I took the summer.
I started to take things for myself in the spring, but when I got to the summer I took it all. The entire summer. I took it as mine and didn't look back.
I've been on this reluctant journey for a while now. I wasn't happy when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I wasn't angry either. I was something else. Frustrated, maybe? Relieved to have answers but lost as to how to proceed next.
I sought out support groups and studied everything I could get my hands on. I wanted to "manage" my diagnosis as efficiently and completely as I could.
What I found was that most of us with benign brain tumors are just doing the best we can. We're all holding on to the scraps of a life already over and trying to build something new with what we have left. And our experiences are distinctly unique.
No matter how much logic I tried to apply to the existence of this tumor, there were certain truths I couldn't seem to escape. The loudest being space in your head is precious.
One thing became clear as time went on—life was different now.
I am different now.
I had to make decisions. I am no longer able to balance a dozen spinning plates. And as some of them began to crash down around my feet, I knew I needed to be honest about what I could and could not handle.
I felt stripped—one by one—of the things in my life that were familiar and loved. Confidence, creativity, strength, principles, ideals—they started to dissolve like cotton candy in a rain storm. And I was trapped. Lost in my mind with no way to control what was happening. All the while I was trying to make meals and help with homework and pay bills and write and be a good mom and wife and friend.
I failed at some of those things. I failed at others I haven't listed.
Cap was always there for me. Even in his sleep, he holds my hand. My best friend, my anchor. The man who has always seen me even when I don't recognize myself.
Remember when I mentioned that bit about space in your head being precious?
I began to not just know that, but apply it. Physical space in your head is precious. But so is thought space.
I put down all the plates.
I dropped my unrealistic expectations for myself and others.
I fed my soul.
I got a kickass therapist.
And then I began to pick things up one at a time. This time with a new perspective and knowing that if it was too heavy, I could always put it down again.
Which is an interesting way to describe it because one of things that had been stripped from me four years ago was weightlifting. Lifting heavy things and putting them down was one of my absolute most favorite things.
Don't worry, this blog isn't going to turn into a "weightlifting is the answer!" type of thing.
Weightlifting was just something I missed. I missed it like a friend or a place. It was something that no matter what was happening in my life, it was mine. It didn't lie to me, it have unrealistic expectations.
But as I set safe and healthy boundaries in my life, my medication began to work more effectively. I was handling my stress better. And I was starting to feel *gasp* hopeful. (You might even say I had High High Hopes).
And then I took the summer.
I mean, I grabbed hold of that mythical creature and held on for all I was worth.
I haven't experienced a summer this magical since childhood. When it felt never-ending and like any and all dreams were possible.
No, I'm not suddenly healthy. In fact, last night I was awake until 3am in excruciating pain (side effects). But my thoughts are healthier. How I see my circumstances is healthier. My expectations for myself are healthier.
I've been able to return to weightlifting. It's different this time. I have a new appreciation for it. It's like getting a second chance with a true love. Or maybe I write too much romance. Or maybe read this piece by Henry Rollins.
All I know is that I'm loving the feel of the weights in my hands.
I have new limitations I'm learning. I'm asking my body to do difficult things and she keeps showing up.
And I'm so damn proud of her.
I'm proud of me. Of this new "we."
I wonder what we're going to do next.