All Tied Up in Knots
Something has been bothering me for the last few weeks, but I haven’t been able to figure out quite what it is until today. I had a different post almost ready to go, but I think I want to tell you about this instead.
Fall has been my favourite season for years. I love it when the weather starts to cool, but it’s still sunny and the leaves on the trees start to turn colour. I even welcome rainy days and love the cozy feeling of putting on a sweater for the first time every year.
But fall was when I started to feel really sick back in 2017, and in 2018 I was recuperating from surgery and starting chemo and was a skeletal 113 pounds. Fall 2019 and 2020 was when I found out the cancer was back and last fall wasn’t exactly a cakewalk either, even though I was feeling better physically.
Life has been good though this fall. We managed to get away for a few weeks together at the end of August and the beginning of September and had a great time reconnecting and just having fun. We found out in October that we’re going to be grandparents next May. I’m slowly cobbling together a new life and figuring out my way forward, and it’s exciting. I’ve been feeling really good, and most of the time believe that I’m going to be ok. We’ve started to plan for the future again, one that includes me, and it feels right.
All of those things are true, so why do I feel so anxious all of a sudden?
It’s because I’m afraid.
It’s like I’m standing in my house looking out the open door. It looks beautiful outside, bright and shiny, warm and welcoming. Everything’s in technicolour out there, the birds are chirping and I can barely stand it, it’s so beautiful. But inside the house is everything I know now and have become comfortable with. It’s a mess, but it’s a comfortable mess, and I’m afraid to step outside. Not because it’s scary out there, but because it’s so beautiful.
What happens if I step out into it and it’s all taken away?
What if I allow myself to be excited about becoming a Grandma but find out next month that the cancer has spread? What if I never get to see this new little person that I already love? Or worse, what if I do? What if I fall completely in love and then have to say goodbye?
What if this new life of mine doesn’t work out?
What if I don’t have the time I need to accomplish the things I want to? I still want to write a book. I want to learn Spanish and Punjabi, mostly so I can eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. I want to learn some dance moves and I have stacks of books that I still want to read.
What if, what if, what if…?
At some point, I have to stop running from the fear of the “what ifs” and turn around and face them, and it seems as though today is the day. I don’t really want to - it’s much easier to pretend that they're not there, but I can’t. I’ve reached the tipping point and need to feel some of this stuff so I can let it go.
I acknowledge that I am afraid, but when I turn and look behind me I can see how far I’ve come. I’ve wrestled with some pretty big giants and have come out victorious.
I acknowledge that the way ahead is scary, but again, when I look at how far I’ve come I feel brave. I am brave. I feel bigger and stronger, and suddenly those looming giants don’t feel as large.
I acknowledge that I’m scared to lose the life that I have, but I also feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for what I’ve been given.
I’m worried about our finances because not working for almost five years has taken its toll, and I worry about Glenn because he's had to carry it all. But again, when I look back and see how the universe has provided when we needed it, I relax a little, that this is just a moment in time and things will get better.
So I’m talking to all of those scared parts today. I’m holding them all on my lap, snuggling them like I would do with one of my kids when they were little. I’m asking them what’s wrong and then reassuring them, reminding them that it’s ok, I’m in charge and taking care of them, and they’re starting to relax finally.
I can feel the knot in my stomach starting to let go. I’m starting to relax as the tears are flowing (told you I was good at that), and I’m able to look at things rationally again.
The truth always comes back to me in this very practical, down-to-earth way: We’re all dying someday. It's weirdly comforting to me. It's a reminder that I'm really no different than anyone else.
Why am I spending my time worrying about it? In fact, I'm thankful that I've had the reminder. It's the reason that I see the world in technicolour.
Now get up, step outside, and live your life.
So I’m poking my head outside, feeling the warmth of the sun and smelling the freshness in the air (figuratively, because it’s literally freezing outside).
I'm not sure if I'm ready to step out yet, but I’m getting there, crouching down to tie my shoes.
Now, can somebody please help me up?