Updated: Jul 23, 2019
Maybe losing someone you love is a fear....maybe it's having to finally acknowledge something difficult in your life that's going to have to require you act or respond in a manner you're not ready to....perhaps you fear the end of something, or maybe the beginning....exposing your vulnerability is definitely a doozy...maybe it's making a decision that will impact more than just yourself...maybe you're afraid your cancer will come back and you haven't lived up to the promise that you made to yourself about living each day to the fullest and honoring life as the incredible gift that it is...maybe you've been binge watching Stranger Things and you're just really freaked about how these kids can live in this constant state of fear and don't even blink and yet you can't sleep at the mere thought of it...ok, so clearly the last one is completely irrational, but fear itself is anything but. Whatever you fear, it is indeed an emotion that can take up so much space in your heart, your mind, hell, even your soul if you let it. I kind of hate all of the "noise" out there telling us to be fearless. Please tell me someone who is honestly fearless!?! I don't think it's possible! We are all afraid of something. A wise person once told me that the point isn't to be fearless...it's to be able to look fear square in the eye and be willing to dance with it. I feel like I've done quite a bit of dancing lately! Something I'm really struggling with this week is the idea that my cancer could come back. This chokes me up. It freaks me the hell out! I know my strength has gotten me through some pretty hard shit, but I don't want to have to face my own mortality that closely again...at least not in the near future. It seems like everywhere I turn, I'm either watching a TV show where someone is dealing with cancer, or I hear of a friend of a friend who has a new diagnosis. It's everywhere. Sometimes the thought of it makes it hard for me to breathe. I know the looming scan I have coming up this month isn't helping me to get over feeling like this as quickly and easily as I would like. I mean, some days I just want to be over this whole cancer thing. Done. I've completed the steps they told me to complete, so I should be over it. Why the hell didn't they tell me there really isn't an "end" anytime soon? Despite my pity party here, I know that in working through my experiences and emotions related to all of this mess means that I'm doing the work it takes to come out of this on the other end a better version of myself and completely winning. That is my goal after all. If I can withstand the storm and learn as much as I can about myself and life, then I will grow and life should somehow reward me, right? That sounds great, but the days that I'm waist deep in worry and fear and so much anger that I can't just exist without analyzing every experience I have as maybe the last or question every symptom as an indicator of something terrible coming is completely exhausting. Survivorship is a lot of work.
Recently I was asked what is my biggest fear? What is it that I'm most afraid of? In the moment, my response was my cancer coming back. I responded that way because what if it came back worse than before? What if I couldn't fight it? I was able to figure out how to keep living during the darkest time of my life and I know I would be able to give it everything I've got again, but what if that wasn't enough? The more I reflected on this question (like days and weeks later), I realized it isn't just the fear of the cancer returning, but I'm afraid of dying. Not really the physical process of dying because I was close to that and it just is what it is. The part that doesn't sit well with me is dying with the feeling that I am nowhere close to living the life that I had imagined for myself. The feeling that this is it and I just have to accept my shortcomings. That's a really tough pill to swallow. With that being said, what am I doing to embrace the gift of life, my second chance? I know my perspective has changed, my gratitude is expressed more freely and my ability to love others has quadrupled, but WHAT AM I DOING ABOUT THE THINGS THAT DON'T BRING ME JOY? Perhaps the fear of identifying that and actually acting on it, for me, is the greatest fear I have. I don't want to die and life just move on like it usually does. I want to leave my mark. I want to feel proud, complete, loved and ultimately at peace in my last moments. I need to clear the clutter that is keeping me from getting to this point. It's not necessarily people in my life, although it could be, but it's also making room for taking great chances and for change. Scary stuff. It's being honest about the best way to achieve what will ultimately make me happy and enable me to say I lived a life well lived. I've got some work to do, and I will keep staring down fear because damn it, my fear doesn't know my strength. I may at times be tired, I may also be confused and ultimately unsure of myself. These are just obstacles. Obstacles I most certainly can overcome to live my life true to me and not what everyone necessarily expects of me. In the final moments of life, I want to know that despite all of my fears, I can smile and know that my life was the grandest adventure. I lived, loved and seized all of my heart's desires. That's the goal anyway. -M