Tuesday, November 8, 2016

My Tools

It's good to be back. I felt lighter after publishing that last post and I haven't regretted it. I was talking to my brother about the process and he said "maybe writing it all down makes you feel good but it doesn't come across in the writing; you sound beaten down." He was worried. I told him that I understood but that I didn't feel beaten down. I felt stronger because writing is my best form of therapy. And because the point is for me NOT to be silent anymore. The silence was making me sick--literally.

When I returned home from my last trip to visit mom; her sister, my Auntie Donna called. She said to me, "Annie--I don't know how you're doing this."  I asked her what she meant. She said "you know what I mean--recovering from surgery, moving into a new house, 3 kids, a marriage and your mother's terminal cancer." Oh--that.  "I'll tell you how I'm doing it Auntie. I haven't had the chance to share with you yet my ephinany from the morning after surgery...."

When I went in for my Hysterectomy, my Doctor was almost certain that we were dealing with Ovarian Cancer. My mother started a prayer group in NC. My sister in law Denise started one in CA. I'm sure there were more that I don't even know about. Mark and I were scared beyond words. When I woke up in the recovery room; my doctor was excitedly leaning over my bed with a photo of my left ovary. She said, "Look--you got to keep BOTH ovaries; it wasn't cancer!" I don't remember much more of that conversation but I do remember waking up the next morning alone in my room around 5am. It was quiet and the sun was just barely coming up. I was laying there reviewing all the events from the day before. I remembered being wheeled down for surgery. I remembered the mask going over my face. And then ofcourse I remembered my excited Doctor leaning over my bed with photos of a healthy ovary. I thought to myself, "What was the purpose of all this then?" Don't get me wrong--I was VERY GRATEFUL to not have cancer!!! But what was the point of all this? All the worrying. My kids. My husband. My mom. Why? We had just been through so much...the move, the layoff, the stress of buying the company, the stress of finding a home, etc. We had finally landed in a peaceful place. So why? I'm not sure if I was having that conversation with myself or with God but it was definitely a conversation. A few minutes later, I sat up in my bed in a huge "Ah-Hah" moment. I said--I'm pretty sure outloud....."Oh--I get it. It's because you're still doing the 'until thinking'! You weren't gonna be happy UNTIL Mark found a job. And then you weren't gonna be happy UNTIL you found a house and then you certainly weren't gonna be happy UNTIL you found out you were cancer free.  Well, you're cancer free; are you happy now? Because it's just gonna be something else right around the corner. It is. Wait 2 weeks and I promise you it will be something else. Life is hard and scary and also precious and wonderful and I HAVE TO LEARN TO JUST BE!!! Just live in the day and be grateful for the good stuff. Because there IS good stuff in every single day. There is. You just have to look for it; allow yourself to notice it.

It wasn't 2 weeks later--it was 33 days later that my mother called to tell me she had terminal cancer. And as I was standing on that porch listening to her words, there was a parallel conversation going on that said, "See--I told you this is how it goes. Don't freak out. Just breathe. You expected this. You knew it was coming." And I was calm. Remarkably so. No tears. Just support and love for her.

If you read this Blog then you know I DO believe in God and I do believe that he hands you this stuff to deal with. I do. But I also believe that he points you in the direction of very valuable tools if you pay attention. My first tool was that conversation in the hospital the morning after surgery. My second tool was an interview that Conan O'Brien did with Louis CK on December 23, 2015. Now I love Louis CK but I've never watched Conan O'Brien, so it was pretty random for me to come across this clip. In it, Louis is talking to Conan about life and how it's tremendously sad just by being in it. But he goes on to make the point that in those moments it's so important to just be sad and let the sadness hit you like a truck because sadness is poetic and you're lucky to live sad moments. When you let your body feel sad, your body has antibodies of happiness that come rushing in to meet the sadness and it's amazing and beautiful. You can watch that interview here. I have held on to those words and every time I have felt sad regarding my mother, I have let it come. It is always the most random, unexpected time...folding laundry, taking a shower, sitting in the carpool, etc. I just let it come and the tears flow until there are no more. One night everyone had gone to bed and I sat out on the sofa to watch my recording of Dancing With The Stars. Mark came out of the bedroom and looked at me crying. He said, "What happened?" I said "Nothing." He said, "What's wrong then?" I said, "Nothing." He looked confused. I said "When the sadness comes; I just let it come because I need to. It's the only way through." He came and sat next to me on the sofa in silence. He pulled me closer so my head was leaning on his shoulder and he just let me cry.

My third tool was in Glennon's book Love Warrior. I didn't pick up that tool there though. I heard it in her interview with Oprah Winfrey. She was talking about pain and she said "pain is a traveling professor and it just goes and knocks on everyone's door; the smartest people are the ones who say come in and don't leave until you've taught me what I need to know." You can see that interview here.

So "how I'm doing it" is by using my 3 tools. I'm not doing the "until" thinking anymore. I'm letting the sadness hit me like a truck so those happiness antibodies come rushing in and I'm letting that wise professor sit on this sofa until he's taught me everything I need to know. I don't feel beaten down. I'm growing and I'm learning and I'm becoming the strongest and best version of me. 

P.S. No Kidney Stones! A large cyst on that damn left ovary and a small cyst on the right. Almost makes me wish she'd taken the ovaries along with everything else but then I'd be in full blown Menopause and you'd be hearing a whole different set of bitching. Life! :)

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