Thank you

Thank you to all the people who have shown me kindness, especially in the past two years.

The last two years were the darkest time in my life.  I made it out.  You helped.

If you made me smile, even once, you helped.

If you sent me a note telling me you loved me, you helped.

If you gave me a hug, you helped.

If you posted a note on Facebook or sent me a link to read, you helped.

If you came and sat with me, read with me, talked with me, you helped.

I am thankful for each and every moment of kindness you gave me.

I am thankful for your love.

It is doubtful I would have made it out of the darkness without all of you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Now I am invisible.

My family went to Yellowstone for Christmas two years ago.  My son, then four, went with me to get long underwear.  It can fall well below zero at Yellowstone in the winter and though we had down coats and solid shoes, I wanted long underwear for my little ones.

When we arrived at the store the only pair they had in his size were bright pink.  I turned to him.

Look at this happy color! Won’t these be nice?

I half expected there to be a problem or some scoffing comment about girl colors.  He had never been really particular about colors before, but like all children, he could be particular when it was the most inconvenient for you.  However, this time he was thrilled.

I love pink!! I can’t wait to wear these! He clutched the package to his chest and ran toward the register. Bemused, I followed.

That night he wanted to wear them. I told him he had to wait until we got to Yellowstone.  He kept peeking into the luggage to stroke the bright pink long johns.

We arrived in Jackson, WY and found our way to a hotel.  When we got to the room the very first question out of his mouth was Can I wear them yet?

Yes.  Giving in I unpacked them and handed them to a young man who was literally bouncing on the balls of his feet in excitement.  He ran into the bathroom to change.

A few minutes later he came out covered neck to ankle in bright pink.

I am all over pink! Now I am invisible! You cannot see me!! He chortled mightily as he ran around being invisible, greatly enjoying the laughter his enjoyment caused the family.

Pink, apparently, is the color of invisibility and pink long johns are the equivalent to an invisibility cloak.  He wore the heck out of those things, thoroughly convinced that he was invisible each and every time.

The tick-tick-ticking of the clock…

In two months it will have been a year since my hysterectomy.

I try so hard not to let January 6th, 2014 have any monumental significance.  I have read that it takes about a year to feel normal again, my doctor has told me it can take up to a year to heal.  When a year was seven, six, five months away it was a reassuring thing to tell myself.

You aren’t back to where you were, but it’s okay, they said it can take up to a year.

Now that a year is two months away I stare at my swelly belly and wonder;

What if I am not better after a year?

So much has happened this year that I haven’t had time to deal with my sense of grief, my anger, my loss.  I feel like the whole world has moved on and I am just now finally feeling it.

I am deeply sad.  I am ragingly angry.  Nothing about having a hysterectomy before I was ready to be done having children is ever going to be okay.  This will always be a pang I feel.  I feel as though so much of me was literally ripped out and tossed away and somehow I am supposed to go on as though I am normal.  Somehow I am supposed to reach a point where I have healed.

This was the hardest part of my life and it was overshadowed by marital strife and relationship drama.  It was the experience that cemented in my own mind that sometimes it doesn’t matter what you try to do about it, things will suck.  You can work as hard as you can, harder even, and the world will keep on moving while you fall apart.  I lost my home, my friend group, my intact family.  Those are the things people saw, commented on, dealt with.  But I lost so much more.  I lost my fertility.  I went to bed a 37 year old woman and woke up in menopause.  I can build a new home, I can make one with my family, I can work on my friendships.  I will never get that back.  It is gone forever.

Motherhood is the only thing that has ever come naturally to me.  It is the only thing I have ever felt truly amazing at.  I grow strong, intelligent, beautiful children and I am a wonderful mother.

Except now I can’t grow strong beautiful intelligent children.  And please don’t tell me I already have two so it’s okay.  It’s not. It never will be.  I can be a wonderful mother to the children I have, but that doesn’t take away the pain from not ever being able to even think of having more.

I have had my heart broken before.  I have had it torn out of me by death, divorce, anger, violence, and more.  It always healed.  Now I doubt it will.

The clock ticks away the minutes toward the end of my first year without a reproductive system.  It ticks away toward physical health.  It ticks away to a new period in my life, a time of health and happiness.  Each ticking second carries with it increasing expectations.  From my family, my friends, and from me.  Everyone, including me, is waiting for the healing to end.

The thing is, it won’t.  I am forever scarred by this, forever changed.  The year will roll around and my core muscles may be strong again, I may be able to run and box and chase my kids.  I may feel better than I have in years, but it won’t be me.  I have had to let go of the 37 year old woman who went into surgery on January 6, 2013.  For all intents and purposes, she died.  The person who emerged from that surgery has a lot of similarities to her, but she is not the same.

