Thursday, June 28, 2007

patience

"Patient" is not a term people generally associate with me.

I'm much more of instant gratification kind of girl. I want what I want and I want it right now, thank you very much.

Last week, years after I first read it, I decided I needed to own and re-read a copy of Thoreau's Walden.

As excited as I am to read that book again, I haven't even yet let myself finish the first chapter because I'm almost afraid it will be all it takes to convince me to sell the house and head off to live simply, and enjoy my life.

I am told I must be patient. So I stamp my feet and paw at the ground, restless. Why should I be patient? What exactly is it I'm waiting for?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

addendum

Perhaps it is simply resignation, the course of least resistance.

I wish I could know for certain. I suppose I will, when the unrest subsides.

Monday, June 25, 2007

unrest

I stopped outside the post office to chat with a pastor in the community.

He too, is facing cancer.

The question was raised as to whether or not seeking treatment was some sort of circumvention to God's will.

The pastor nodded his head enthusiastically. That's a question we are frequently faced with.

His words were simple, not filled with flowery language or dotted with scripture.

We must pray to know God's will. He will give us the answers.

But how will I know that it is truly God's will that I'm hearing and not what I wish His will to be?

If we are filled with unrest at a decision we have made, it is most likely not the will of God, for when we do His will, we will be at peace. If you are filled with unrest it is either because the decision does not yet need to be made or because God wants you to rethink the decision.

I have heard His voice distinctly before.

Write.

Write what?

Write what you know.

But what do I know well enough to write?

Write of God.

But who am I to write of God? What do you want me to do, study theology? Walk away from this world of over-indulgence to live simply, to drown the noise of all the distractions we have created so that I might hear and know Him better?

I thought I'd lost my mind, considering the notion for a moment, as it filled me with unrest. Yet now, it is the idea of doing anything else that fills me with anxiety.

Kate

I read your blog, but don't usually comment. Today's entry intrigued me a little bit, though. I've often wondered if the world just ASSUMES that, when a person is diagnosed with cancer, s/he will do anything to fight it. I never hear much about people who think that fighting is not the best solution. A waste of time when time is a precious commodity? Tell us more.

I cannot shake the insistent belief that we offend God by seeking to outwit him, to go to such drastic measures to save what He gave, that is His to take.

I am a hypocrite for saying so. I am not so trusting of God's care for my son's health, his life. Perhaps my faith is simply not strong enough. My son's faith is much stronger, confidently assuring me last year, with the innate wisdom of a ten-year-old, that I didn't need to worry because God was taking care of him.

I believed him whole-heartedly. And sent him to the hospital for tests to further alleviate my fears.

We spend so much of our lives trying to outwit death. Yet when we are lying there, gasping our last breath, do you think our hearts will be flooded with admonitions of ourselves because we didn't do enough to save ourselves, or will it be so laden with regrets for all that was left undone because we were too busy working to pay the doctor, the health insurance, the medicine, the house payment, the car payment, the credit card bill?

It was dying, not my own of course, that cemented my faith in God. I do not fear death, having seen the glory that follows. I cannot grasp why we should fight it so vehemently, unless we accept that there is nothing to follow it and I can no longer even entertain that notion.

It seems as though the very search for understanding the way of God— the creation, termination and prolonging of life, would be considered a sin against God, as He provides us with all we need. How dare we not place our trust in Him?

Some will argue that He provided us with the knowledge to master His work, ever mindful that we are created in His image.

I often argue with myself, that when we defile our bodies with synthetics, God no longer bears the responsibility of healing what we have done. As I smoke another cigarette, whining that I'm having to deal with cancer.

We have created a world much different than that which He created for us, then have the audacity to rail against Him at the realization we are our own destroyers. Who are we to attempt to bend the will of God?

I believe there is something very telling about a society, which spends most of its collective energy, most of its living, in attempting to avoid the inevitable. A society staunchly refusing to hand over control.

Oh don't get me wrong. I'm not saying we should tempt death, only that we should not worry so much about when and where it will come.

At some point or another we are all faced with the question of what we would do if we knew we were dying. Well, we are all dying from the moment we're born. What difference does it make whether we know it or accept it, with or without a specific expiration date?

Of course, then again, maybe I just figure things would be a lot easier if I didn't have to worry about it.

