Sunday, June 3, 2018

Mother-Son Bonding, With Tissues

I grew up a cryer.  I was a very emotional child, and the slightest little change in the weather had me bawling my eyes out.  I cried for two and a half hours after (SPOILER ALERT) Old Yeller died.  It was embarrassing, because it is really hard to be taken seriously when you have a big snot bubble hanging off the end of your nose.  So I tried very hard not to cry.  Of course, the harder I tried to cry, the worse it was, but finally I arrived at a point where I could stay calm in emotional situations without getting teary.

Then I became a mom.  

Zane and I were sitting in the living room, each of us doing our own thing in a companionable silence one afternoon.  It was very hot outside, but the room we were in was cool and dark and comfortable.  I was squinting hard and trying to read an article on my phone, and Zane was determining which of his Lego minifigures needed a makeover. 


"Yes?"  I gave up on squinting, and looked up at my son. When he was a baby, that expression meant that he was pooping, but now it signaled deep thoughts.

"You know how I'm going to grow up one day?"  Zane said, not looking at me.

"Yes, you will grow big and strong and follow your own path," I responded.

"Well, I'll be on my own, but I won't know everything, and I will still need you,"  Zane finally looked up right at me, his voice tiny. "Will you still be around?"

I pride myself on my ability to remain calm, and I very calmly burst into tears. I took a deep breath that hitched a bit. 

"That's the plan, son,"  I put my arms around him.  "But even if I am not physically here, I'll still be around to help you if you need me." 

At least that is what I think I said.  I was a little blubbery, and may not have enunciated.  But I think Zane understood.  I hugged him until he complained about me getting his shirt wet.  He went back to his Legos and I blew my nose, and the moment passed. 

Except it is still in my heart.   I've been looking at pictures of kittens online, just to get back some equilibrium. 

Image result for Pictures of kittens

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Flinging Poo Just Makes A Mess

It's a long-held legend, maybe true, that monkeys in a zoo like to fling things at the people staring at them through the bars.  Completely understandable. Staring is aggression in the animal world, and here's a bunch of us humans just looking at them through the bars. The natural instinct is fight or flight, and since most zoos don't allow for flight, you get fight.  Animals tend to use every single weapon to get us to go away.  They get angry and throw things. Including their feces. 

Humans are no different.  We get into a bad mood, for whatever reason, and we just start flinging poop all over, wanting everyone else to go away.  That's what I tell my counseling students when someone randomly snaps at them during the day.  Most of them laugh at the picture of someone walking around throwing their poop, and we talk about it more. You have two choices, I tell them: Fling the poop back/start a feces melee, or wipe the crap off and walk away.  Which choice is going to get you where you need to be?

Last week, I cut through the line on my way to the door, walking in front of a man yapping on his phone.  My focus was to get out of the way of everyone else waiting in line as soon as possible.  I did not bump him, or cause him to drop his phone, or spill drinks all over him. 

"The word you're looking for is 'excuse me'," he said snarkily.   

Okay, at that point I did want to spill my drinks all over him. I had been waiting over 20 minutes for my food at a "fast food" place where I had ordered ahead so as to cut my wait time. My brain instinctively growled, wanting to fight. I was hangry.  I tossed an equally snarky "Excuse ME," as I left the store.  I sat in the car to calm down, embarrassed. 

That man was flinging poop.  I was flinging it right back.
Ever since a certain orange man was elected to the highest office in our land, there's been a foul stench in the air.  People all around me, myself included, now feel as though they have a mandate be as obnoxious as they want to be.  As a result, the tenor of daily discourse has been altered. Instead of polite and courteous, or at least neutral comments, now everyone is flinging their poop at everyone else.  Where there was once a feeling of unity and cooperation, because we are ALL Americans, no matter our color, now there exists a huge pile of feces. We can't throw actual things at people, because that is assault, which is frowned upon.  So we make snarky comments to perfect strangers in the line at McDonald's, and they make snarky comments to us. We yell at our children.  We insult people on Twitter, and post comments on other's Facebook pages, looking for a fight.

It's a form of violence that we've been ignoring for too long.  I have contributed my share of metaphorical feces, and for that I apologize. I have decided to wipe off any more random poop flung my way, and walk away.  I resolve to do better, to be better, as much as I can.  I will not throw any more poop at an unsuspecting populace.

Not even if they really, really, REALLY deserve it.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Putting Myself Out There, Part Two

I have been as chill as this dog!
On the last day at the plastic surgeon, they have you put on a pink graduation cap and gown.  They take your picture.  You've finished, you're done, life is good.  They also ask you if you would be willing to be a member of their club for former patients.  I said yes, because it was mainly email and therefore not too stressful.  However, I was recently asked if I wanted to be interviewed for a short film about my experiences, to help other women who are about to have reconstruction.

Help other women who are about to have reconstruction? 

The old me(before cancer) would have flat out said, "Nope, no thank you, not interested."   The very idea would have me running in the opposite direction, heading for a hiding place.  Meeting new people really makes me nervous. And to be interviewed on camera?   My anxiety makes me think that people are judging me, making fun of me, with a little paranoia thrown in, and I panic.  Intellectually, I know that I have absolutely NO reason to feel that way.  Emotionally is another story. I know that I'm not the only one out there who feels that way, but when I am in the midst of a panic attack, it sure seems that way.

But the NEW AND IMPROVED me(after cancer) has decided to stop saying "no" to things that scare me.  I said yes.  Then I obsessed 24/7 about all the "what ifs", and had to take a Xanax to calm down.  Actually, I did not do this for once!.  The old me so would have done that, but the new me?  I completely forgot about it, until I got another email asking me when I would be available.  My interview is scheduled for Monday afternoon.  I will try to answer the questions truthfully, without profanity.

I just want to be helpful, and maybe to give back a little of the wonderful support that I received. My experience is a path that many other women have traveled.  I am not unique. Cancer is such a horrific event, no matter what the outcome.  If I can help at least one woman feel a bit more in control of the chaos?  I am more than willing to put myself out there, even if it means doing something scary and terrifying like be on video. 

However, I draw the line at skydiving.  Hard pass.