I Never Thought THIS Would Be the Struggle
I was able to spend some quality time with my husband this weekend as my kids are with their Mimi and Papa. As a result my husband and I were able to spend some quality time together. We did something fun! We took the Love Languages Quiz to discover what our love languages are. I’m a mental health therapist and this is something I recommend to most of my clients, especially the couples. The idea behind the Love Languages if you’ve never heard of it, is that we all communicate (give/receive) love in different ways. The 5 ways explored in this quiz are: Acts of Service, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation and Gift Giving.
For example, my father would do anything for anyone. He’s the guy who will shovel the walk, snow blow his driveway, the neighbors driveway and half the road if he thought it needed it. He will do the dishes before the meal is over just so no one else has to. That’s his way of showing love. As for me, I use my words to express love (or so I thought before I took the quiz!) So in a relationship if two people aren’t aware of the different love languages they’re speaking, they could both be trying to communicate love but the wires are getting crossed and they don’t “feel loved”. Learning what your love language is and the love language of your spouse can be extremely helpful! Check it out! I was surprised to find that both my husband and I had Quality Time come up as our primary love language. (Though I still believe Words of Affirmation is primary for me in giving and receiving love!) Even if you don't 100% agree with the results it at least helps to increase awareness!
June 22nd is my 3 year breast cancer free anniversary! I’m celebrating by giving you a gift! All month I’ve been giving away Finding Myself … Facing Cancer on eBook. If you would like a copy or would like to give it to someone it’s free on the website for you! Just tell me where to send it!
And in other news, I shared a while back on my social media about my application being accepted and me being invited to be interviewed on the podcast: Ask Pat 2.0. I can’t tell you how excited I was about this and was totally afraid that my fan-girl-nerves blew the interview, but it aired last week "How Do I Progress When There's so Much To Do?" and I have linked to the episode so you can check it out if you’d like. Pat Flynn is a YouTuber, Entrepreneur, Author and a kind and generous person. He offered some great advice to me about keeping it simple as I try to juggle a counseling business, a writing business and a home full of guys! He was patient and genuine and I can’t say enough about what a classy, top-notch person Pat Flynn is. You can listen and see for yourself!
Today, in light of my anniversary month, I thought it would be good to share with you another bit from Finding Myself … Facing Cancer. And I think this is a struggle that comes up in the life of a cancer survivor time and again and so it is worth reading to you today. Enjoy:
I Never Thought THIS Would Be the Struggle
At this point in the breast cancer experience, after all the diagnostic testing, subsequent diagnosis, decision-making regarding treatment, subsequent chemotherapy treatment, sickness, weight loss, weight gain, time off work, working while unwell, time in bed, decision-making regarding surgeries, subsequent surgeries, family upheaval, countless doctor appointments, laughter and tears, that this would be the struggle kind of baffles me.
I was talking to my friend Amanda the other day. (She also happens to be a fellow breast cancer survivor.) We were discussing how shut off we were emotionally to be able to manage almost a full year of doctors’ appointments, treatments, illness, etc. Now that we are no longer in the thick of things and have some headspace and time to devote to feelings, those feelings we have pent up for months seem overwhelming to us. The dam has broken and has flooded my mental space, my emotions, my very soul. Torrents of emotions are not the only seas to navigate, but this new body as well. After so many physical changes over the past several months I feel like an alien in my own body. Amanda said that if she hears that she just "needs time to get used to the new normal" one more time, she may lose it. I get that. And I had to laugh because I've used that very statement in sessions with my clients, with family members and caregivers of patients, and in personal pep talks.
Here's the thing about the new normal: it's strange. It's all foreign. I happened to like the "old" body I had. It wasn't picture perfect but it was all mine. I knew it well and over time had cultivated a very healthy and appreciative relationship with it, every bit of it. Now, I struggle with self-hate. It may sound extreme but I must be honest.
My task right now is to constantly remind myself that this body did not ask for cancer, it did not ask for surgery or changes. This body is still "my body," just in different feeling and form. It will take time to develop a relationship with this new body. In the process, it will do no good to deny the feelings I am experiencing. So I must learn to acknowledge the pain of my emotions as well as the pain I am experiencing in body, to nurture my body while caring for my emotional self. While they may seem to be in conflict, the work will be to assimilate, to blend body and spirit. They seem to be at odds right now. However, I remind myself that I do not "hate" this body. This body has survived a number of traumatic events in 2015. This body has carried me through. I want to nurture and care for this frame I have been gifted with. It is glorious.
I want to acknowledge all that I feel in my spirit at this time as well: the grief, the anger, the confusion. In doing so, I hope to rally both body and spirit to the same purpose—to heal. I never thought this would be the struggle at this point. I am thankful for every new day, each moment, to be with my family, to watch my children grow. However, I do feel the expectation is that I would be giddy with excitement over being "done." But I need you to know: I am not done. In some ways, the most difficult piece of healing is beginning now. I can handle tasks and to-dos much better than I can handle inner conflict, insecurity, and sadness. This time of "reconstruction" is about much more than my breasts. I'm learning to love and accept myself again, the way I look and feel now. I'm sorting through the events and emotions of the last several months. It is a busy time internally and will require time and space. I'm grateful for the support, prayers, words of encouragement, and for every single person in my life.
Because you are in my life, you need to know: I'm not done, I am just beginning
I hope you found this helpful. Maybe you have someone in your life who has cancer and you’ve wondered about this very thing. Well, now you know! Once cancer has entered a person's life, it’s always there even after they have finished treatment and may be in remission for years. It has changed their life and has become a part of their life, forever. So that’s the take-away today!
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Thanks so much for checking in today and I look forward to meeting with you again soon, friends. Until then: Create something great!