When Quinn and my mom, who's living with us while she gets her things unpacked and gets settled in her new apartment, are both talking to me at the same time, for example, as if the other isn't in the room, instead of handling it the way my more mellow-mannered younger brother probably would with a, "Hey, hey, one at a time guys!" and a smile, I'm quick to snap: "WHAT! What do you even want!" at whichever one of them is closer, usually my mom.
|Mother's Day 2012 - with my mom & an unhappy Quinn (sadly, the only photo I could find of all 3 of us together)|
To be fair to myself, Chris also left town for a month last week, so I've been a little on edge while I shift the burden and get used to running the household on my own instead of sharing the duties like we usually do. Remembering trash night, cooking dinner and doing the dishes, doing a dry run of our taxes so we have an idea of what's left to spend on landscaping this year, and planning Quinn's birthday party is taking its toll, people.
I had a call last week with a woman who's writing a piece on me, who -- bless her -- sat down and read through my entire blog, all three-and-a-half years of it, over the previous week. She asked me a couple of straight-shooting, hard-hitting questions, including how I managed to love myself through cancer, which is, after all, a disease of one's own mutated cells. How did you forgive your body for that? she wanted to know.
I'd never even thought of it like that, I don't think. My body might have made a mistake, but I always blamed cancer, as if it were an entirely separate entity. As if it were not me. I knew I needed to be kind to myself to start healing, but I never thought of it as forgiveness. What was there to forgive? I've always been strong, capable, resilient. Even when I had moments of self-pity, even when I asked my therapist why me? I still knew cancer was not my fault. After all, why anyone?
What I have a harder time with is being gentle with myself (and clearly those around me) when I'm feeling pulled in too many directions.
I have a hard time finding patience. I am irritable because my routine has been knocked askew. Because I still have chemo next week and a scan on Quinn's birthday -- on his birthday, for chrissakes! -- next month. I'm angry because a friend was told she had no evidence of disease and two weeks later they found metastases in her brain. I take it out on my poor mom, who's just moved back to town because of a break-up.
And then sometimes I see her in all her fragility, starting over again in her mid-sixties, transferring jobs and setting up another new apartment after a lifetime of being a military wife and starting over every two to three years, trying to stick to a strict budget but still wanting to treat me to breakfast because that's what moms do, and saying things like, "I can't imagine not working. What would I do with my time?" I wonder if she means these statements as a premeditated response to anyone who might judge her (although I don't think anyone is) since she probably needs to work. I'm sure she doesn't intend to criticize me not working, but I still question whether it's a jab at my decision to stay home.
There's another of my faults, if you're counting: I analyze things to shreds.
So this is how it goes with my mom and I until we find our groove around each other again. There is some friction, so we have more wine than either of us is used to, we let Quinn be a buffer between us because it's hard to be tense when you're racing monster trucks, and I make a joke about my younger brother being our mom's favorite to diffuse any tension and also because he might be. He's all of our favorite.
These are the things I need to forgive myself for, the things I need to work on, the things I have any control over, even when it feels like I don't. How I act, how I react, how I interact with the ones I love the most. I could do better, and I'm always striving for that. In the interim, I love myself anyway. Because we should, and because -- if we're lucky -- our parents do.
But cancer? That wasn't me, wasn't my choice, wasn't my fault. What about you? Did you blame yourself for your cancer? How have you employed forgiveness in your own life? Has it helped you heal?