I warn you, good reader, that my thoughts on this are scattered. I am struggling with this, struggling to write it sensibly.
Okay. I have/had cancer. Never sure if it's present tense or past tense, whatever. I have been handed that gut punch that says "hey, you there, you're going to die. Maybe not today, but it's coming. So get your shit together." Now, the truth of the matter is that I was always 'going to die'. Only I didn't think about it, wasn't daily aware of it and it didn't suck all the air out of the room. Now it's ALL I think about, morning, noon and night. It has sucked out all the hope and future plans. It is a mental burden that I fail under.
This question gets asked a lot: If you have a year to live, what do you want to do? For some that answer is get on a jet, fly all over the world, eat exotic food, dance at pagan festivals and hang out with rock stars. For other's it's to batten down the hatches and spend every single second with your loved ones and not let them out of your sight, burning them into every cell of your being and soul so that you never forget them, even in death.
I do not want to jet off around the globe. I do not want to leave my loved ones or the small, humble acts and pleasures that make up my life. BUT I DON'T WANT THINGS AS THEY ARE NOW!!!
All of a sudden the little things that used to drive me nuts have become utterly intolerable. Like, rip my hair out intolerable. Now some will blame that on tamoxifen, but this was a slow building burn before I ever started tamoxifen so no, this is not related to wonky emotions due to drugs. That would be a very dismissive thing to assume.
I love my husband. I love my child. I want them in my life. I just don't think I want them in my space anymore. I don't want to be anyone's mommy anymore. (my daughter is 25). By mommy I mean the mental act of knowing everything, foreseeing everything, preventing foreseeable catastrophes because the others in the house do not, planning and executing what amounts to a military movement every day to keep the troops alive and safe from their refusal to deal with their own shit.
I am tired. I do not want to wash other people's clothes, pick up their dropped socks, pick their hair out of the bathroom drain. And yes, I have nagged, screamed, protested, freaked out, for YEARS and nothing changes. I do not want to plan the meals, buy the groceries, cook the meals and clean up behind them. I have washed a lifetime of dishes. I do not want to keep a running tally in my head of all the things that need attention. It's like I'm Google for our family. I no longer want to be.
Here's what I want. A little piece of land. most of it garden. I want to tend rows of vegetables and flowers. I want quiet. I want order. I want only what I need, a little of what I want and no more. I want a comfy bed and a stack of good books and I want time to read them, free of guilt, that I am reading a book in the middle of the day. I want time to sit, sip coffee, and stare into the distance without someone slamming around in the kitchen before yelling at me, where is the can opener? (it's where it has been for the past 30 years, thanks for paying attention).
This is where the feminism part comes into the equation. When people hear me say I want to go live by myself, they immediately tell me I am selfish for not loving my family. HOLD THE PHONE!!! Where was it written that loving my family means I have to live and die in the service of their ridiculous daily demands? Where was it written that if I DO NOT want to be mommy and chief organizer until I die, that makes me not love them? Why is love foisted on women as SERVICE? It's one thing to stay home and raise small kids - but after a certain point, when are we free and released to live a life that matters to us, on our own terms, about what WE need and not where someone left their wallet for the hundredth time (on the windowsill by the door where you stupidly put it every, single day and forget about!)
I feel this deep, burning need to retreat from this same everyday grind. And the only way I can see to do that is to physically not be here. BEcause when I am here, they act like they always have, I act like I always have and that is what it is. If I want that to change, I have to change it by taking myself out of the equation. Or learn to live in utter chaos and unhappiness that I would hear about daily. And that is what I want to escape. The chaos and neediness that shatters the very fragile peace I am trying to put back together. Because cancer took it away. Yet when I try to explain this to someone they ask, but don't you love your husband and daughter? YES I DO BUT SINCE WHEN DOES THAT MEAN I HAVE TO HATE MY DAILY LIFE SO THEY CAN LIVE, UNCHANGED !?!?! Women are beaten with the blunt instrument that is called Love is Service. Love is always putting yourself last. Love is doing stuff when everyone else has gone to bed even though you are bone tired too. Love is being the only adult in a house where everyone is over 18 but the mental tasks of carrying the weight is just easier left to wife / mom. If that is love, it looks an awful lot like abuse and slavery and pointless sacrifice and martyrdom. I do not want to accept that role any longer, not if my days on this earth are limited.
I love my family. But at this point I need something to get put back IN to me, and bless them both but they are largely very, very bad at doing that. I LOOK the same to them so life carries on, for them, unchanged. Only for me, everything has changed.
I can see myself in my little cabin, surrounded by my flowers and quiet. My door would always be open to hub and daughter. But to enter my space they would need to leave their laziness at the door. Do not drop on me the things you can do for yourself but refuse to. No. Do not come here if you are carrying that. You can come here happy, settled, mature. But do not bring me problems that you want me to deal with for you. It's one thing to need my help, it's another to expect me to step in where you need to function because it's just easier for you to leave it up to me.
I lay in bed with my husband beside me and the thought of dying and leaving him behind crushes me. I reach over and put my hand on him. He sleeps on. But then he fell asleep on the sofa while I did another 4 hours of housework before crawling into bed and I think, this is not working. This does not make me feel good. It certainly does not make me feel loved. It makes me feel used and undervalued. I do not do these things lovingly, like in years past, but with a growing sense of resentment. So, when, after a cancer diagnosis, do you get to go bonkers, buy your patch of ground, roll the RV in and plant petunias? When do I get to have a space around me, that feeds and restores my soul, without being told it's selfish and unfeeling to not stay home and wipe pee drips off the toilet and spilled juice off the floor? I worry that stepping out of the norm for a wile will be a mistake. I worry that NOT stepping out will be a mistake. I worry that I am running out of time and better do SOMETHING while I still can. I worry that doing something loving for myself is condemned and judged as being unloving to others. I resent the hell out of it.
3/23/2017, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
4/12/2017 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel
7/5/2017 Whole-breast: Breast
Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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