i haphazardly jotted down the word unwritten a few months ago. pretty sure it happened after hearing the song unwritten by natasha bedingfield come on in an old navy. much of my story has already been written. that’s the beauty of existing. life kinda marches you forward and before ya know it, some of your story is already written. published. chapters woven together and bound. and it’s kinda weird to look at your story and your chapters and see that some people didn’t make it to where your bookmark lies now. there are some moments where i stop and think about where i am in all of this and recognize that some people didn’t join me in all of what has been written. and lately, there has been this layer of fatigue that has settled on my bones and a layer of loneliness that has covered me. and i will be honest with you when i say- it hasn’t been easy lately. some days are easier & sometimes it feels like it takes everything in me to move one foot in front of the other. and grief settles itself in the smallest places and the cold harshness that it brings arrives at the strangest of moments. i can be fine one moment and wrapped in my own tears the next. because so much of my story was unwritten before my life took this rapid turn. so much of myself was unwritten before then also. and it must mean that the grief deep in my bones and the grief that is settled in the smallest places; well, it must be grieving what never was able to be written. a lot of my grief and my pain and what keeps me awake right now is about the things that will never be. so much of my life was taken from me just so i could live longer. so much of who i was had to go so i could survive. and even a year later, it still feels unfair. it still breaks my heart. it still feels hollow. and maybe i sound like a broken record by now or maybe y’all still tolerate me; but the truth is what’s unwritten hurts just as much as the parts that made it onto the pages.
it was an enormous fight. messy and rushed in the beginning. ugly and painful and unbearable for the larger stretches. it felt like the days took weeks and the weeks took years. it’s a story that has so many twists and turns and ups and downs. and a lot of it is buried so deep inside of me that i am convinced those parts will never resurface. battling cancer will never not be the largest part of who i am. there. i said it. and maybe it’s me who is still struggling with the fact that it’s true. and i read something today that said that in times of deep and hard transition, “you’ll always have you”. and for me, it feels like that can’t be true. because as i attempt to ungracefully navigate this huge sadness and massive life transition, i can’t help but notice that there is nothing left of me. from before. nothing carried over. and i just want the pieces of me to reassemble themselves right here, right now. like the power rangers. but instead, this transition feels heavy and painful and buried in grief. you’ll always have you. ehhhh. not when it’s been chopped off into pieces and stamped with a capital c. not when your story that connects you to who you were is so wet from your tears and too painful to recount. not when the past is so laced with trauma that it’s easier to just stand back. when the future holds as much uncertainty as the whole story does. there is so much to still write. in my life pages. as a person healing from cancer. as a person healing from a broken heart. as a person who has buried a version of themselves that took thirty years to perfect. as a person who is trying to be somebody after already being somebody. the written parts of infectious disease doctors and planning my funeral from an intensive care unit bed followed by the written parts of cancer, oncologist visits, tear covered pillows and mrsa outbreaks. those are the things that disappeared from my ‘to be written’ story. and now the dust has settled on what gets earmarked as a couple bad years to most people but for me, it shifted everything. it changed the chapters ahead and crinkled the pages of the finished ones. it altered the plans i had for what still hasn’t been written. and while i respect that we don’t always get what we want; the universe and i really disagree on when it’s my turn for a break. and right now, no chapter writing makes sense to me. there isn’t an ounce of energy left in me to give myself up to the next chapter. because right now, i am stuck. in this place that i am willing to bet most people thought was long forgotten. but it’s this place between calm and chaos. where everything stands still. it’s this big pocket of reflection and self awareness but it’s also where grief tends to rest. right now, i am in an ugly phase of the grief journey. one that i have nimbly jumped from stone to stone in. and one that brings a different emotion almost hourly. and i say this after a full meltdown crosslegged on my bed two nights ago. it happened after seeing my reflection in a parking garage glass wall while walking to my car. i felt like the reflection was this unfinished and horrific person. with uneven body parts and an overfilled chest. and when i passed the mirror in my bathroom on the way to take a shower later that evening, that same uneven and unfinished reflection was staring back at me. and twenty minutes later, i am sobbing quietly into my pillow. because this part; this painful part in the many painful parts of healing; this part wasn’t in my plan. this part wasn’t in the written notes. these unwritten sections of my story are beginning to pan out in ways that don’t fit the original script. and there is still so much that is unwritten. there is still so much more that belongs in my narrative. and my brain and my heart are stuck in this ugly trauma pattern. and the unwritten parts of my story feel untouchable. that they will be tainted by what was just laid out on paper.
so truth be told; my story didn’t pan out the way i wanted it to pan out. a lot of the chapters that i had planned, had pages that got left in the rain. it’s been rough. and honestly, it still is. there is so much rooted in me that is lined with grief and built from trauma. there is so much of me unhealed and sad. there is so much of me that feels unfinished and broken. there is so much that is unwritten. and as i sobbed through an hour of virtual trauma therapy today, my therapist reminded me that things can be broken and beautiful. things can be black & white. you can dance in the rain. you can have a happy life & still be sad. my story is not finished. my pain and grief and healing will not be on every page or consume every chapter.
these are the moments that are being written. these are the things that build the next chapters. it’s unwritten. and that’s okay.