I don’t know where to start or what to feel. I’m angry. I’m patient. I’m sad. I’m hopeful. I’m scared. I’m optimistic. I’m frustrated. I’m confident. I feel lost. Can I beat this? Yes. Yes! I don’t want surgery. I’m scared of chemotherapy and radiation. I want to avoid them, if I can. I’m avoiding dealing with those possibilities by buying stuff to organize the house. Now I just need to actually organize the house. I have six items on my professional must-complete list before I can hang an indefinite out-of-office shingle. Six items I needed to do earlier this week, needed to do the week before this, and I still need to do them. I’m crying. I’m smiling. I’m up. I’m down. Staring into space rotates with mental gymnastics. Laughter cycles with tears.
I know I need to be patient with myself. I need to be gracious and realize that I’ve gotten some pretty horrible news and it’s going to be hard to process.
That’s what I’m calling this emotional trampoline.
I’ve never been a moody person. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve gotten a little weepy when my cycle’s about to start. Now, though. Up down up down like a Jack-in-the-box with a broken lid and a determined kid. This morning I woke up sad. I had this question sitting on my hope: Did I somehow do this to myself? We went for a walk. I talked it through with Jim. He advised me to put the kibosh on that idea immediately. I have a feeling the whole blame game is going to be a thread, but I listened to him and enjoyed the walk in the sun. Ah, sun. He told me AARP sent an email this morning about the effects of Vitamin D on COVID-19. With our daily three-milers, we’re getting big doses of D, so that was good news. We got home and I cleaned and reorganized a minute section of our house, but it was enough to lift my spirits. Look at that wood gleam! Then, my parents called. They were out for a drive and our conversation was peppered with their exclamations at other drivers and each other and it was such a piece of normal that I felt normal.
Then I was sad again. Then my son called. Happy! But sad that he’s thirteen hours away, moved away less than three months ago, and for the last month I’ve given him blow after blow. Hi hon. Your mom’s got high blood pressure. Hi Hon. Well, I’ve also got high cholesterol and I’m pre-diabetic. Hi hon. Well, the mammogram came back abnormal. And then the biopsy and then, well, you know.
I don’t want to say the word. Words have power. This word has a lot of power. I don’t want to give it any more than I already have.
Hence – cood swings.
Vacillating between happy and sad, hopeful and frightened, is going to be my new normal. I’ve asked for Jim’s patience about twelve thousand times. So far he’s given it. I’m giving myself grace. I only found out four days ago. My first visit to a doctor in eighteen years was one month ago today. Since then I’ve been pummeled with bad diagnoses. In the middle of a pandemic. While I watched my career disappear.
But, I know the “c” is there, and I’m using a little “c” instead of a big “C” because little is how it’s going to stay, until it goes away completely. I have a huge support system. Bigger than I knew. Bigger than I could have imagined.
And I’m going to write. Oh, I have written so many words in the past few days and have so many piling up and spilling out. Writing has always been my therapy. In my twenties, as I went from an emotionally abusive marriage immediately into a physically abusive one, journaling saved me. I’d pick up my pen whenever I needed to vent, and I needed to vent often. Once I was on my own I no longer needed that escape. Ten years later I met Jim. Five years later we married. Then, on our one-year anniversary, I decided I needed to write again. I cracked the spine on a new journal and began recording happy thoughts. It became a habit. A new, happy (for the most part) habit. Four years later, every day, the first thing I do is open my journal and write. In those four years I have grown as a person and as a writer. I’ve written two books, writing my third, contributing to a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, and a seventh.
This is how I will get through this. I will write. I will write until my pen runs out of ink (which any journaler knows is a cause for celebration). It’s the only thing that will save my sanity, and hopefully Jim’s.
Happy. Sad. Scared. Hopeful. Angry. Patient. Guilt, because I can no longer function rationally or keep up with my responsibilities. Grace, because how could I? Confused. Determined. Frustrated. Resigned. Weak.
I’ll survive this, and I’ll come out stronger than ever.
Cood swings be damned.