I don’t think I ever will be.

An open letter to my daughter.

My beautiful amazing young woman.  You are perfect, just as you are.  You are brave, smart, loving, fun, spontaneous, beautiful, and kind.  I am proud of you.  I love you.

I am terrified for you.

You are turning into a woman.  You will soon have more and more freedom in your life, and while I know you are smart and thoughtful and will do your best to make good choices, I also know you are kind and generous, and may be mislead by the people in your life.

I know that the world holds opportunities and pitfalls, heroes and villians, teddy bears and monsters.

I can no longer protect you from life.  I cannot wrap you in my arms and make it go away with a kiss and a chocolate.  Now you begin to face the real world.  You will begin to see the harshness in addition to the beauty, the pain in addition to the joy.

Now the growing pains begin in earnest.

There is no way for me to stop you from embracing life and all the bruises that follow.  All I can do is promise you this:

I will speak openly and honestly with you about topics that embarrass us both so I may better fit you with appropriate weapons for your future battles.  I will not let discomfort prevent me from sharing with you the knowledge I gained from my own encounters.  I will hand down my armor in the clearest way possible.

I will keep the lines of communication open.  I will let you know that nothing you share with me will ever make me stop loving you, and I will reinforce the fact that there is nothing you can’t tell me.  Tell me anything, tell me everything.  I would rather know it all and be in a position to help you through it, than blindly fumble in the dark while you suffer.

I will not judge you.  I will worry about you.  I will work hard to make you understand the difference.  I will listen to your troubles and talk with you to help you make the decision that is best for who you are, not who I am.  If I get angry or sad about what you tell me, I will let you know the source of that anger or sorrow, and I will not let it get in the way of helping you. I will continue to love you and to listen.

The world is full of sharp and dangerous places.  I can’t stop you from wandering into them.  My parents couldn’t stop me.  All they could do was listen.  All anyone can do is provide you with a soft place to land when the sharpness cuts too deeply.

Let me be your soft landing place.  Let me be the place you run to heal.

I love you.

Ring theory, Practical Paleo, and issues of control.

Today one of my closest friends posted this wonderful article on “ring theory”.  It better describes what I was trying to say in my recent post “Losing my voice“.  It discusses creating a ring for a person suffering from illness, or trauma, and then adding progressive rings around it, with their family, friends, and caregivers in increasingly outer rings.  The idea is a way for people to provide help to those in lower rings and seek help from those in outer rings.  (Dump out, Comfort In.)  I think this analysis is beautiful, because it acknowledges the difficulties faced by all people in an ill person’s life.  They have the illness to contend with, the guilt caused by the effect that illness has on everyone in their lives, and often only enough energy to try to care for the people in their immediate circle, usually their partner and children.  The partner has the role of caring for the ill person and picking up the slack that person drops in caring for their finances, house, children, etc.  Further, the partner often has to deal with concerns of friends and family who don’t want to burden the ill person, but still want comfort.

The article is powerful to me because it acknowledges that seeking comfort when someone we care about is ill is important, but points out that seeking it from others who aren’t as close or closer to the ill person than you may be better for everyone.  I call it a must read.

Now onto other things…

This week I started the Paleo diet at the suggestion of a friend.  She was kind enough to send me a book, Practical Paleo, after reading my headache whiny posts and feeling for me.  This is exactly the type of help I welcome.  She not only showed me her love for me by thinking about me, but she provided me with the materials I needed to learn about controlling my own health issues using diet.  I have been too low on spoons to parent, work, exercise, and devote a lot of time to researching my own health issues.  I try to look into all the things my family and friends lovingly suggest, but usually when I get to the point of the day when I have the time, I lie down and go to sleep.

However, when Marie sent me the book, I didn’t have to do anything other than read it.  I placed it next to my bed, so when I awoke randomly in the middle of the night I could read it while I waited to fall back asleep.  By the end of the week I had read the philosophy behind the diet and I have to admit, it makes sense to me.  So I started the diet.

It’s day four.  I find it intriguing that I don’t have a headache now, and I haven’t had one for two days.  I am off all medications.

The author wrote something that really stuck with me.  She said that we all turn to medicine to solve our health issues, but we don’t realize that we control the majority of what we put in to our bodies, and therefore we control our health.  For the first time in years I feel like I am in control again.  I feel as though I have a choice in my own health, and that I am not simply going from doctor to doctor, diagnosis to diagnosis.

For the first time in years I have hope.