I feel grateful every day just to be above ground and be reasonably physically and mentally healthy. I have a great family. I have rebuilt bridges. I have strengthened old relationships and built new ones. I am attempting to take even better care of myself and make myself a priority. I have made myself a mission of positivity that I attempt to fulfill at least once a day, no matter how small the triumph.
Wow! It seems like a lot of work doesn’t it? Frankly, it is, but so Worth IT! There are days when I get tired and don’t feel like putting in an effort. That’s when I have to stop and remember where I was even a year or two ago: somewhat depressed, frustrated, lonely despite people surrounding me, full of cancer trying to take my life, not able to work like I wanted to help support my family, mentally swirling with guilt and self-induced feelings of failure.
I have come a long way since then, but in order to keep my current path intact, I need to keep in mind where I came from and the lessons it taught me. I learned that no one can fully heal all of me but me. No one can really help assure my future without my help and driving force. I need to be mindful and grateful of the “good days” even if thrybaten’t as frequent as I would like. I learned that there isn’t always a tommorow, so I better make damn sure that today is the best I can muster. Nobody can do that for me. I’ve got to care enough to do it myself.
The last couple of years have been really hard. My children were sick. We have all been “living” with a pandemic raging around us. I battled cancer. My husband tried to die from a heart attack. The list goes on. I know I know. You all know this already. Despite all this, I have continued to make it my mission to be a beacon of positivity unlike the planet has ever known. I am constantly in search of the bright side or the retrieval of the positive, no matter how small a portion it is. I get signs from the universe all the time that this is what I am supposed to do. I have had complete strangers reach out to me for help and guidance, which I love and I am happy to give. That is truly me in my element: helping people. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
So, I have spent all this time being tough and positive…still am. However, I find myself struggling a bit lately. It’s all fun and games when everything is going my way, so to speak. But, I have noticed sometimes, that when something doesn’t, it kind of crushes me for a hot minute before I can get a hold of myself. I start resenting and complaining, or freaking out all together. This kind of reaction is somewhat foreign to me and I find myself saying “Whoa Katz. Get a grip why don’t ya? You have been through way worse shit than this for chrissake!” ” You are alive! Does anything else really matter?” Most of the time that works, but I find myself having to do it more and more often lately and that bothers me.
Part of me realizes that there is an element of PTSD circulating around my brain with my serotonin, trying to convince me that there is only a matter of time before another shoe drops. It insidiously permeates my life still, forcing unreasonable reactions and fears. It is pretty par for the course after what I have been through. I think that my goal for now is to stop trying to push it away and acknowledge it and deal with it. I think that by trying to suppress it, I am actually giving the PTSD more power than it already has. I assure you that I have been taking all the outward steps: showing up to counselling, reading about it, talking to myself like I said, nodding when my therapist explains it to me. But, I really haven’t been doing the internal work. I have been so busy pushing forward toward my happiness mission that I haven’t really allowed myself time to recover or react.
This really smacked me in the face last Friday. I went for my routine mammogram. Some of the same techs were there that were with me last year when all my cancer stuff was ramping up. I got my mammogram done and those 45 angle views really pulled at my lymphedema on the side of my neck and it started to throb and hurt. Everybody did everything right..and I should have expected this to happen and prepared, but I didn’t. Instead, I laughed it off at the moment and went upstairs to my office, only to start bawling my head off in a flood of cancer memories the moment my MA asked me if I was alright. I just couldn’t stop. One memory/flashback after another started just flooding me over and over. I actually had to leave the office and felt really guilty doing it on top of it. I knew I just couldn’t be my best self for patients though. I literally cried half the day as I reexperienced everything from the whole last year all over again. Sheesh.
My point is, that I really have missed the boat on recovery and reaction somewhat. The strategy I thought was helping me “not to wallow” was actually preventing me from processing what was going on with me. I pushed it down and just kept pushing forward instead. By not allowing myself the time to really go through things…..while I was going through things…..I didn’t really do myself any good. Sure, I got through my cancer experience and survived. That is definitely a win. But, I bottled so much stuff up that now it bubbles over when I don’t expect it. That’s no good either.
The bottom line is that I am very grateful to be a survivor and I love helping others survive whatever they are going through, life-threatening or not. But, in order to truly survive and thrive on top of that, I have to allow myself to process and react to experiences when I have them. I need to not punish myself or second guess reactions and just….have them. I have to realize that, no matter how tough I am, I am still human. I need to give myself the same consideration and time that I give to everyone else. I promise that I’ll work on it.