I used to fancy myself adventurous. It was self-deceptive but it felt good to think that I was someone who took risks on a whim. Realistically, I’ve always needed someone else to be my wingman, or something that spurred me on (like vodka, for instance). But adventurous, I am not. I truly, truly, deeply loathe roller coasters. I don’t even like the baby ones. The feeling of speed, being flung up, dropped down, whipped to and fro; these are all things that I don’t like. Heights, too. It used to be embarrassing, and in fact I did try to like these things, but I don’t.
I don’t like that feeling of not being in control of my body.
Cancer is a roller coaster.
Emotions are in a constant state of flux, and between appointments and the interminable w…a…i…t…i…n…g… to get to the next step, it is as though I’m on the worst roller coaster in the world. It has been deemed safe by the authorities, and I see people getting off the ride, but I’m locked into my seat, gripping the bar, and am being mercilessly dropped from a dizzying height without regard for the woman in the seat. That’s me, by the way. Every time I catch my breath or find a moment of peace it is taken. Sometimes ripped away like with the surgeon who made me wish I would get hit by a train, sometimes it is gently and lovingly pulled away, like with the fun and friendly surgeon at the big cancer center that I went to this week.
I find myself reeling more than rocking these days. On the surface breast cancer, in all of its iterations, is a relatively simple issue. But it isn’t. Not at all. With other cancers, there seem to be clear-cut, straightforward protocols. But that isn’t true, either. And every doctor has a different opinion. You, the patient (and I am not a patient person, mind you), are tasked with deciding which expert opinion is the best for you and then you get to implement it. It can be confusing and exhausting. Every experience is different, every single one. No doctor, group, hospital, or center is going to provide the same experience to each patient. And that is really tough, too. What I wouldn’t give right now for a simple, straight-forward, livable plan.
But that isn’t going to happen.
I keep spending my precious energy crying over spilled milk. Yes, the milk is fucking precious! But it has been spilled. End of story. Now it is time to clean it up. The transition from milk that is contained (in a glass), has a newly formed plan (to be consumed ), and a purpose (providing both calcium and to quench a thirst) into something to be discarded and dealt with is more fraught with emotion and seems possible. There are so many things to consider, from the type of cloth used to contain the mess to what is to be used as a replacement. When milk is your favorite beverage, a part of your identity, you may take more into consideration than if the focus is more on the mess made by it.
But spilt milk it all is.
Let’s talk about transitioning for a sec. To transition. To become something else. The act of becoming. I was caught in this storm while I was becoming something else. I had plans, ambitions, hopes. I had dreams. I had allowed those for myself and they were grand, ambitious, and I was so close to achieving them. One thing I’ve had to struggle with lately is the loss of the future me that I’d planned and begin the process of making peace with the me of my new future. That the things I’ve held onto so dearly for so long, that were, in fact, becoming my reality, my transition from one Lexa to the Lexa I am supposed to be is now, in many ways, lost forever is painful. It hurts in a place that has no name and is beyond definition. I’m mourning that loss not with gnashing of teeth and keening, wailing as I want. I’m mourning it, nonetheless. The glass, quite simply, cannot be unbroken, the bell unrung.
One thing remains: the me that I am now becoming.
When other things have destroyed my world, and there have been many, I walked away an entirely new person. It wasn’t always obvious, but it is true. Isn’t that true for all of us?
So, rather than continue to mourn the many things I’ve lost and will continue to lose through this bullshit (I refuse to think of this as a “journey”. Fuck that. It isn’t a journey. It’s a phase in my life, like puberty on angel dust. Angel dust and really shitty acid. With the opposite of boobs and my hormones being taken away.) I am working toward flipping my ambitions and dreams, my hopes and most secret desires on their ears, twisting them, shaping them into something new. Because I, my love, am a Realist. I cannot let myself, as I’ve done in the past, cease to dream, to want. They will just be new dreams. That’s so much harder than it sounds.
It’s sort of like playing Chutes And Ladders with a child. It is really, really, reallyreallyreally frustrating. You can’t win, because the 4 year old needs to learn how to play and you, the adult, are supposed to not be a jerk. So you go up the ladders, you move your gingerbread guy, and then you get the wrong card and Whoosh! Down you go to start. Over and over, it seems. It’s like, dude! Wtf?!?! So you get into it, and now you really want to win, or at least stop being sent down the chutes. And suddenly you realize that you’ve somehow lost yourself in the game, and you’re playing to win, which makes you a jerk, and the 4 year old beats you fair and square because you forgot the main rule: Have fun. You forgot the goal, the dream. Also, head’s up, you’re a jerk and should never play board games with children.
So I went to the big, regional, world-class cancer center. I’ll make a post about that, but the take-away right now is that I only did it because to not would have been monumentally foolish. Seeing the best of the best is not just reasonable, but it’s unreasonable to not. I went, and came away more lost and confused, and ultimately more sad. That was unexpected. The roller coaster keeps going and I can see the huge drops, the loop-de-loops, the sharp turns. I hate roller coasters so very much.
I can’t get off of the coaster. That’s not part of the deal. What I can do is crouch down, close my eyes, and hold my breath for as long as possible. I can find that place inside that is safe and calm. I can hold on for dear life while those around me have a blast. I can dream.
While I’m doing that, I’m listening to great music. At least my happy place, where I’m going to await my new dreams, where my becoming will begin, sounds awesome.