Coming down from chemo is less of a gentle linear descent and more of a learning how to drive a manual transmission-type of experience. I surge forward then stall out, grinding my gears and getting frustrated with the setback. It can change seemingly from moment to moment. Sometimes I feel okay, but more often than not I’m fatigued and/or in pain. I’m sure if I could produce steam from my ears from the wear and tear on my body and mind, I’d be smoking up the house by now.
Part of the truly unflattering thing about cancer is that it is unruly. It is a big, fat, greasy house guest who comes and sits on your new sofa. It refuses to leave. It asks for more pillows. You can’t go anywhere or do anything without being reminded that this invader has taken over your life and you can’t make it go away.
And okay, I am tired of it. I am tired of being tired. I am tired of being in pain. I am tired of not having mental clarity or focus. I’m tired of not being able to do my job the way I want and not being able to actively parent. I’m tired of letting people down and of the pained look on my kid’s face when I tell her I can’t do it. I am tired of all of it.
It’s difficult to be stuck with something you can’t resolve. It’s not something I signed up for, it’s certainly not something I really even understand. And yet, here I am, neck deep in something that profoundly impacts every move I make. But we all suffer through these things sometimes, I think. And my suffering is hardly unique.
But just because it’s common doesn’t mean I have answers. I have no idea what to do with it. It isn’t often (is it ever?) that I come here saying “I’m stumped.” But I am. And I think it’s disingenuous of me to pretend that I have it worked out when I don’t. And to be clear, I really don’t. I’m just kind of waking up each day and trying to thread the needle to get through to the other side.
And that is where this journey is interesting. Part of it is doing the hard work of finding courage, being vulnerable, and pushing through to higher ground. Another part of it is tucking your head into your knees so you minimize the impact of the shots fired against you. It’s bursts of progress in a sea of mostly survival maneuvers.
And on the days I’m getting pelted, I sometimes wish I could just walk away from the battle for a hot minute. I want to raise my hands in a TIME OUT and say, “Okay, this girl needs a break already!” I’d so love to slip into a moment where the weight of the world wasn’t on me, where I could feel lighter and free from all the heft that is cancer… and owning a business… and being a lawyer… and a mom.. and a wife…and on…and on…and on. But I can’t. So I wind up here thinking about all the other people who are going through something similar. I think about our unspoken solidarity and about how connection, even when it’s forged from pain, is still so deep and necessary. I think about the relief it brings. I think about linking arms with those around me who are also hurting (and isn’t the world just full of us right now?) and resting my head on my soul sister’s shoulder and taking a beat to find some comfort and peace in our collective efforts for survival.
Because think about it. The world is hurting. That hurt is being revealed to us in ways we never dreamed possible. It’s scary, it’s overwhelming, it’s transformative. But it’s also part of the season. Right now, for me and for lots and lots of people, we are in a season of painful transition. And sometimes there is nothing to do but just stay in it. Let it fulfill its course. Let it work through our molecules inch by inch until it’s done its work and it will let us go.
So tonight, I won’t try to solve this. I’m not even go to try to spin it. I will just put it out there like a little paper boat. It is what it is for now, and I’ll sit with it and watch if float on by until it washes away into something else.
Give ‘Em Hell.