It’s been nearly 2 months since my sister and I have spoken to each other. We aren’t fighting. I just haven’t found the energy, courage, bravery to speak to her since my nervous breakdown in August. We’ve texted a few times. She even sent me a birthday card earlier this month.
Today, my sister texted me and I welcomed the connection. Her text was brief and consisted of just one question: “So how does it feel to be 39?”
I am the same age as my sister (who is now nearly 41) when she received the diagnosis — colon cancer. We both have Lynch Syndrome, and earlier this year during my own yearly colonoscopy my doctor removed my first polyp. Thank God, it hadn’t even become pre-cancerous yet.
But when I read her text this morning, I froze. I choked (and choked up). I didn’t know what to say. Tell my sister everything is just great? Or speak my truth.
My truth is that I feel heartbroken. I grieve the loss of the health I once possessed. I grieve the loss of my mind as I struggle to rise above the depression and menopause. But most of all, I grieve the idea of the person I thought I once was.
I am learning to let go of the version of myself and the life I had constructed in my mind. The super human strength I didn’t possess. The shield and armor I suited up with to hide my fear and pain. [To be honest, that strategy hadn’t been working for a long time anyway.]
My truth is that I haven’t looked at myself in a very long time. I don’t mean in the mirror. That’s easy compared to what I am referring. I mean a long time since I looked inside and acknowledged the darkness I have been avoiding.
How does 39 feel? The truth is that it feels like I am entering the most challenging time of my life. And I need to learn to grieve and forgive myself and to stop numbing myself to the pain.
But I didn’t tell her all that. Instead I texted back: “The jury is still out. But life is looking up.”
[A related side note: Today I met with my therapist Dr. Jasmine and she shared an interesting The Atlantic article about the U Curve, which is another way of conceptualizing the proverbial midlife crisis. I am hopeful, as the article asserts, that everything I’m experiencing has come to pass rather than come to stay.]
[In response to the Daily Prompt: Waiting]