only the cancer but my right breast. I just needed to know I wasn't alone. That was my only motive. I knew that some of them would encourage me and others would pray; I also knew that some wouldn't respond at all. Looking back, it was never about the responses. Actually, what I really wanted to do was scream into the universe my anger, fear and frustration, but being a semi reasonable adult that wasn't an option, so a group email was the next best thing. This email loop became a way for me to check in with myself weekly, to let me know where I stood in this process. Gradually, the responses became less and less. My updates had run their course. I had gone through the surgery and survived. I was healing at a normal and expected rate. I was given a less than desirable but typical post surgery treatment plan. My updates were becoming nothing more than one more email to have to 'check' in already out of control inboxes. I completely understood; it was never really about them anyway. It was just a way to make sense of it all. I have put the email loop to rest. But, find that I still need to send updates out to myself to let me know that I'm still here. I still need answers to all the questions and fears that haunt me daily. My hope is that with each post God will begin to provide the clarity needed to move into a new and unexpected normal.