I mean, the surgery was brutal and recovery was excruciating but emotionally, I was mostly OK.
A year later, except for the back of my head (which is a little bit sensitive), I'm fine physically but the emotional part has become more of a challenge. In the last few months, it's become clear to me that I'm only going to work through it all with a little outside help.
So, I'm seeing a therapist. I know it's the right thing to do and I like and instinctively trust the woman I'm working with but it's not easy at all.
We've talked about how all my life, I've been pretty good at getting along by stuffing a lot of my fear and anger into an emotional closet. This has, for the most part, been a remarkable coping mechanism. However, no door is completely effective at shutting out the bad stuff and, when it leaks out through the cracks, it manifests itself in ways that can take a very large toll on the body and spirit. At this point in my life, my emotional closet is so full of anger and fear that the door is in danger of bursting wide open.
I'm afraid of losing control.
I'm embarrassed and ashamed that some of it is so ugly.
I'm scared of taking my darkest thoughts and holding them up to the light.
But I think it needs to happen.
I've also been thinking a lot about how I live most of my life in my head, to the point that I'm really quite disconnected from my own body. At my very first session with my new therapist, she pointed out that when I talk about my fear of another tumour or about certain things from my past, I hyperventilate. And I don't even notice.
She spent most of the second session interrupting me and telling me to take deep breaths, hold them and then exhale slowly. She asked me how I was feeling and I said "Impatient."
What I thought was "I'm paying all this money per hour, so I can sit here and breathe? I can do that at home."
Except that I don't. So she's given me homework. I have to spend two minutes a day, twice a day concentrating on my breathing (we started with four minutes but it felt like an eternity).
Just taking in oxygen. It's so basic. Yet here I am, 46 years old and learning to breathe.