Adjectives. My search in discovering who I was post cancer. A chapter from my blog book, PTSD and Cancer: Lost, alone and afraid.
December 29, 2009
I feel like I am being too transparent and I fear criticism. I cannot live by my expectations or other people’s expectations. I always try but I need not place that unnecessary burden on my back. It is time to get well.
I wrote a long email to my sis-in-laws this morning. In doing that, whoa, emotion welled up. Writing is revealing memories.
One topic I will write about later is post-traumatic stress syndrome. I am curious about this and an article I recently read confirms my curiosity.
The following is the beginning of my correspondence with my social worker from Cancer Care. I wrote personally to her and not on the thread because, once again, I thought my troubles were nothing in comparison to the other survivors. I have since learned it is safe and okay to write on the thread how I am truly feeling and I am not rebuffed but accepted and validated.
December 21, 2009
I guess I need to “talk” with you personally. First, it is very comforting to know you are there for me and second, it is getting harder and harder for me to talk with others about my questions.
I find myself of late doubting myself. Please read my entry for the week 12/14. I used to be a pretty confident person; secure in myself, had goals and generally accomplished them. I kept myself busy. Now I am so unsure of what I want. After being released from the hospital and coming home, my question was “who am I and now what do I do with myself.” Cancer shook me and I was lost in purpose. I was glad to be alive and now living apart from the medical world, what do I do with myself?
Recently, I am discovering more about myself. I thought I was past the grieving and loss and putting myself back together. I am attending a Bible study and two months ago I was asked to join the leadership team. Also, I applied for a very part time job up on our local ski hill and I was very interested in starting up a cancer support group. These are areas I would have naturally participated in before diagnose. This morning I just feel lost.
I regret having committed to the leadership team, I don’t want to work (I am turning in a resignation letter tomorrow. I really don’t have to work, I applied so I could be up on the hill when my family skis) and I am thinking since I am in this doubtful phase, I probably should not co-facilitate a support group.
I wrote in my journal this morning, “I am having a hard time with sticking to a commitment and then follow through with the commitment.”
“Right now any commitment outside of my home makes me feel distracted and I feel a discontent. From my discontent, I torment myself with cynicism. However, I feel focused in my home and I feel safe there. I have routine and I know my house and I am safe and secure there.”
So I went to the thesaurus to look up all of the above underlined words and found the antonyms.
Distracted: calm, not bothered, quiet, soothe
discontent: believing, hopeful, optimistic
torment: contentment, glee, happiness, joy
cynical: trusting, undoubting
All the antonyms describe what I am NOT right now; pretty sad.
I feel like I can’t talk to anybody about my feelings. My husband is understanding and thinks I am being pretty hard on myself. Other than him, I think anyone else would think I am wallowing in pity and not able to get past my cancer even though I am in complete remission. During my cancer and nearly a year after, I wrote extensively on my Caring Bridge blog. I wrote the good, the bad and the ugly. I don’t think I could write what I am experiencing right now – they just don’t understand, or at least I think they wouldn’t understand. But isn’t this a part of having cancer, too? Experiencing all this emotional aftermath and doubt and adjusting and accepting?
I had a flashback the other day. Sitting on my hospital bed, IV lines connected to my Hickman, whizzing sounds, alarms – a lifestyle. I just can’t believe all that happened, it is surreal. Nearly one year in intense emotional overdrive and survival and then my life goes back to “normal”? It’s not normal and I don’t feel normal, like I used to before cancer.
This morning after I looked up the antonyms I wondered this question:
How does a soldier disconnect himself/herself from his intense training and active duty? How does he retire and go back to normal life?
I have a social worker here in Kalispell but she is limited in her counseling ability. I wouldn’t know who else to go to. We recently attended a new church and the wife of the pastor said she had cancer once.
Thank you for your time. I just want to know that this emotion and stress will pass. Please comment. .
It’s a little embarrassing having you read all those words I chose to describe me . . . However; my sis-in-law sent me a quote from a speaker and author, Pasty Clairmont.
“Turn on the light of friendship. Let others know when you are uneasy and then allow them to stand with you. It will comfort you, strengthen you, and keep you humble. We weren’t meant to go this life alone.
“Keep you humble” – the opposite of humble is pride. Those three words of Pasty’s shatter my pride.
While hiding behind my wall of strength, I did not ask for prayer. Having been so intensely prayed for during my treatment, I realized the value of and answer to prayer. In my growing despair, I wanted to desperately ask for you to pray for me but my pride was in the way. So now I am asking for you to pray for me. Please, pray for me.
I want to stay quiet. I increased my anti-depressant but I want to reduce it again when appropriate. I want my tears to come freely and I want the internal scars to heal. When the timing is correct, I want to and I must start giving back to others. I want to become an encourager and support – God will be glorified through all of this . . .