I have talked myself out of writing about this about ten times over, but I think the reason I have felt myself grown silent with my blog these last couple of weeks has been because of this fear that whatever I have to say or what I'm feeling isn't really worthy of any space that it may hold. Like many others, as of late, I have felt my voice powerless and simply not heard. As this pandemic rages on, I'm growing tired of having to justify my value, the value of those I care about, and quite honestly the value of humanity in general. If I say I believe wearing masks in public is essential, I'm judged to be on the left. If I say I am afraid of contracting COVID then I am just being paranoid and silly. If I say I am certainly keeping my children home for their schooling in the near future, then I'm keeping them in a bubble. Everyone is judging every damn thing and it just plain sucks. I will be one hundred percent honest that it's not just me being judged, but I am also judging. I was standing in the checkout line at Target yesterday (yes, I safely venture out) with my five year old. We were patiently waiting our turn and honoring the stickers placed on the floor to help facilitate social distancing. As we stood there two women, not wearing masks, came up right behind us. Like, RIGHT behind us. The line was pretty long so we were stretched out close to the accessories department. The women were laughing and trying on hats, headbands, sunglasses...just about anything they could get their hands on. This annoyed me as just moments before arriving in the store, I had instructed my son to not touch anything unless we were going to buy it. There's no point leaving our prints (ahem, germs) on everything during a pandemic, I had explained. Parenting amidst a pandemic is like, well, insane for lack of a better word and when people do the exact opposite of what you are trying to teach your kids, it's a palm to the forehead kind of a moment. Anyway, as these women totally were violating the six feet thing, I found myself moving awkwardly to the side of the line and clutching my son as close to me as possible because they were making me completely uncomfortable! My mind was screaming "what the hell is wrong with you" ?! It was probably a good thing that my mask was covering most of my face because I'm certain my facial expressions left nothing to the imagination. I know they sensed my annoyance because it kind of felt like they were taunting me. They were judging me and I was judging them. I finally got out of there and I just felt gross.
Being judged is nothing new. I've felt like I've been under a microscope for the past two and a half years for sure. I spent the first 6 months of my diagnosis actively covering up the fact that I had cancer. Part of it was I needed that time to figure it all out and what it meant for ME! I wouldn't change that decision or that time for the world because it was necessary for me to be true to myself. But, if I'm being honest, a big part of it was I didn't want people judging me. Being the bald, cancer chick just made me so incredibly uncomfortable! Most of the time when we judge we don't know the whole story. I didn't want people making assumptions about me that simply weren't true. I think that's why I was so dead set on looking good, running my races and climbing that damn mountain (literally) during what should have been the most debilitating part of my cancer journey. As it turned out, defying logic is what gives me strength. Tell me I can't, tell me I'm crazy....then just watch me blow it out of the damn water. Even now, as I've finally opened myself up and I keep sharing my experiences, no doubt some people see it as attention seeking. I see it as my purpose. On day 2 of my stay in the ICU following my sepsis diagnosis, I had an epiphany. As I laid there in that bed, there was no one there except my nurses and only 2 members of my family at a time. Because I'm stubborn, I often sent them home and I was there by myself. In those moments, I realized that all of those people that I worried about what they thought of me....it was like they didn't even exist. My world was me and the people I loved/cared about. No one else existed and certainly none of those people were there for me physically, in thought or even in spirit. Their judgement, their opinions meant nothing...zero...nada. If I have ever felt empowered to live my life true to myself it was in this moment. That type of experience really puts that into perspective.
So what is the lesson? I"m getting to that....the feelings that I have, that you have...they are legit. Some of us are aligned and many of us most certainly are not. I'm really going to try harder at not judging you if you promise to respect me. I will do the same. I also promise to listen to you and try to understand why we don't see eye to eye, if you promise to listen to me. Being different is what makes the world go round and we will all find the people that we will want in our circle when the end of the journey comes. What I think we need to do better at, however, is respecting each other while we are here under this same sky. My experiences have resulted in me perceiving the crisis we are all living in perhaps an unusual way? I don't know...it just feels like the right response for me. I was cleaning out my closet yesterday and I came across my "cancer bag" that I put in all of my papers, discharge notes, etc., and I found a folder with a paper in it that read "My action plan for controlling heart failure at home". Kind of punched me in the gut. That was me. I had heart, kidney and renal failure and many other issues as a result of cancer, surgery and just bad luck. I survived that. If I can walk away from that, somewhat unscathed, I can survive this damn pandemic, this social/political unrest and this emotionally exhausting world I find myself living in, too. I vow to unapologetically go forth feeling confident in my choices, my views and my opinions because I have some pretty justifiable reasons for feeling them. You probably do, too. I will do better because I want to be better. This whole experience feels like one more crack in my foundation, but I know I'm capable of filling it with the most beautiful specs of gold and a little light...the kind that catches your eye and leaves you wanting more. I think you can do that, too. -M
"She is a beautiful piece of broken pottery, put back together by her own hands, and a critical world judges her cracks while missing the beauty of how she made herself whole again". -JmStorm