Nearing the Two Year Mark

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. That’s not to say it’s been that long since I’ve written though. This is currently my 18th attempt at successfully hitting that pesky little ‘publish’ button. But as I inch closer to the my two year sober anniversary I would really like to talk things through with you all. Perhaps this time, you’ll actually get to read it.

I can’t really pin down one particular reason for my trepidation in allowing my thoughts to be shared as of late. It’s a cluster of things really. One cluster being the ever present darkness of my depression and anxiety that, yes, still reside under my table. They are the nippy little animal that you keep trying to gently push away, again and again until they get fed up with being ignored and take a solid bite out of your ankle. My ankle has bled more than a few times, and each time, I patch it up, put a cute unicorn sock over it, and get back to things. I suppose I have been worried that if I expressed the fact that dark days are still part of my world, it would make me sound ungrateful for all the good that has come into my life over the last few months. With every bit of my heart, I hope never to come across as ungrateful. Ever. As I’m being honest about the demons that still join in my days, please know that in no way does it take away from all the gratitude I feel for where my life is now. Another major reason for the absence of posts is the fact that I can’t actually stop time from moving forward. (For those of you who have always loved television and are old enough to remember, you’ll get this next reference. For everyone else, hooray for Google.) What I wouldn’t give to have the powers Evie had. Just touch my two index fingers together and stop the world from turning. Everybody but me, frozen in time. Wouldn’t it be a treat to give yourself a few extra un-interrupted hours in your day? I know the majority of you feel the same way, so, instead of complaining on about how much time I don’t have, I’ll just get on with it.

Things I have learned in the past 9 or so months:

  • Being my true self, even in the workplace, is ok. As long as I don’t lose control.
  • Doing honest, hard work pays off.
  • Taking the high road, also pays off.
  • Kids will grow up, move out, and only pop in every now and again, no matter how much ugly crying you do…and that’s ok.
  • Dermatologists provide a useful service. Everyone should probably find a good one, and get checked now and again.

I’ll ‘Readers’s Digest’ you all through some of the things that taught me these lessons, beginning with the last one.

A few months ago, after having finally dealt with the basel cell cancer that was found on my back, it was discovered I also had a malignant melanoma on my chest. In classic Jen fashion, the face I put on to the outside world was that this wasn’t a big deal. Sure, everyone who knows me is aware of the anxiety that comes from the simple act of making a doctor’s appointment, and that needles bring me close to cardiac arrest, but I don’t think I let on the emotional turmoil this diagnosis was causing me. I wasn’t afraid of it killing me, it’s the easiest cancer to cure and we caught it early. What bothered me was the fact that in my mind, I had once again become a burden to those around me. As I type these words, somewhere, my therapist is screaming at me. Reminding me of all the things she has tried to help me realize. ‘You are not a burden, they love you!’ ‘Let people care for you, they want to!’ ‘You would want to care for them and worry about their health, right? Why can’t they do the same for you?’ Etc.etc… I do realize all of these things. I have worked hard to do so. They are all truths. But all these truths I keep learning are having a hard time not getting trampled by the stampede that is my guilt. These newly discovered truths are still just little ladies, trying to hold on, trying to grow and become strong enough, quick enough and aware enough to stand up and hold a halting hand whenever the thunderous group of guilt beasts come running. I understand these will never get strong enough to make a stand without my awareness and attention. Realizing when I need to sit back and allow people to feel how they are going to feel without apologizing because ‘it’s my fault’ is hard for me. Maybe next cancer, eh? 😉 The fact is, that we got it all taken care of, I had the surgery to remove the melanoma and the results were clean and clear. Now, I’ll make a few appointments with my therapist to focus on why the scars left behind on my body are bothering me as much as they are. Didn’t ever think of myself as a vain person, but these are truly, the ugliest things. They dig into my brain every time I look in a mirror. I’ll let you know what gems those therapy appointments uncover. Should be fun. My gratitude for the nurses, doctors, scientists who got us to this point with cancer treatment, family, work family and friends for the concern and love I struggle so much to accept, is overwhelming. That guilty stampede could never be strong enough to trample my gratitude for each and every person that cares.

The next one is pretty self explanatory. Yes, it was hard to walk up and see my oldest’s empty room after he informed us he was moving out, but the pride that came from knowing we’d given him enough tools to start building a life of his own aided in wiping the tears away. He has experienced a lot of hard life lessons and come out with a good number of marks in the 19 short years he has inhabited this planet. Some were self-inflicted wounds from his tussle with reality, but some where simply life, reminding him that he can’t always necessarily pick which battles he will face. He does, however, possess all the power in the world in choosing when to throw a punch, and when to save his strength for a more worthy opponent. He has done such a good job of taking these lessons, growing from them, and building a ship with the materials they have left him, instead of allowing himself to be swept away or drowned by them. So, as hard as it is for any parent to step back and allow their kid to take on the world without them standing right there, it’s a beautiful thing to watch them blossom. Plus, I’m pretty sure we talk to him more now than we did when he lived here, so, it’s ok.

Without going into too much detail as to how I learned the last/first three on my list, I’ll say this: By taking the high road and not sinking to a level of dirty, nasty, vindictive, downright mean behavior in order to win; By staying true to my beliefs and being my true self in all my work dealings even when it seemed the before mentioned behavior of others were getting more attention; By showing that, a sometimes outwardly emotional individual can still get the job done right, I earned the position of facilities manager in the amazing company I work for. The months leading up to that promotion housed some of the hardest moments in my life. I am incredibly grateful to work for people who see past all the bullshit and recognize right from wrong. I count my blessings every day and now that the dust has settled, I feel like I can breathe deep, cleansing breaths in my workplace. It feels as though I spent a good amount of time, knee deep in thick, cement-like mud. Struggling with all my might to put one foot in front of the other and reach the other side. More than once, I was caught off guard by a huge sinkhole, ending up chin deep in the goop. Those were the days when therapy, trusted friends, and my husband were subject to my tears and frustrations. Those were also the days that without their encouragement, love, support and strength, I couldn’t have been able to, and probably wouldn’t have wanted to, pull myself out and keep going. They were my rope, my saviors. Every time I think of how much they helped me through this, by chest burns with gratitude. Though this was the closest I have ever come to contacting an HR representative for help, I can honestly say I am thankful for all of it and I am stronger because of it. I learned more in those short months than many people do in years. So much growth came out of that, I can be nothing but grateful.

One more thing I’ve re-learned while actually finishing a post, is that I need to do this more often. I will make a promise to myself, and to anyone reading this, that these will move toward the more frequent end of the scale and we will be together again, shortly.

Oh, and just to reiterate this fact, because I am both proud of it, and, honestly, a bit shocked by it….all these things I’ve learned as of late, I’ve done so in complete sobriety.

Thank you for spending some time with me. Thank you for your love, your support, your encouragement and your light. Please know that I whole-heartedly give it right back to you! If you are reading this in a time of heartache or struggle and you aren’t sure you can keep moving forward, please remember, you are not moving forward alone. You have an unseen army at your side, walking with you, cheering you on, ready to help you fight. It’s up to you to look around, speak up, and allow them to help.

I’m sending you all love and hope. It’s what we all need.

2 comments

  1. So very, very proud of you! Some of the things you have been through I share with you and understand fully, like your children moving on and out of your house. Much I have not, and stand back and marvel at how you have handled them, and continue to handle them. You continue to amaze me with your courage, strength, and optimistic attitude! You are an example to me, and I grateful every day that you have been a part of my life since you came into it, and that you STILL ARE a part of my life! I love you VERY MUCH!

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