Would my walking away from this world I have created for myself, towards a world in which I long to find myself before I die, constitute giving up? Would I have enough strength of character to turn my life completely over to God, walking away from the comforts I have created so that I might live by His will and His grace alone?

I'm not certain.

But I look to Him and those who have reached Him before me for guidance.

alright already

I called the doctor to reschedule my general overview appointment. *rolls eyes*

And since I'm making a concerted effort to be a good, conscientious patient, I also agreed to allow them to schedule the damn CT scan. Sheesh! Looks like the next two weeks will be deluged with doctors — I go for the surgical consult this Thursday, then go for the CT sometime next week (oh the joy of drinking that chalky fruity concoction!) and then go see him next Friday. AND I even called the oncologist to make sure she received the pathology reports and surgical notes from last summer (I admit it was a bit alarming to be treated without the present oncologist being armed with that info!) I can't help but wonder if that will change her approach.

I'm still not certain I see the point in all this. It seems like a waste of time and money. I cannot shake the belief that God has a plan, although I'm not certain of its details. I find it conceited and presumptuous and downright sinful to interfere. The ignorant hands of humans seem to have a way of muddling things ya know.

But there are those, very dear to me, who have asked that I humor them in this endeavor...ok, so maybe that's not quite what they were asking for, but that's about the best I can offer at the moment.

bleh!

There has to be something more to this life than this mindless dribble I deal with day in and day out.

Of course there is, and therein my frustration lies. I know there is a great deal more that I am completely missing out on by being distracted by the societal mandates that have somehow managed to replace aspects of my very nature.

Is this what is meant by "selling out"? Have I indeed sold out to the highest bidder, a life of comfort, my every breath wasted in the struggle to prepare for a tomorrow that may never come?

How much of the responsibility I place upon my shoulders is merely a means of distraction?

silence

I'm so hesitant to say anything. The words tumble over one another in my mind, causing me to stumble and falter.

There are so many things I want to say, but I'm afraid of the impact they'll have. So many fears I want to share, yet I no longer have that right.

It's not fair for me to burden the heart of another with the jumble of fears and emotions that cripple mine.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

worry

I need to quit putting it off and go see my family doctor and re-schedule the CT scan I've been avoiding for 6 months. He's gotten insistent, refusing to refill my Zoloft until I come in. I know he's right, and even more important, I know I won't really feel as though I know anything until I have the CT done.

I suppose knowing for certain will be much better than sitting here wondering, but I'd much prefer to simply hide in my bed.

stuck

Two years ago, after standing toe to toe on an ethical issue, the senator told me not to allow myself to get stuck here.

I went to him yesterday, confiding that I was terrified I had indeed become stuck, bound tightly by an overwhelming sense of responsibility and a body that has turned against me. The weight of it all is crushing and his inability to offer a viable solution only added to that load, but his steadfast belief in my ability to overcome the obstacles and free myself left me with a glimmer of hope.

It would've been much more reassuring if his voice hadn't been choked with tears.

want

I stare at a blank page, the silence deafening, the air thick with the weight of so many words left unsaid.

My heart is heavy with thoughts of him. His face, his voice, his words — they haunt my dreams. He reaches out to me, through the darkness, across the miles, but I recoil in fear. The old familiar emotions come crashing in, knocking me to my knees, reminding me of all that I am and all I used to be.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

duality

Hmmm...perhaps I've had it all wrong.

It may very well be possible that these two opposing forces within me may not be the result of human duality after all.

You see, I've always believed that there was a certain duality to the human psyche, the very nature of the soul, if you will. I struggle to strike a balance between my desire for stability and my urge for spontaneity; my longing for passion and fear of the flame it ignites; my craving for companionship while seeking solitude; my drive for greatness and my utter lack of willpower.

I had once thought the polarity of the natures of which I was created caused that inner rift. I'm still quite certain that to be the case.

However, I wonder if the divergent directions my being tugs me in are more the result of outside forces than inner. How many aspirations emanate from within and how many are the products of conditioning and the expectations of others?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

adrift

Floating adrift on this sea of change.

My mind continues to tumble over that single line. It seems as though someone should have already penned a line so telling, so I hesitate to follow it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

what am I so afraid of?

I suppose the better question would be what am I not afraid of?

Am I afraid of this all encompassing, "follow you off the edge of the world" feeling? Of course. I've had it and lost it before. I am terrified of risking that again.

