“Your hair is really frizzed out.” My loving partner said to me with a straight face. I could feel the vestiges of Satan rise up in my throat as I couldn’t believe my ears. I had had a great day, a variety of some dear friends had come over for their alayne shift to care for me in a way that only deep female friends can do. I had gone out for an almost three block walk, had not overdone it and felt strong realizing that today was almost one week and I couldn’t believe how much progress I had made.
Today was the day I decided to get out of my dark grey easy on easy off flannel pajama bottoms and actually put on some big girl yoga pants with actual underwear and a “nice” top and sweater. Nice meaning an extra large button down shirt from Target that my friend had picked up for me before my surgery knowing I wouldn’t be able to slip on my familiar medium sized form fitting pull over shirts. There was no more form to fit.
I had taken a shower and washed my hair the best a woman with fresh incisions on her back and her breasts could, even attempted conditioner and styling product. Of course there was no way I would be able to blow dry my hair as there was still the. troublesome problem of not being able to lift my arms higher than my shoulders. I had even put on earrings and lipstick. Any chick I know understands that after feeling disgusting for long enough, there comes a time when you just have to play pretty maybe to convince ourselves that pretty is a possibility at some point. You know, “Act as if,” “Fake it till you make it” and all those other one liners that get us through the muddle.
I had walked downstairs to take a walk around the garden and at the bottom of my stairs there was about five gifts of flowers and bags and cakes and baskets from a variety of angels. Oh my God, I think I may actually miss cancer. This has been the most amazing week ever of allowing care and accepting love as it appears and seeing the side of people up front and personal. But more on this crazy thought later because I really don’t mean that I am going to “miss cancer.” The attention that has been given to me has been most incredible and I am guessing that the work I have been doing as it relates to Ann (aka my birth mother) has showed up in my accepting of help and love in all forms and not feeling undeserving or guilty. This is progress.
So back to the present day. I feel good, great actually. I had walked with a dear friend who recently not only survived cancer, but had just lost her incredible husband and has always filled the gaping maternal hole for a good part of my life especially the last seven or eight years. I had run into a few people and actually stopped to talk to them. We went into one of our favorite shops and walked and pretended that life was normal for a few moments. As the day progressed more of my beloved women friends stopped by to check in and care and I felt so grateful and humbled. My partner was playing golf as part of our post surgery plan was that his days would mostly be his normal schedule as the nighttime for dinner and bed was when I really needed and wanted him the most. This schedule would help both of us acclimate this new world we found our young six year but very committed relationship in.
So when he walked in after his day and I was sitting with my tea feeling so calm and great (and pretty) the last thing I needed to hear as the first thing he would be saying was, “Your hair is really frizzed out,” and as I could feel my angelic stance quickly begin its plunge into Linda Blair’s spinning head in The Exorcist also known as the rage of Ann that I so fondly remember. I replied with some heat, “Well I can’t very well blow dry my hair, (you know the raising the arm thing or maybe it is the four drains attached to my back that feel like I have four snakes biting my skin with their venom, or maybe it is the feeling of being my former 36c being stuffed into a 28 triple a training bra with a padlock all week). He could feel in an instant that what he likely deemed an innocent comment, (you know that truth thing we so value in our committed relationships) was something that had triggered me and ducked for cover saying something that I don’t remember. I could feel myself shutdown quickly so as not to turn into “go fuck yourself Ann,” where I was trained by the master and go to that dark place that does not feel very good. “Saying this is not very helpful.” I could hear myself saying and then quiet.
I didn’t know what to say. I had my fantasy of his greeting, those fucking expectations. The irony is that he is loving, kind and generous with words and always calls me beautiful when he sees me. Despite the fact that I was feeling as good as I was with my female friends and with myself, I certainly wasn’t feeling this way as it relates to being a woman in a relationship. What did I expect? That he would walk into the room and feel ravenous for me? This is absolutely ridiculous. I just had my breasts removed and have four drains attached to me. Christ I can’t even allow anyone to hug me for fear of pain in my entire upper body. Maybe it was the entire day of feeling so loved and mothered that I just couldn’t have a whole day of that warm unfamiliar feeling so the tiniest comment from the man I love and I know who loves me with all of his heart was some affirmation of unloveablility and not good enough that so easily floods my veins no matter how much work I do. Does the struggle ever end? I mean I can only blame Ann for so long. At some point I have to take responsibility for the washing machine head and understand that an innocent comment does not mean I am unloveable or unworthy of love.
My friend and I joke all of the time about seemingly innocent comments from our mates that make us feel this way. We will say, “ He obviously doesn’t love you anymore,” in a joking way knowing that they love us with all of their hearts, but we can so easily slide into the abyss with one unsuspecting comment. What is that? I am a strong successful well developed woman. I have and continue (obviously still need to based on this writing) to do “the work” and yet a comment like this about my frizzy hair (which by the way had just been complimented by my neighbor, just sayin) plummets me into oblivion and I have a really hard time rescuing myself from the depths.
As I write this today, I also realize that my writing a few days back about the lesson of patience is flashing in my radar. It has only been a week for fucks sake. I have been coming down from two days of morphine in a body that is not used to drugs, I have been replacing this with Oxy in a body that is not used to drugs and even though I am pacing myself trying to only take one before bed, I am guessing that my emotions are affected by the detoxing of all of the crap that has been in my otherwise healthy body (except for that blasted cancer). Not to mention the emotional rollercoaster. that has been my life since this second diagnosis and the constant reminder that I am BRCH 2 positive and no matter what I do for the rest of my life I am going to have to be watched differently.
So full circle back to Patience. Clearly the work I need to do is to stop being so hard on myself and cut myself some slack.
In growing up with Ann never feeling good enough about herself for whatever reason modeled itself unconsciously to me as strong but also coupled with such a force of rage fueled by alcoholism that I walked on eggshells around her for almost every minute I lived with her. Her behavior, though there were also many bright spots, her core essence, the parts of it that left their indelible imprint in my cells are the occasional weak spots that rear their very ugly heads in me and that is when I struggle with the concept of patience. The struggle is also knowing that I am indeed loveable and more than good enough and that every single fucking thing is not always my fault or my responsibility. Sometimes it is just a bad comment no matter how innocent it was meant.
Of course this is when I need my friend Patience the most.
Alayne and her hair on DAY SIX.