This Is Me

Oh hey there. Here I am again, facing something big and scary and new. This time, you helped me get here. Let me tell you about it.

I’m going surfing in Maui with other cancer survivors. Before you think to yourself, “That’s not scary, what is she droning on about?” try to see it my way.

First, any time I leave my family I get stressed. Something about being totally vulnerable and dependent while nearly dying does that to me. There is an anxious undertone to everything I do when we are apart, and it can be hard to handle.

Second, surfing is a physical activity. No kidding, right? Well, let me tell you how it feels to think about doing anything physical when you can barely fasten the seatbelt on the plane. Let me tell you what it feels like to have zero, and I mean zero, confidence in your strength or endurance. Let me try to explain how it messes with your sense of self and courage when you don’t trust that your body will be there for you.

I can’t catch myself when I fall. I can’t pull out of trouble or course correct because I don’t have the strength. I feel pretty helpless and it’s scary to think about putting myself in a situation that exploits that very weakness.

Don’t even get me started about wearing a bathing suit.

Every time I have to do something physical, I have to confront the loss of the person I was. I have to grief the loss of what I used to be and somehow make peace with where I am. Harder yet, I have to find the courage to somehow believe I will return to health. That feels so far away right now that I’m honestly not even sure it will ever happen.

I’m going to get to do all this vulnerable stuff in front of strangers. Sure, it’s an empathetic crowd, but even there exists the temptation to compare myself. Knowing I will likely be the largest, weakest person there crushes my soul.

It’s a funny thing, wanting change but being paralyzed by fear of the journey. I think it’s easy for people to say, “If you’re so unhappy, change.” Yeah, okay. I’m trying. But it’s hard and the battle takes incredible strength. So be patient with me, because I am going to be patient with myself.

I realize I get to live the narrative I create. So I’m changing it. Yes, I’m fat. Yes, I’m not as strong as I was. But God damn, I’m still here and I am beautiful and strong and courageous. Not despite my size or capacity. I am beautiful, strong and courageous because of who I am, just as I am.

I will take pictures of myself on this trip. I won’t hide in the background because of my appearance. I will make friends. I will tell stories. I will listen. I will grow and I will be bigger than my fear.

This is me. This is who I am right now. I am working on the rest. I have to stay in my lane and focus on my path because I can’t live anyone else’s. Hating on myself will not lead me to the life I want to live and it isn’t fair.

I’m respecting the journey that has brought me here. I am respecting the person I’ve become. I am giving myself love and kindness so I can go and soak up this amazing opportunity.

Thank you to everyone who donated and helped make this trip possible. For me and for you, I’m going to go all in. No holding back, just love. Mahalo.

Give ‘Em Hell

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