Am I afraid of making the wrong decision? Certainly. A lot hinges on my ability to do the right thing and I'm no longer even certain what that is.

Am I afraid of losing my sense of security? Yes. I've come to value security a great deal and no longer find myself in a position to throw caution to the winds.

I am afraid to breathe, to move a muscle. So instead I hide until some of that fear subsides.

maslow huh?

I will forever hear my mother's voice, "you're never going to be happy because nothing is ever good enough for you."

She has always accused me of having some great, master plan and that I was capable and willing of walking over anyone who stood in the way.

"It's not really love if you're willing to walk away."

I had this talk with her, not so very long ago, during a time in which she was expressing admiration for my independence, for the fact that I was capable of holding everything together so well. She said she really respected the way I was able to stand up for myself. Momma had woken up, not long before that conversation and realized she was still not happy and had decided she was going to make herself happy. But she wasn't sure she could and "It's not really love if you're willing to walk away."

I've held my tongue so much over the years, but I finally did explain that one reason it is so easy for me to walk away is because I watched her stand there and allow my father to treat her like shit and practically destroy her, all in the name of love. And I swore that I would never allow anyone, especially a man, do that to me — love be damned!

During the same time period I told my daddy I was really disappointed that he was becoming a crotchety old man instead of the cool old guy I'd held out hope for. I also told him that being born an asshole was no excuse not to try to be something a little better. A buddy of his got hurt pretty bad at work one night, could've been killed.

One day Daddy wakes up, decides he's been an asshole to his wife for 32 years and he needs to be nicer to her. Oh and don't worry "Who knows, maybe one day I'll even start being nice to other people, but I've got to start with your momma."

*Rolls eyes*

Does knowing what I want out of life, out of my life, constitute a master plan? Goals and objectives, hopes and dreams. They seem to me almost necessary to consider ourselves human.

Maybe old Maslow is right and I'm well on my way. Or maybe mothers really do know their children better than anyone else possibly could and I'm just a heatless bitch.

I will always kick myself for not beating her ass when I had the chance.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

searching for reason

They say that there is a reason for everything...more specifically that God brings certain people and events into our lives for a reason, although we may not grasp that reasoning at the time, or even ever.

I can't help but wonder, as I watch it all pour across the table whether or not that in itself was one of many "reasons"....I question God's role for me and pray that He knows what He's doing and will allow me to know what it is I am supposed to be doing.

not "by" but "of" God

I am sure the viewpoint would be considered naive, at best, by many, but not only do I firmly believe there is a God, I am also of the conviction that we are not "by" God, but "of" God.

It may seem as merely a trivial disparity but this notion played a major role in my understanding and is fundamental to the very foundation of my belief system.

Once I accepted that we are not "by" God, but "of" God, I became increasingly aware of the "oneness" we all share. It soon became difficult to look at things through the lenses of mortality, time and space, believing as I do, in immortality and the idea that we are, indeed, all "of" one, thereby, being all "of" one another.

telling photograph

The irony of it all occurred to me as I was getting in the car to head home.

I caught a glimpse of myself, sunburnt in a purple "cancer survivor" Relay for Life t-shirt, a cigarette hanging out of my mouth. I couldn't help but respond with a sadistic chuckle at the idea that the image would make for a very telling photograph.

The bad thing is that even after realizing it, I really didn't give a damn.

parallel universe

It wasn't until I saw him, sitting in my world, my home, that I realized how much he truly does resemble my first husband.

It was entirely too much...the coffee table, the boy, the drawing, the sound of the shower. Suddenly I was in a parallel universe. The sickening thought washed over me... as though I had reached into my own memory, pulling chunks into reality and was 18 again, with a second chance of getting it right, of being able to save him.

I was unable to convince myself of exactly who "him" was.

Suddenly it all seemed very wrong and once again, I seriously questioned my sanity.

Friday, June 15, 2007

decisions and circumstances

Some of the simplest questions can indeed be the most complicated, as our minds struggle to transform the surge of emotions into words.

It is during these times I turn off my mind — block out the noisy distractions of this state of being they call "living" — and sit, quietly, waiting to hear the definitive direction of God.

"Why?" (Be careful this is always a loaded question.)

"Follow your heart, it will not lead you astray," they tell you.

