When I was in middle school I was obsessed with drawing peace signs and ying-yangs. I’ve been thinking a lot about those ying-yangs lately. The concept that light cannot exist without darkness, and darkness cannot exist without light.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, I started envisioning myself as “easy-breezy-cancer-girl”. You know the one that wears lipstick to chemo, and then goes for a quick run before whipping up dinner for her family. The one that rocks a bald head, and starts wearing heals and hipster jeans. The one who dares cancer to strip her of sexiness, and sassiness. The one that never misses a day of work due to fatigue, and who juices her organic vegetables and becomes a vegan. The one who spews out positive slogans and embraces all the pink paraphernalia. Seriously. This is what I dreamed up for myself.
And now, I’m disappointed. Because I am not “easy-breezy-cancer-girl”. . . not even close. Because I bite my lip on my way into chemo, and cry when I realize all over again that cancer is my reality. Because I’m uncomfortable even in my most comfy pjs snuggled up with the warmest blanket. Because I’m mad, and scared, and overwhelmed, and have yet to juice my vegetables. Because I literally have a team of people helping me on any given day, and I still am wiped out.
I go to acupuncture once a week, force myself to drink organic fruit smoothies most days, use aromatherapy for my nausea instead of meds, do my best to go on walks when I can, drink more water than I ever have in my life, and challenge myself to make it to work when my body will allow it. And still I feel disappointed with myself.
I realize this is flawed thinking. And here is where the ying-yang comes in.
I am both. I am part “easy-breezy-cancer-girl” and part “fucking hot mess”. I am both. I wear lip gloss to chemo and have statement earrings. I also cry so much that snot piles up on my chin, and sometimes I punch my pillow while screaming “fuck”. I am graceful. And whatever the opposite of graceful is. I am brave. And I am terrified.
And this is okay. The ying-yang says so. We get to be both. What a sweet truth. We get to be both!
I can be the mom that takes her kids sledding despite her chemo-coma, and the mom that turns her kids over to the TV and I-pad. The one that slices up organic apples, and the one that stops for donuts. The one who patiently helps them get on their snow gear for the third time, and the one that starts yelling and throwing snow boots. I am both.
When I was at one of my lowest points this last round of chemo, a friend of mine sent a text saying “all you have to do is survive.”
It was like music to my ears.
On my worst days, all I have to do is survive.
And on my best days, I will thrive.
And there will be both. And I will do both.
And I will bend without breaking. A tree in the wind.