it only took me twenty four hours to decide on my word for the year ahead. i told you all that i would let you know when i did. it was a battle, for sure. but as i lay on my husband’s chest earlier tonight, with my tears dripping onto his tee shirt; i realized that my word for twenty twenty two had to be the word w•h•o•l•e. whole. as in one piece. as in everything. as in entirety. whole. fitted into one. whole. and as i lay there quietly crying on his chest, which by the way is a favorite past time, i said out loud to him- “i think my blog just helps people understand where my head is. why i feel so lost. so incomplete. why i just don’t feel whole.” and that’s it. it’s true. after the messy few years of my life that just recently passed, i just feel like i exist here. the purpose feels off. the significance has disappeared. people walked out of my life during an immense crisis. and i can’t help but question if there is something wrong with the version of myself that is left after all of that. sometimes i feel that all people can see is the shell that is left after fighting and grieving and healing and falling apart. because let me tell ya, the putting yourself back together after all of that is just, wow, it’s a lot. it’s more than you could ever imagine. and at this exact moment, eleven months in remission and nearly a year out from a life altering surgery- i still find myself looking for the missing parts. some of those parts are things i can never get back. and some are parts that don’t even fit anymore. and some are parts that i never needed to begin with. but it still feels incomplete. still feels empty. still feels three quarters of the way finished.
whole. complete. finished. something that just doesn’t seem to be how i feel right now. as i find myself in limbo between my life before cancer and my life now, after. but somehow, everyone else seems to see me as whole. a whole lot of whole actually. a whole person. with a whole experience. and a whole lot of strength. and for me, i just keep circling back to all the things that feel like they are missing. and all the things that don’t feel like they belong to me. and all the things that i miss. and all the ways that i couldn’t possibly be whole. because everything feels incomplete right now. everything feels a little off center and a little skewed. this version of me, the one that exists right now, in this moment, in this space- it just doesn’t feel complete. and i know, i know. i one thousand percent know what you are thinking right now. girl, you’re crazy. you are already whole. in more ways than one. and sure maybe that’s true. and maybe that’s how the world sees me. but my trauma. it’s getting in the way. it’s blocking the view. it’s skewing the way that i can see myself. it’s broken me in some of the deepest parts of myself. it’s cracked me in such ways that sometimes, i don’t know how to glue it all back evenly.
and in the last two years, i have been in the depths of hell. all by myself. watching parts of me literally be stripped away. i watched cancer wreck havoc on my body and my brain. i watched the virus attack every cell of my body. i watched my best friend of twenty years walk away from me. i watched my marriage struggle to survive. and i pieced all of those things back together. i realized that my life was important and i truly found the friends who deserve to be titled the best. i rescued my marriage from the depths of grief. and i swam to the surface when i honestly did not have anything left inside of me. and on the other side of cancer and treatment and survival is this other place. this space where you are quite literally handed the shreds and shards of your former self. and nothing fits right anymore. and your tolerance is low. and your standards are different. and you expect nothing. and people look at you differently. some with an immense amount of pride or awe. and some with never ending sympathy. and some think you can’t possibly do anything anymore. and some think it’s all a thing of the past. and it’s hard to figure out what’s true and what’s not. to really find who you are in the mess that’s left. but in it, you’re still whole. in one whole piece.
so yeah. yup. i picked the word ‘whole’ for the year ahead. for twenty twenty two. two years after my life shifted entirely and i found myself up against well, up against myself. oddly enough. and even though i don’t feel whole; i know that i need to use this year as an opportunity to prove to myself that i am. always have been. that nothing is truly missing. that i am in fact whole. maybe it’ll take two months. maybe it’ll take all year. but this year is about reminding myself, showing myself, proving to myself that everything is already here. the pieces are already here. everything that makes me the person my husband loves, my family loves, my friends love, my students love- those pieces make me a whole damn human. one really amazing human.
whole. it’s my word. maybe it’s your word too. that’s cool. we can share. we are entirely made of the pieces of our lives. of our traumas. of our experiences. and those pieces- they make us whole.