Hmm....did they clarify whether that meant follow your heart's desire OR follow what your heart tells you to be right?

I cannot accept that we may justify going against everything we know to be right simply because we are chasing the elusive desires of our heart. And I certainly cannot believe we are in any position to determine which ones we deserve to capture.

But I'm not yet certain how to explain that, except to say that man's self-gratification, self-actualization or anything else involving the notion of "self" can never take precedence over what he knows to be fundamentally right.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

birthdays

"Listen to the cry of a woman in labor at the hour of giving birth - look at the dying man's struggle at his last extremity, and then tell me whether something that begins and ends thus could be intended for enjoyment.
-Soren Kierkegaard

So the boy's birthday is Tuesday. He finishes elementary school tomorrow.

Tonight at least, it seems as though a very long time has passed since we brought him into this world.

I'm leaving him a note in the morning, just to thank him for being such a good friend.

I wonder if every parent questions the cruelty of bringing a child into this world. I believe it's likely.

By eleven the boy has figured out that, for the most part, people suck.

At least he still believes that he and his momma suck a little less than most.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

drained

I'm absolutely exhausted and not even in a satisfied kind of way.

(Yes, that is possible...you know exactly what I'm talking about.)

I don't necessarily mind being completely worn-out when I've gained some sense of satisfaction out of it — collapsing on the couch after a day filled with a flurry of productive activity, soaking in a warm bath to ease the aching of my muscles after a good workout, or (my personal favorite) sinking into the sheets, completely spent after an intense lovemaking session.

But this? There's absolutely nothing satisfying about it. In fact, at the moment, I cannot think of a single redeeming quality of this particular brand of weariness. Like a dog chasing its tail, I seem to have exhausted myself in a futile quest for answers to riddles that, by their very nature, leave no room for resolution.

And it has all been compounded by outside forces who seem hell-bent on ripping away the last remaining vestige of my sanity.

So now here I am, completely drained, too zapped to even be angry at the circumstances (and dipshits) who rendered me lethargic and too fucking tired for rest.

Monday, June 4, 2007

what i want

I wish it were easier for us all to maintain our focus…..the ability to see beyond our limited, preconceived notions to the sheer beauty of this life. I wish it didn’t take tears to illuminate that beauty and that those same tears wouldn’t always blur my glimpses of purity.

I want those I love to know all that I am and love me anyway.

I want to stand in judgment of myself and not continually find myself lacking.

I want to know my existence has some relevance in this infinite universe and that it is not just my ego that leaves me with that impression. I want to know I am fulfilling whatever purpose is mine.

I want to ease the suffering of others. I wish that desire was as selfless as it seems on the surface, but it pains me to see others injured and that anguish can almost be too much to bear. I often resent being asked to carry that cross, even while questioning my worthiness of the burden.

I want to regain the innocence I can’t remember ever having. I wish my heart were not so heavy, nor my soul so weary.

I want to understand the full depth of this life so that I may share the knowledge with others, sparing them the torturous journey of discovery, and yet I’d hate to deprive them of those exhilarating “aha” moments when, if only for a short time, it all becomes clear.

I want all my relationships to be pure and heartfelt, a sharing of souls, not just a product of societal mandates.

I want to drown the incessant noise and be left alone with my thoughts, my prayers and my loves.

I want to know that this nagging, insatiable emptiness will be filled.

Damn, I sure do want a lot! Maybe I really am asking too much.

Oh and did I mention that I really wish I could forgive myself for wanting more when I ought to just be grateful for what I have?

Sunday, June 3, 2007

apple blossoms


I suppose it should come as no surprise to me that apple blossoms represent promises of better things to come. And it's sure to be pure coincidence that every spring I watched from my window, longing to leave that place, as the old apple tree in the back yard erupted in blooms.

It never fails to amaze me that such seemingly simple things can become such immense sources of strength.

I believe it will be the thought of sharing stories beneath the apple blossoms that will carry me through the day.

angry words for God

Ok, yes, I think I've moved into the "angry" stage of coping with this crap.

I went through "shock" and then seemed to spend an eternity in "denial". I refused to use the word cancer and had a very difficult time seeing myself as a cancer patient, even when sitting in an oncologist's office. From there I went straight to "bargaining" where I offered you a few deals to let the first surgery work and when that didn't work found myself deep in the throes of "depression".

