Friday was a better day. I woke up a little steadier. That helped. What really helped, though, ironically to me considering how unsteady I felt on Thursday, was going to work. I had to attend an institute for PreAP/AP teachers, and I was supposed to be a presenter at the institute. Earlier in the week, I emailed the organizer to tell her I didn’t think I could do the presentation, but when I arrived on Friday, she told me she had not seen that email, had already talked to the team I was presenting with, and everyone knew and understood I was less than three weeks out from major surgery. She wanted me in the room as support, to offer my experience, and to represent my school. Her unshakable faith in me helped me find some steady.
During the afternoon session of the institute, I finally wrapped my head around how I want to teach my AP English class this year. I’ve been mulling some ideas over for most of the summer, but I couldn’t make it make sense. I had the opportunity to sit down with two colleagues from other schools and talk through my ideas with them. They helped me fine tune my ideas, which allowed me to sketch out the year. I already had my overarching question for the year. They helped me see how to make everything flow together. Their helpfulness helped me find some steady.
After the institute, I talked to a friend, who also happens to be a coworker, whose wife is a breast cancer survivor. She’s a dozen years out. He let me talk, just talk, about how hard it’s been anticipating the helliversaries and the coming (hopefully) end of treatment. He listened. Then, he talked to me about his wife, and he validated some of my feelings and fears. And, he reminded me, the only story that is mine…is mine. He echoed what A has told me countless times over the last year: Other people’s stories are not my story. I have to fight against putting myself in their shoes, no matter how much I empathize. His kindness and insight helped me find some steady.
I spent this weekend doing normal back-to-school stuff. My mom, S, AJ, and I went back-to-school clothes shopping. I swear, S grew two inches this summer. She’s nearly as tall as me, she’s taller than A’s mom now, and she’s taller than her best friend again. They’re both tall, and they’re usually equal or almost equal to each other in height, but not right now. She needed some new pants and new sneakers. AJ needed new sneakers, but up until today, he’s refused to learn how to tie shoes. We did everything we could think of to teach him, but nothing worked until today. Small victory, but he learned how to do it, and he proudly selected a pair of tie up sneakers. He’s so excited. Just being a normal mom helped me find some steady.
I’ve been hesitant to buy any clothes because I really don’t know what sizes I wear anymore, especially after the DIEP. We went to one of my favorite clothing stores, and they had some things I just couldn’t resist trying on. I walked out with three pairs of pants for work or weekend, another maxi dress, two shirts, a necklace, a pair of earrings, and a headband. I know…I indulged. A lot. But, for the first time in a long time, I put on clothes and loved the way I looked. I felt pretty. It’s been a long time since I felt that way. I wasn’t self-conscious…well, not entirely. The scars on my foobs showed through one shirt, or they did to me, but I still bought the shirt. I can cover it up. A scarf. A cardigan. It didn’t bother me that much because I felt so good about the way I looked. Feeling normal helped me find some steady.
I still tire out quicker than I want. I still cry more than I want. I still doubt more than I want. But, I do not feel helplessness and am not as unsteady as I was. That matters.
When all this began, a very good friend gave me some advice she told me she once gave her teenage son-some days, there may not be much, but something has to be enough. There’s something that you can look at and say, “For today, that matters. That’s enough.”
So, find some steady in some areas of my life, that matters. For today, that’s enough.