Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Miles to Go

*blows dust off*

Today my friend Heidi posted this, a beautiful, poignant piece about how she's spent the past week.  This post was especially resonant to me because I spent some hours last week in the same headspace.  I could write a whole post -- and probably will -- about fear, but instead of hijacking her Facebook comments, I actually felt an urge to write and so decided to document my experiences for myself.

About a week and a half ago, I went in for my annual breast MRI. My doctor recommends that I have a mammogram AND an MRI annually because of my family history with breast cancer.  Long story short, both my maternal grandmother and my mother have both had breast cancer.  For many years I had sort of a resigned attitude about my chances of having breast cancer -- it was more a matter of WHEN, not if.  In a way, I thought my attitude was my armor.  When it came - and it would -- I would be ready to fight.  I would be that bad-ass woman who did whatever it took to beat cancer.  I would be strong, I would be confident and most importantly, I wouldn't be afraid. 

Looking back on that, it seems almost laughable now.  And I felt a little bit ashamed of how quickly those feelings were squashed by a feeling of dread when the radiologist called to say that they saw something on my MRI and that I needed to come in for an ultrasound.  I literally felt a wave of fear wash over my body.  I felt it most in the back of my knees (my kneepits as my daughter calls them) -- that place that starts to feel kind of funny when I stand too close to a precipice. 

I don't say this lightly when I say that I thank God that I only had to wait a day and a half for my test. In that short period of time, however, fear took over.  I was ill tempered and spoke harshly to my children. Everything my husband did was on my last nerve. From the outside, it was probably obvious that my fear was making me act this way, but 40 years of squashing fear and pushing it down and pretending it's something else is a hard habit to break. Over the past year my awesome therapist has made me work hard to identify the things I fear and has helped me to be vulnerable and admit them.  (If you're looking for a good therapist, let me know and I'll hook you up -- she's amazing!)

Blessedly, what they saw turned out be nothing serious, but the experience has forced me to look at myself and how I respond to stress, fear and pressure.  I've come a long way in the last year, but I feel like I still have a ways to go.  As my friend Wendi so succinctly put it, I have "miles to go before I sleep."  And thank God for that.