And now, I'm damn near enraged.

What in the hell kind of shit is this? I know that no one ever promised life would be fair, and I know there's plenty of people out here a whole lot worse off than me, so I know I should be grateful, but you've got to be kidding me! How much can one human being be expected to take and what in the hell did I do to deserve this much of it?

I mean come one, give me a break! If you're going to smack me with cancer can't you at least give me the dignity of some sort of mundane, socially acceptable cancer? But no! Instead you throw some sort of fucked up crotch cancer my way that I can't even discuss in polite conversation!

Ok, so you wanted to prove to me I wasn't in control...I got it!

They say you have your reasons for everything you do, and I'm trying really hard to be respectful of your motivations even if I don't understand them, but you know, this is the kind of shit that makes people think of you more as a devious little prankster who enjoys messing with people than an omnipotent, benevolent being.

who determines "fair"?

I can't help but throw myself a bit of a pity party.

It just all seems so fucking unfair!

Damn, a hysterectomy at the age of 26 was enough to make me feel pretty damn shitty about my womanhood, but this? This is just too much.

It seems so wrong to even consider allowing someone else into my life. I simply don't feel as though I have much left to offer and worry that what little do have will be robbed from me within a few years.

How unfair to ask anyone else to be a part of this! "Alrighty then, just so you know, I can't have kids...I have a potentially life-threatening condition that will probably bankrupt us, not to mention shorten my life span and oh, by the way, have I mentioned I've been mutilated and will most likely end up having my womanhood chopped away piece by piece until I lose all functionality?"

Talk about unfair! How in the hell can that ever be considered fair by anyone's "batshit insane" standards?

working on it

There have been a lot of "coincidences" in my life lately, not the least of which being the fact I received my cancer diagnosis just before last year's Relay for Life. So this weekend, a year later, after quite a bit of arm-twisting by some well-meaning friends, I walked the Survivor's Lap, my son by my side. My name had already been put out there in the form of a luminary among the hundreds, which lined the track around the football field, and it seemed very important to my son that we take the lap. A friend pointed out that it probably allowed him to feel as though he was doing something to help.

I still think it's a load of shit.

Survivor? Ha! I'm sorry, but don't you have to beat the shit to be considered a survivor?

I've kept fairly silent about my condition so although I have a fairly high profile position in my community, very few people were aware of what's been going on. "Oh my, I didn't know you were a survivor," many of them commented.

"Working on it," I responded vaguely.

A few of them ventured to ask about the specific form of cancer I was trying to "survive". I couldn't help but laugh inwardly at their embarrassment when I answered "vulvar".

"Yea, who knew that was possible," I'd exclaim with a laugh.

I think that bothers me as much as anything, the simple fact that this is one of those rare, silent conditions that no one knows about and even fewer people talk about. It's not as though vulvar cancer is appropriate dinner conversation and I've yet to see a public service announcement urging women to perform self-examinations of their crotch on a regular basis. Even now, with all the media hype surrounding the new HPV vaccine, "vulvar cancer" still isn't a phrase used very often.

Hell, even the doctors avoid it. There are a couple of those I'd like to smack too. You'd think that in ten years, SOMEONE would have thought to have mentioned the possibility to me or even (*gasp*) taken a biopsy of the area to be on the safe side.

Hell, even after the initial diagnosis, I've had to insist on "standard testing procedures" to ensure that the doctors were covering all the bases. What the hell? I should really start getting a discount for having to do part of their job, an important part might I add. Hell, the first oncologist, who doubled as the first surgeon, didn't even bother to fully explain the procedure to me. Good thing I'd gone to the ACS website, otherwise I'd have been completely unprepared for what I found when I awoke from surgery.

"Well tell me this, will I walk out of here normal," I remember asking after growing frustrated with her vague answers using phrases such as wide-local excision and laser ablation.

Hmph! Apparently her idea of normal is quite different than mine. Time for a new doctor, one that doesn't consider chopping off someone's labia minor without warning them "normal"!

And now I've been labeled as a "survivor". I just hope we're sitting at the dinner table when they ask what sort of treatment I'm undergoing! No need for me to be the only one embarrassed.

(Interesting note: according to spell check, “vulvar” isn’t even a word, it wants to change it to “vulgar”! Haha, how utterly appropriate!)