i have been trying to sit down and write for weeks now. it’s only been three weeks since i last hit publish but my brain keeps telling me that it has been much longer than that. my life has been pretty jam packed lately. and with quite the intention. if things aren’t busy, i tend to wither back into sadness. not by choice, just kind of by nature. stillness and quiet often remind me of the days not too long ago, battling cancer from my childhood bedroom. ugly days. pain filled days. and honestly, those moments are pretty close to the surface still. despite the time that has spanned since then. remission came quietly and even the days of survivorship have had both good moments and tough ones. trauma lays just beneath the surface. it’s palpable most days. one wrong turn and i find myself in a full sob in my bed at one o’clock in the afternoon. and it’s not to fault anyone, honestly. so i wrote most of this blog out loud in my car driving back from raleigh last weekend. sometimes, emotions come from absolutely nowhere. and it spirals me into a place where i actually have thoughts worth blogging about. lately, things have been feeling pretty big. and i have been carrying a lot of different feelings and emotions around with me. which tends to make the weight of everything feel a lot heavier. i was talking to my therapist at the start of the week. i was about eight minutes into session when my eyes just filled with tears. it had been a long overdue session and a long overdue cry. she of course inquired about my emotions this quickly into session. not because there is anything wrong with emotions; just a general wondering. and i blurted out that i was embarrassed. and out came tumbling a full sob story. about how just two weeks prior i had a full meltdown in the middle of concourse b at the chicago midway airport. like sank to the floor in a full, heaving, uncontrollable sob. openly. in front of hundreds of strangers. sweat dripping from my forehead. a damp mask on my face. a macbook with a draining battery. and in a full state of a panic attack. me. in the middle of the airport. and i know what you’re thinking. girl, what on earth. but my flight had just been canceled. leaving me without my stuff or medications in a city i barely knew. with a dissertation due at eleven fifty nine. and my macbook slowly dying. and no charger. in that moment, i felt absolutely paralyzed. unable to settle my soul or my mind. cosmically overwhelmed. mad at myself for being irresponsible. utterly confused as to what to do next or how to even move my feet. absolutely panicked and paralyzed. and the world continued to move. it’s okay, my therapist said, bringing me back to the present. it’s okay. i was a little surprised. it’s okay to feel like the world was too much in that moment. crying openly in an airport didn’t hurt anyone. it’s how you, your body and your brain needed to process the overwhelmingness of that moment. there it’s been said.
that it’s okay to feel. that it’s okay to have a moment when things aren’t going as planned. that a meltdown in the middle of an airport concourse isn’t the worst thing happening in the world. that feeling overwhelmed is okay. being mad or sad is okay. crying on a gurney in your pre-op room is okay. which by the way, true story, that happened on friday. because let me put you on to something. it comes from working through trauma. which i have had the disfortune of experiencing a shit ton of it over the last eighteen months. instead of squashing down every feeling that comes; instead of wishing it away; instead of listening to all the other thoughts trying to cloud your space. those feelings, they shape us. they make us human. they make us real. the things we go through. the things that make us mad or sad or just downright break us. those things shape us too. and if we squash them, we can’t fit into the right mold without them. we are shaped by what happens to us and who graces us with their presence. we are shaped by the people who love us and the ones who leave us. shaped by experiences and the things that don’t always feel right. shaped by our good days and our bad ones. and for me, there has been a lot happening in my life recently. and it has changed my shape. the shape of my identity and the shape of my heart. it has broken me and bruised me. it has shown me the true colors of other people. it has brought me closer to those who love me and deeper into understanding myself. it has pushed me into places of grace and gratitude. it has taught me how to reap and how to sow. but before trauma, i consistently stuffed everything deep down. for years and years, i gaslighted myself. encouraging myself to push things further and further down. because no one has time to see emotions. no one cares. no one relates. but the truth is, it’s all relevant. it’s all important. and most of all, it’s all okay.
so when i had a major meltdown in the airport; it wasn’t my finest moment. and i gave myself a hard time about it for days after. how unnecessary it was. how much time was wasted. how much energy was spent on those emotions. but when it all came bubbling out in therapy and my therapist was like- okay. that happened. and it’s okay. i practically threw my head up from my tear stained lap. it’s okay. feelings are okay. being mad at the world is okay. feeling hurt is okay. crying about a friend who broke your heart is okay. we are being shaped at this very moment. we are not complete. and the painful moments carve a lot out of us sometimes. so much so that it feels like we can never possibly be whole. and these past eighteen months have been painful. it’s been a full rerouting of absolutely every part of me. i have experienced trauma on first hand levels and my nervous system is off kilter. my brain hurts and my heart hurts and my body hurts. it’s been a constant shuffling between gratitude and grief. and healing takes time but it also hurts. and people continue to hurt me while i am healing. and the world keeps turning. and the shaping continues. and yes, there are good days. and some bad. some overwhelm me and others are downright disappointing. but shaping nonetheless.
when i cried on the gurney in my pre-op room a few days ago, it wasn’t because i was sad. it was this wash of full fledged emotions. shifting me back to just days before chemo treatments began and i sobbed on the floor of my shower, clutching my chest where my port had been inserted just days earlier. absolutely unable to verbalize how broken i felt two weeks into a cancer diagnosis. shifting me through the bad days of treatment and to the beautiful baltimore skyline on the day i reached remission. and the last eighteen months of my life honestly seem surreal sometimes. that someone can go through so much pain and fear and face death more than once and be here. on the other side. sitting crisscross applesauce on a gurney. but it also signifies the end of the biggest battle. the end of a trauma. and the beginning of a new level of healing. just because something is crossed off on the calendar or in my instance, surgically removed from my chest- it doesn’t mean the healing is complete. it doesn’t mean that the story is over. it’s just the start of a new chapter. and we all know how to read. usually one chapter bleeds into the next. you can’t have one without the others. you can’t read on without reading what came before. and that’s how my story is too. the awful chapters might be over and the characters who broke my heart have been written out but this chapter is still significant. this chapter is also shaping me. this chapter is still laced in trauma and healing and grief and coming back from a hellacious year.
and it’s okay. to be made of glass and bricks. to be made of what broke you and what built you. it’s okay for your chapters to meld and blend and bleed together. it’s okay to be shaped. by everything you’ve been through.
in fact, that’s kinda the whole point of living.