I’ve been branded, so to speak, by the WordPress gods. One of my posts was chosen for the Discover page. I was once Freshly Pressed, back in the day, when I had a different blog. It was a silly, off the cuff piece about how you should choose your mate based upon the bug he or she hates. My theory went, if you and your significant other each hate the same bug then there will be no one to kill that bug for you, so you must find someone who can tolerate the bug you loathe. That way, you’re not both jumping up on the coffee table and screaming bloody murder when you find one in the bathtub. I still contend that is a genius way to pick your partner.
The post chosen for the Discover page was written in a similar stream of consciousness style, but the emotion behind it was anything but light. It was a piece born from blind rage, frustration, and sadness. It is further proof of how much being ill has changed me. Pre-tumor Freshly Pressed fluff to post-tumor in your face, bare teeth and snarling Discovery.
Being sick has bled into every thread of my life. My finances are shot. If the most recent offer on our house falls through, like the previous two have, I will be forced to sacrifice a goat to the nearest active volcano to stave off possible bankruptcy. Lately, I’ve had an on again off again relationship with my mental health. My brain can be my best friend or occasionally your worst enemy. My body aches, both from the after effects of chemo and from the weight of guilt I often feel knowing my family and friends have had to go through this with me. I am exhausted in some form or fashion nearly every day.
Still, I cannot tell you it has all been entirely bad. I am different. That is true. I am more angry, but I am more apt to put it to good use. I am in pain, but I am more empathetic because of that. My soul feels heavy, but I find I’m more thankful for those that help me carry the weight. My Discover post is a complete picture of all the good that has come from so much bad.
It started with a comment I wrote on another blogger’s Facebook post. This blogger was alerting us to a coloring app. I mentioned how my hands had been hurting since I completed my year of oral chemo and offered my thanks for an alternative to colored pencils on paper since I found myself often unable to complete an entire page. That’s when someone replied with, what I called in my post, candy coated Zen master bullshit.
When she told me that her hands hurt too and she couldn’t color a page in a day either, but that didn’t bother her, and intimated that maybe I should just go with the flow like her I SAW RED. I’m not proud of that fact, but I’m just keeping it real here. I didn’t find anything kind or enlightening or happy about her reply. I found it smug and dismissive and I wanted to tell her so, but I am different. My illness has changed me.
The first thing being sick did was give me a new set of eyes. My world is bigger now, so much bigger than the tiny orbit of my body and mind. I’ve felt indescribable pain, both mentally and physically. I’ve been unable to walk on my own. I’ve had to depend on the kindness of those around me to complete basic tasks. I’ve had to admit that I can’t do it all by myself. I can now see how we all fit together. We’re not as separate as some would have us believe. And, that is why I wrote that piece.
My first inclination, pre-tumor, would have been to cast off a sarcastic remark. Were she to come back with anything other than a mea culpa, I probably would have told her to fuck off, but I stopped myself and I thought of someone other than me. In all honesty, I can’t say this happens all the time or even most of the time, but it happens more often than it did before the tumor.
The blogger whose Facebook page this short exchange took place on has been extremely candid about their mental health struggles and has gone to great lengths to promote connection and acceptance. My flippant ‘fuck off’ would have seriously harshed that mellow. I didn’t have the right to do it, but more importantly, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, I put it all in the blog post and that was far more cathartic than any internet fight with a stranger could ever be.
This is not the person I intended to be nor the body I ever wanted to live in, but I find myself more and more reaping the benefits of a life I never knew I needed. The blue skies are there, in between the storms, and I am thankful, but gratitude is not something that can be forced. You find it in your own way, on your own schedule, under your own terms. No one, in no way has the right to rush you to the resolution they desire.
These are my blue skies. In my own way. On my own schedule. Under my own terms. I am thankful. I’m thankful for a tumor that opened my eyes and made me mad. I’m thankful for the humility of it all that helps me rein it in from time to time. I’m thankful for a blogging platform that is so supportive of its writers. Most of all, though, I’m thankful for you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for hearing me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.