Seventeen years ago, as of yesterday, my father passed away. I know this like I know four is the answer to two plus two. The kind of fact that is deep rooted into your well being and hides there for all of time.
For the last ten years or so I have been able to put this tragedy behind me. Remembering my father for the man he was.
I was only eleven when I lost him and much to young to have many memories of him to hold on to. I tend to miss him the most when a big event in my life happens. Like graduation, marriage, and the birth of my daughter.
In most cases I agree with the age old saying that “time heals all wounds.” However, I also believe that there are some tragedies in life that you will never completely heal from. Those are the tragedies that you have to overcome by sheer power of will. For example, my past eating disorder, I highly doubt I will ever heal completely from that experience. I have written about this experience in past posts if you would like more information.
I have been “free” of my disorder for almost six years. However not a day goes by that I don’t fight off my internal demons. Forcing myself to look in the mirror and not see ugly. Believing that I am good enough without actually believing it way down deep in my bones. Loving myself is my greatest challenge. It is so easy for me to fall back into old habits, if I don’t continually tell myself that I am a good person, a lovable person, and that bad things happen.
I blame myself for everything because I could have done better. Should have done better. The guilt creeps in like a sliver and without taking the time to remove it I let the wood rot in my skin.
I bring all of this up because I ate a whole bag of doughnuts. Yes, a whole bag. I felt so guilty for slipping back into old habits that I didn’t allow myself a nutritious meal. I am not mentioning this for attention or pity. Or some half baked, “It’s ok! Chelsea, I love you!”
I KNOW you love me. I do. Really. It’s no different then a person slipping on a diet or an alcoholic having one more drink. The most important thing to remember is awareness. If I can be aware of the issue at hand I can tackle it. Like I said, the battle is never ending. A constant weakness.
It case you hadn’t already guessed, this is going to be a long post. Very long, I might even spilt it up over two nights. I would suggest grabbing a snack and getting comfortable.
So why am I suddenly slipping? Because I can’t face what is inside me. I am not driven by fear like my mom. I am not vulnerable and brave. I am weak and petty.
People always say that they admire my strength, but if I can be honest, truly honest… you would know that I am not strong at all. I avoid what matters and distract myself by busy work. Here is my untold truth, I seldom think of painful things. I live in a mindset that pushes everything out. To put it simply, I don’t allow myself to feel.
I go full throttle, until I can’t GO anymore. I come close to the verge of breaking, then get upset, maybe cry a little… but in no time flat I am back to the iron clad walls that surround my heart.
The past couple weeks have been a whirlwind of information and changes. My mom has one more treatment left. One more. After that comes the flood of choices that she will have to make. Lumpectomy with a very visible scar and uneven breasts? A mastectomy with one real breast and the other fake? A reduction and reconstruction combo? Or, the big double mastectomy and implants? In the end the choice is 100% hers to make but with each suggestion comes another throng of questions, insecurities, and problems.
For example, if she does do a lumpectomy, radiation comes HIGHLY recommend, and radiation has it’s own list of issues.
If she does do a mastectomy it will be a double because she doesn’t like the idea of having one real breast and one prothetic. Especially with her size, there is no way her breasts would be even. Also, with a mastectomy she will be without breasts for almost a year, as the process of staging implants is well, a long one.
I could sit here and try to type out all the options and the details of each but nobody has time for that. The big take away is simply that my mom has a very big choice to make and very soon.
My heart is heavy. My mom’s cancer isn’t about me and it never has been.
Yet, why do I feel like I have made it about me?
Shame hits me like a thousand horses. I have tried to write this post a million times but I keep distracting myself and putting it off because I don’t want to feel. I made all of these promises that I would be there for my mom but in my heart I don’t feel like I have done anything.
I started off gung-ho about helping, but I fell short.
I didn’t help provide nutritious meals, if anything I aided her desire for junk food. I didn’t bring comfort and ease. Only drama. All the stupid family fights and disagreements that only caused more stress. Not that she is a high stress person but I know that she hates being caught in the middle of all the petty fights my stepdad and I have.
A couple weeks ago things blew up, which only makes sense, when your an adult family of three living with parents. In the end David and I decided it was best to move out. We actively started looking for a new home and found what we were looking for. As long as everything goes well, we will start moving September 1st.
