living again

Dec 17, 2011

I am cleaning my room today. It is my Christmas present to myself. I am getting rid of piles and piles of clothing that no longer fit, are no longer in style, or are no longer in good enough shape to wear in public. It is not easy for me to get rid of clothing…for some reason I want to hang on to it forever. I don’t know where that comes from.

While I was cleaning, I saw, for the gazillionth time, the enormous front-clasping bra I was sent home from my lumpectomy in. Its purpose was to hold the surgical dressings and ice pack in place for the first 24 hours. This bra has sat on the side of my tub since July. Sometimes I look at it and think about the months I carried the lump inside of me. Sometimes I think about the fear. Sometimes I think about the blessings. Sometimes I think about the lessons I learned. Sometimes I let those emotions come back. Sometimes I think I should hang on to it so I can use it again if I ever need to have another surgery on my breasts.

Mostly I just look at it and am sad. Sad because I have not been myself since that long ago day in April when I knew something was growing inside of me. Sad because I let hopelessness beat me down. Sad because I let fear in. Sad because I haven’t known what to do post-surgery…there is no place for those of us whose results come back benign, but are at a huge risk of getting beast cancer. No one knows what to do with people like me. There is no support group, no treatment options given, no real understanding by friends who are so happy the lump was not malignant, but can’t comprehend that my fear is still in high gear. I have felt almost paralyzed for the last several months because choosing to love is scary for some reason. In some convoluted way I think I have convinced myself that holding back a part of my heart will somehow protect me from pain if I do get breast cancer and do have to say goodbye. I can’t even talk about it really…whenever someone asks me about it, I go into business voice mode and answer their questions in a detached clinical way. It is SO not me, but I haven’t known how to change it…to change me into one whole person instead of having one person that is on the inside of me dealing with all of this and another person I show to the world.

Today I decided I was ready to let the bra go to the burn pile. I decided I was ready to say goodbye to the pain and fear and suffering and tears and incapacitating despair that the lump represented in my life. I decided I was ready to live more fully present in each moment.

I don’t know what is in store. I don’t know if I will ever need an extra-large surgical bra again. All I know is I am going to live and love and savor and appreciate both the blessings and the lessons of my life. I am going to tear down the walls I have let build up in my heart the last few months…the fear of being too close to people, the fear of hurting too much, the fear of being too vulnerable. These fears are not me. They are not who I truly am. I am ready to be me again…perhaps a wiser me, but me nonetheless.

I hope bra burning is the first step.

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  1. Tracy, I’m saying this from deep in my heart… please don’t think I am belittling your pain, because you know that I understand. You can’t let yourself have less of a life now than you were meant to have because you are afraid… if you don’t live and love and go on… if you let the fear overtake you… then you might as well have had breast cancer. Embrace this “second chance”. Live life to the fullest, love with all your heart, and if the worst happens, then you’ve lived well, and you won’t have regrets. If the best happens, then you’ve lived well, and you won’t have regrets. Stop thinking about it. Stop worrying. (Easier said than done, but do it. I mean it.)

    • tracy

      I know…it’s so silly, really. I think I have done a really good job of continuing to live, but I notice a difference in my heart, in my openness to love deeply. I am SO done with that. I am ready to love others…and myself…to pieces!

      • Not silly… it’s real life, real emotions. But I know you can be happy and not let this change your heart in a negative way. :) Hugs!

  2. Anne

    Can’t wait to see your clean room. I think I might take my very first bath in there! Love you! I’m so glad you burned that bra. Burn on! I’ll help you with your house and then you can help me with mine! See you in a few days.

    • tracy

      Much progress has been made today, but it will be a miracle if it all gets done before Christmas. Complete closet overhaul is needed!

  3. Anne

    I would hang two ginormous metal rods out in the garage and take everything out there. Then clean and vacuum and only bring back in what you want or what fits. The rest needs another solution. Sadly.

  4. Anne

    Hello. It is a long time since your last post. Also, could you take the ‘s’ off of needs? Thank you so dang very muchos.

  5. Vanessa

    Tracy have you read “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon or
    “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” by Weston A Price? You probably have, but if not I think you would love them. Look them up on Amazon! I think there is so much hope for those of us with health problems- I think the first step is turning to a diet more like our ancestors…these books explain how and why! Also Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride. The GAPS diet is supposed to cure many things- one of which is hormonal imbalances. I am trying to implement them in our familiy as our New Years resolution…yeah on the bra burning! Here’s to a healthy 2012!

    • tracy

      Yes, I own both of them and they are some of my favorite books! Our dentist is a follower of Weston A. Price and that is one reason why we drive clear to SLC to see him. I have heard of the GAPS diet, but have never tried it. Please share your experience with it!