embrace.

happy new year to y’all. whew. as my husband said ‘well that’s a wrap on the holidays’ as we exited the starbucks line this morning, i blurted ‘thank god’. and i almost apologized for the slip but realized that the holidays felt heavier this year. again, can’t put my finger on why that’s the case. but regardless; we made it to a new year. a new space. a new place. and with that comes picking my ‘word of the year’. last year was the word WHOLE; which stemmed from my immense desire to feel whole. and over the last three hundred and sixty five days give or take- i tried really hard to prove to myself that i am. always have been. that nothing is truly missing. that i am already whole. but i didn’t hit the mark entirely. in fact, i am still waiting for the check mark to appear next to the word whole on just about all my paperwork. and that’s honestly okay. because one of the things that came from this discovery of what might make me a whole ass everything is that i really did discover 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. and those pieces that already exist; well, they bring me to this year’s word of the year.

EMBRACE.

and before i give you a dictionary definition of the word and all the meaning behind choosing it for twenty twenty three instead of revisiting last year’s word; it’s important to talk about the last two years. sometimes it feels like it’s been a lifetime. actually very rarely does it feel that way. more than often, it feels like it was just yesterday. but it’s been two years. not quite to the date but we are closing in on two. and maybe it’s the anniversary creeping up that has me racing like a super human machine to try to be something that i am not. and honestly there is this huge staircase of trauma that i continue to navigate every single day. in just a few weeks, it will be my two year remission date. two whole years of navigating a life outside of cancer treatment. not outside of cancer. but outside of treatment. two years earthside in a new body. just waiting for the other shoe to drop. and over the last two years as a survivor of many things but cancer being the top contender; i have slowly but surely been experiencing the highs and lows of what it’s like to have lived when ya just might not have. and there’s a lot of pressure there- internal and external. to make your second chance pretty legit. but it’s also just a lot in general.

and yesterday at four o’clock in the afternoon, i sobbed hysterically crisscross applesauce in the middle of my unmade bed. as my brain just kept flashing the word ‘unlovable’ across the marquee in my head. just my own insecurities and my own trauma staircase creating an unlovable narrative. one that i hold true. one that i honestly believe is gospel. and so i type out this message to my husband because that’s all my brain can do. put words to paper and see how the world receives it. and here’s what i said- i feel unlovable. this is what i mean. i feel like i am not good enough for you. like my body isn’t what you want or what the world wants. i feel like i am just disgusting and you have to force yourself to want to be with me and everyone is just tolerating this version. but the truth is that even two years later, i feel broken and like i am not a real girl anymore. i worry that you miss the old person i was. i don’t know how to be seen as beautiful or sexy or lovable and in turn, it must mean no one wants me. and i am forever looking at the body that lasts for the rest of my life. because it will never be the same. i will never have a body like before. because it is gone. two years has passed and i am still weeping, full on snot dripping, shoulder heaving sobbing, crocodile tears over the loss of myself. of my body. of my body parts. of my sense of self. of what felt worthy. of it all. two whole years later. and there’s a lot that goes into all of that. things that will never make sense to anyone on the outside of this space. but the last few weeks have been pretty emotional. for some reason, a lot of my worth is tied up in what was surgically removed from my body two years ago. and right now, i am finding myself in a similar place to where i was just days before and days after my mastectomy. and i am deep in this mourning period that surrounds the idea that nothing will ever be the same. that no matter what happens from this moment forward, my body will never be the one that it was when i got married or when i first held my nephew or my niece. it’ll never be what it was when i learned to swim or in any of the photos pre cancer. it just won’t. and while most people like to remind me that i am so very lucky- it’s not about luck. it’s about me. and who i am. and who i am to other people. but it’s also about the sadness that exists from something that was never my fault. never my choice.

and so i cried for a long time last night. and my husband, god love him, held me while i cried. because sure, in two years, a lot has happened. and there is a lot to welcome in a new year. but there is still so much sadness and grief and mourning and healing and trauma that exists inside of me. that even though two years has slipped by, i am still so sad that my life was stolen from me and that my body was changed in ways i will never forget. and i remind myself that healing doesn’t have to be finished nor does it have to be hidden. that there can be ugly and uncomfortable parts of cancer remission out loud and in the open. that my suffering does not have to be silent or behind a closed door. that when the last surgery happens or the last vial is dosed into a port is not the end of the story. there are chapters and pages and sequels and series. there are moments that continue to alter me in remission. and there are moments from my past that still keep me awake at night. and that even in two years of healing and therapists and recurrence scares and boundaries and fighting for myself; there is still so much left to do as a survivor. there is something new to navigate every single day. there is always someone out there who is convinced the past is the past. there is always a bump or a symptom that dumps you right back at the top of the trauma staircase. because it’s never over. it’s never not right here. sometimes, it’s the last thing i think about. and other days, it’s consuming.

and so i guess i am just here to bother you all by saying that my head and my heart are in a weird place right now. they are really having a hard time finding peace and love. two years in the making. and there’s a lot of societal pressure to be skinny and beautiful and financially stable. and quite honestly, i can’t handle the pressure. i can’t handle juggling what i want while trapped inside what i don’t want. what i never asked for. what was never my fault. and i don’t know how long i have to cycle through it. maybe for another two. who the hell knows. but what i do know is that i have reached a point in all of my lengthy healing processes; a point in all my trauma cycling and a point in all my patterns of grief where i really, truly, honestly, one thousand percent do not care to give anymore energy or thought to how people perceive me. whole or half. healed or healing. i am above it. i am not accepting any negativity or gaslighting regarding where i am in all of this. i will not receive comments about my feelings. i will not be reminded of how lucky i am or that i had a good kind of cancer. i will not open myself up to people who desire to alter my trauma staircase or who suggest therapy to me. LOL. because lemme just say this- i am doing everything imaginable to live my life after cancer. and if it exists- i am doing it or i have tried it. and so this year, i am embracing where i am in my healing. i am embracing where i am in remission and the place i stand as a cancer survivor. i am embracing the struggles and the wins. embracing what this new year will bring.

because we are entirely made of the pieces of our lives. of our traumas. of our experiences. and those pieces- they make us whole. and for me, it is time for me to EMBRACE all of the pieces of me.

xoxo.

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