I broke down in tears yesterday right before I prepped dinner. I’m pretty good at hiding my tears, or I try to be. I don’t want to worry S or AJ or A. The thing is, though, I’ve been worrying A for weeks. He knows I’m worked up about my upcoming five month check up. He’s not unobservant. It’s his insight, his ability to see the trees and the forest, and his compassion that make him so good at his job and with relationships, which he has to be for his job, too. Building strong, productive relationships is a huge part of his job. It’s not something he takes lightly at work or at home.
He doesn’t tolerate me being down for long. He wants to fix it, to fix me, yet there is no fix.
When he realized I was crying, he followed me into our bedroom, sat down beside me, and asked, “When do you see Dr. O?”
“June 20th at 1:00.”
“So, nine days. You want to be miserable for nine days, there’s nothing I can do about that. It’s your choice. What I can tell you is what I’ve told you for years -when all you do is fret over the future, you steal the joy from now, and you’ll never get now back.”
He’s right. I know he’s right. I’m doing this to myself because I’m scared the cancer is going to come back, and I can’t do a damned thing about it. So, I’ve dug myself into a hole that’s dark, and I’m miserable.
Do I want to be like this for nine days? No. Absolutely not.
The truth is I’m afraid if I let go, I’m inviting the worst to happen. If I stop worrying, I feel like I’m opening myself up to my fears coming true.
A coworker posted an article on Facebook this weekend about the neuroscience of happiness. She’s an RN, and I swear, this article was meant for me to see. It states, “Here’s what brain research says will make you happy:
- Ask “What am I grateful for?” No answers? Doesn’t matter. Just searching helps.
- Label those negative emotions. Give it a name and your brain isn’t so bothered by it.
- Decide. Go for “good enough” instead of “best decision ever made on Earth.”
- Hugs, hugs, hugs. Don’t text — touch.”
I stopped the gratitude journal I was told to keep by my cancer counselor. That was stupid of me.
When I was a teenager, every single weekday morning, I did a devotional before school began. I found these devotional guides, I can’t even remember what they’re called now, but every page or so was a story or prompt or Bible verse and guided questions. Each ended with a fill-in-the-blank prayer which focused on the lesson. I don’t want a Bible based devotional, though. As I’ve said before, my relationship with God and church is complicated at best. It’s just not as simple as it was when I was a kid. Too much baggage. Too much heartbreak. Too much disappointment.
I do want a meditation journal, though. Something similar to what I had as a teenager with guided lessons and specific targets. I remember how calming and soothing it was to start out each school day with it.
I bought the Sunrise Manifesto a few weeks ago. I haven’t started it, yet, but maybe I will this week. Every lesson begins with a gratitude question. Neuroscience says just searching for gratitude is enough to trigger the right brain response. I’ll give it a go. My current brain response sucks.
As for naming the negative feeling, it’s fear. I’m freaking afraid (not the f word I want to use, but my mom reads my blog and would yell at me, and yes, I’m 39 and still have a healthy fear of my mom).
I once read to help yourself with your fears, look at yourself in the mirror and say the fears out loud. I’ve done that.
I. Have. Cancer.
It’s my reality. I. Have. Cancer. I’ll always have cancer, even if I live to my hundreds and die in my sleep like my great-grandmother who died in her sleep at 101. Remission doesn’t mean cured. It means dormant. Asleep. Undetectable.
I’m scared of the cancer returning, of not being around for S and AJ. I’m scared of the cancer returning, of not being able to work and ruining A’s financial stability. I’m scared of the cancer returning, of dying a slow, painful death.
There. I labeled the negative emotion. Now, I have to decide how I want to spend the days leading to my five month check up. Day-by-day. As my mom tells me, one day at a time. That’s good enough.
S and AJ are full of hugs. It’s the first thing they do after waking up. They come find me and give good morning hugs. That’s good enough.
All of this is literally in my head. The choice are mine. I can let my fear of cancer rule me or I can rule my fear.
It’s ruling me right now. I can either say enough or remain miserable.
It’s so hard to be bigger than my fear, and truthfully?
I don’t know if I can.