Blog confessionals are always kind of weird in that they feel personal because I’m the only one here at my desk as I write it and then the minute I press send I know it’ll hit the interwebs and at any point, someone can google it and have a look inside my brain. Which is I guess where we are as a society-public shaming and declarations and emoticons to represent what we’re feeling at every single second. But this is the space in which I find myself being the most honest I can be.
Today is my technical 9 year remission anniversary. I have four milestones per year that I keep in mind-this one (when I finished radiation), my diagnosis anniversary which is in early September, my birthday and then my last chemo (early December). This one has always been the weirdest one for me because it was a big deal to decide to do radiation or not. One doctor said YES, one doctor said NO and one was like, hey it’s up to you. Cool, leave the girl who can’t even decide if she wants to paint her nails pink or red AND THAT SHIT COMES OFF, to make a decision like that. The radiation was the biggest gamble, with the most long reaching effects, of my treatment. It probably is why I’m still healthy but it has caused some other side effects that I’m not a fan of. So it looks like indecisive me made a good decision. I can celebrate my diagnosis anniversary because I like to look at that day as the one when my entire world changed-and then didn’t so much. It’ll be a decade in September and I plan on celebrating the hell out of that month. I can celebrate the end of chemo because that meant eventually my hair would grow back, and I’m a vain bitch, clearly, and also that the puffiness from the steroids would start to go away. My birthday because, well, it’s my birthday! But this one. This one has always been sticky for me.
But I keep those reminders, those milestones for very serious reasons. While most of the time I’m a pretty positive person, right around now I tend to become very-not so much. It’s kind of when the blackest thoughts a person can think start to surface and instead of being YAY I’m alive! I’m, what am I doing here? What have I done? Did I deserve that second chance? This is the part of the confessional. The part where I have to admit what I’m not proud of, what I’m actually pretty ashamed of. I fought really hard to be here, really hard. And yet, like a dick, I’m questioning the entirety of the Universe, doubting myself and wasting the very very precious gift I’ve been given. That’s the ugliest part. People going through real issues and problems and I’m bitching about whether or not I belong here. It’s a toxic thought process, and it doesn’t matter that I know that, because I still feel that way. Year after year. Only around now though.
Why am I telling you all of this? Good question. Look, you can go through the worst of what life has to offer and be thankful for all the things you have and still find times of doubt. For me, I wonder, what have I accomplished with this second chance? And when I think I haven’t gotten married, have kids, bought a house, saved a life, blah blah blah, then I’m like, ahhh what a waste you are! Dude, whose standard is that? It’s certainly not mine. I’m the one who tells her friends and family constantly to “redefine success” and I mean that. That the very lives you touch each and every day with a smile or a gesture or a kind word, matter. That it’s the little things, not the grand things. That I’ve created a family of friends who depend on me, and who love me. I have a beautiful life and it’s only through these ugly feelings do I tinge that with toxicity. It’s been nine years. Ups, downs, births, deaths, weddings, divorces, layoffs, new jobs, new beginnings and certainly endings. It’s at that time when it’s no longer the disease that is the problem, it’s the crutch on which I lean when I can’t admit that while I haven’t accomplished EVERYTHING I’d wanted to it’s certainly no mediocre task to be here now. “You don’t know what I’ve been through!” becomes meaningless as we get older, because hey everyone’s got something. It shapes us but it should not define us. We get to define us.
That’s what this year meant to me. As I looked back, I see how much I’ve changed (mostly for the better). I’m not as angry with the world. Oh god, was I angry for a while. I have friends who want to CELEBRATE with me, every minor accomplishment, because we CELEBRATE each other everyday. It’s remarkable really. Minus a few scares in the past few months (for some reason technology hasn’t gotten much better in nearly a decade), I’m healthy. I have a roof over my head, a good job, money to finance my makeup and YA book addiction and a great head of hair. I needed to write this post to sort through some things, particularly how well I handle serious shit and how terribly I handle mundane, self-inflicted nonsense.
So fuck cancer. Screw the baggage and the self doubt. This day I’m taking back as one that reminds me that I attack life-I don’t let it attack me. And that I’ve created a life that is full of all the good things that the world has to offer-including expensive whiskey. That’s how you know you’ve made it-good friends, jeans that make your butt look good and quality whiskey.