When I was about 8 or 9, my family saw both Jaws and Piranha one night at an outdoor theater. I spent the next week or two deathly afraid of the bathtub. Or any puddle of water deeper than an inch. I always had a rather active imagination, and as a child, my imagination regularly worked against me. My dad, who was an engineer, finally sat me down one day and forced me to consider in detail the error of my thinking. How could something as large as a shark make its way through small pipes and into our tub? Staring into the light of logic, I had to admit that it couldn’t.
I’ve always had a comfortable relationship with my body. For a modicum of effort on my part, I expected it to get me through every day as I saw fit. If I wanted to spontaneously dance, I would. If I wanted to run through the snow with the pups, I would. If I wanted to push a piece of furniture from one room into another, I would. But when the call came that the biopsy of my left breast showed cancer, I immediately felt like my body turned against me. I lay in bed at night and inched my arm away from my side. I wanted my turncoat breast to stay away from other parts of me. How dare it defect? I did nothing but support it since it showed up 40 years ago. In some weird way, I felt like I didn’t know myself anymore. Where else was the cancer? Every issue I’ve had in the last 5 years became suspect. Every otherwise normal ache and pain became related. I felt like dead woman walking. It’s then that I heard my dad’s voice from so many years ago telling me, Melissa, you are your own worst enemy.
It’s funny how our minds can control us in such powerful ways. I’ve always loved being imaginative. Being creative brings me joy. However, I’ve been reminded regularly throughout my life that being stuck in my head can work against me. I don’t think I’m alone in that. Focusing too much on a problem doesn’t necessarily solve it. Sometimes it just makes it worse. While I believe that I’m intelligent and resourceful and a problem solver, I also know that sometimes I need to stop listening to my own voice and instead listen to others who can maybe see something differently than I.
I started this blog again as a way for me to look out. To get outside my head and look for the moments in my day that are more worthy of my attention. I asked others to join me in this gratitude journey as a way of sharing what I was going through and maybe helping someone else along the way look for their own moments. I didn’t expect to hear so many, many words of encouragement, support, and strength. Today I’m so very grateful for all of your voices. They helped drown out my own.
You are so articulate and your description surely resonates with so many of us who have suffered with anxiety and panic. I’ll be reading each day and smiling inside saying “she’s part of me!”
Thank you, my friend! xoxo