Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat.

With the exception of my previous post, I hadn’t posted in a month and a half. I don’t normally make a point of addressing my laziness. I usually just post and hope nobody notices. I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been busy living a fabulously glamorous life and have been too busy to sit down let alone create, but sadly, the opposite is true. I have had plenty of time, just not the drive. To say things have been rough would be understating things.

And why? Well that depends on the day. Post-cancer (post-op to be specific) I’ve noticed it’s like that – a very fine balance of all the things that can be brought crashing down with one minor shift in the universe. When people ask what’s wrong I say ‘everything’ because that’s how it feels.

Most of the time it’s rational. Sometimes it’s completely irrational. Other times I’m aware it borders on depression but also falls under the banner of trauma (thanks cancer).

Sometimes it’s just one thing that bothers me, other times it feels like everything and other times I’ve got absolutely no idea why I feel how I feel or why I’m being as difficult as I am. It’s great fun for Naomi to navigate.

Earlier in the year, my bad thoughts centred around cancer. Why me? Why now? What did I do to deserve it? How long would it take to recover? At other times the focus has been on mortality. More recently it’s the superficial stuff. Well, the stuff that B.C I would have called superficial stuff.

My appearance has bothered me a lot lately. Realistically I don’t look that much different to what I used to look like. But my skin has a different texture to it now and my body is more asymmetrical than it used to be, which I thought was totally impossible. The other day I considered chopping off all my hair because my hair is what (I think) went a long way to any attractiveness I had and now, my hair is just ick. It doesn’t sit right, it’s a different colour, it’s too thin. Every time I make an attempt to make it look nice I’m reminded about all the things that caused it to be this way and I want it gone.

There is also a sense of loss around the biggest lie I used to tell myself. That I would lose weight ‘in the future’. The future: a mythical place filled with good intentions and high expectations. ‘In the future’ I would take control of my health and be fit and healthy and smack bang in the middle of my BMI range. When I first started going for walks after coming home from hospital I would daydream of competing in marathons.

It’s not that I can’t do any of that now. It’s just that B.C it was like I thought the Fat Fairy would tap me on the shoulder one night and endow me with the motivation and abilities I needed to succeed. Now I have to face the fact that even if there is a Fat Fairy (and part of me still holds on to that fairy tale), I’ve probably got less time to be found. The reality is that if I want things to change now, I have to make it happen. I’ve never been very good at that.

And that is where all my thoughts become issues. I have to make things happen.

A few months ago I was speaking to my psychologist about all the things I was having trouble processing and she told me I had to think about how I wanted to live in the time I had (because at that stage I was consumed by the fact that I no longer had any concept of how long my future was). It didn’t matter if I had three months, three years or three decades, how did I want to live my life each day.

On paper, it seems so easy. In reality my choices have consequences and the thought of changing anything brings with it a set of ‘what-ifs’ that cripple me and render me entirely incapable of making a decision.

You see, somehow, I’ve always landed on my feet. No matter what has happened, whether I made a bad decision or something bad happened out of the blue, things have worked out. Naomi calls me a cat, always landing on my feet. We steer clear of the nine lives talk though – I could be treading dangerously close to that one.

While everything has always worked out, it was more by luck than good design. I’ve never been good at making goals so I never really had to work towards anything. There was very little possibility for specific success or failure just do or do not. (Very Yoda, I know.) Never mind the existential crisis it leads me to!

It’s a crisis Naomi and I are both familiar with now. The never ending ‘what-ifs’ I ask every time we discuss the future. What if we change things up, take a leap, do something fantastic? What if it doesn’t work out? What if we have no money and can’t find work? What if the foster agency doesn’t like it? What if we take a leap and do something fantastic and the cancer comes back? What if we get our hopes up and make big plans only to have them shot down again? How long do we have to do these things? Between debt and responsibility and expenses how do we do something different while we repair the debt of our past? And the big one that has pervaded every aspect of my decision-making (for a much longer period of time than I’d care to admit) what if I try and fail?

Now that the certainty of a long life that we all assume we’ll be gifted has been taken from me, I want certainty in other places; a security blanket I can carry through life to give me the courage to do the things I want to. The security before was that there was time to fix things if we took a wrong step. We were only in our 30s, we had years to re-group and reassess. But that security blankey was damaged in the wash and now I need a new one.

It is all these answerless questions that, every now and then, send me into a spin and make it hard to make even the most simple decisions. I want concrete answers where none exist. My only way forward is to take a few steps and see where it leads. Some will lead to great things and others not so great. I can blame cancer for making it hard but it is simply life. Beautiful, breathtaking, heartbreaking and surprising life.

Right now I’m in a good place thanks to an understanding family, understanding friends and my excellent psychologist. Just in time too because this morning my little family are jetting off on our first overseas holiday as a family. It is my first time overseas since going to Bali eight years ago. It will be just the right thing to remind me to keep making things happen! 

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