I feel sad about this. The house we are buying is only twenty minutes away from my parents but my moms fight is nowhere near done and I am abandoning her. It is for the best. I know it is, and I will still do what I can to be there for her every second I can be but it breaks my heart leaving her. Especially because she sets alone so many nights and I love being able to simply sit with her.
The thing is, her chemo is ending but her journey isn’t. I keep telling myself that I have time to correct my behavior and be better. However, in my heart I know that there is nothing more I can do. Ok, I CAN do a lot more but I don’t think I will. How selfish does that make me? The worlds worst daughter, right?
Then, I think about my dad and how he always told me to do better, be better. In a way I feel like I am failing both my parents.
I get so mad at myself for being lazy and inconsiderate that I feel lost in a deep unforgiving sea. My mom is the last biological parent I have left so you would think that I would fight tooth and nail to help her stay on this earth. Do whatever it took to keep her healthy. But, honestly, the pressure is too much to bare. Then the pain of loosing my mom creeps in and I become crippled.
Nothing is the same. It never will be again and if I let myself think about it too much, I loose all air in my lungs causing them to burn. And when the burn becomes too hot, I will finally allow the tears to free fall. I know she will survive this but she is different and always will be. I hate that. Truly.
Now, let me confirm my status as worlds worst daughter. I miss my old mom. I miss her so much that it turns my heart black. I can see her tombstone just a clearly as I can picture my dads. “Here lies a vibrant redhead who never took a day for granted! Loving life to the fullest.”
I am mourning the loss of my mother. The woman I spent 26 years loving.
I know she is still here in the physical, but cancer, chemo, the whole damn thing changes a person. How could it not?
I am awful, I know. I want her chemo to end. I want mom to feel better. I want just a glimpse of the women I used to know. I don’t want to see the devil taking over her beautiful soul anymore. I am not calling my mom the devil. I am calling cancer the devil.
I love my mom the way she is now, with all of my heart, but I am getting to know her all over again. No different then her getting to know herself all over again. The saddest part is that she is the one going through this deep emotional struggle and yet there are still some people around that are being so selfish. Much like myself. I know I am not the only one who started off gung-ho and then let her cancer slip into a dark corner of my mind. I am angry fo no reason and every reason all at the same time. My iron walls are slipping.
One of the hardest parts is that I know my mom would say different. That I have been a huge help. A great child. A wonderful blessing.
In fact she has said all those things, They don’t hit home with me though. Much like the “I’m rubber and you’re glue, whatever you say to me bounces of me and sticks to you.”
Her words bounce off me like rubber. My mom is gracious and ever-loving. It is a big reason she has so many supporters and pray warriors. To know my mom is to love her. She has no haters. If she does they remain hidden in there closets afraid of what her congregation of followers will say to them if they were to speak up.
Ok, that was a bit extreem but I am a writer and that is what writers do. In all seriousness, my mom has a BIG positive heart. I see it everyday in her smile and in her belief. the way she loves me unconditionally, the way she accepts all, and judges little. Don’t get me wrong she is no saint and her former red hair still shines through. She is only human after-all.
I see this fight taking its toll on her spirit.
The fight for the zest in her life, the positivity in her smile, and the pep in her step is fading.
How could it not? Like I said before… cancer changes a person. It’s changing my mom. My wonderful, over perky, once-a-cheerleader-always-a-cheerleader, mom. I made fun of her for so many years. Telling her to mellow out and now she has. I hate it. FU cancer. How dare you creep into my life, moms life, and take whats not yours!
That is the real fight. More then surviving. Its not letting the cancer take what’s yours. Not letting it change you forever. A tragedy that is only conquered by sheer power of will. Fighting for your soul.
I have been realizing that I haven’t given this all up to God, I haven’t let him help me. Carry my wounds.
Doing so would require me to feel.
For the first time in five months I am allowing myself to process. To feel. To believe. To find my place in the Son. I am running out of places I can hide.
I need to leave the darkness behind me and let the rain dry up. Someday my mom will find a way to shine with zeal. Cancer will be NO MORE. There is a place on the other side of all this that is warm and bright. I, we, have to be willing to take that leap.