The first year of divorced life is legit like living in a bipolar fever dream of mood swings and emotional roller coaster rides.
Die hard readers will remember when I wrote in a previous blog that when the writing bug hits me, it goes something like this….
The first sentence of a blog or article pops in my head and then it just hangs out, swirling and looping in my head until I write about it. That’s been happening this weekend but the only problem is that the first line is all I have! So here it is.
The first year of divorced life is legit like living in a bipolar fever dream of mood swings and emotional roller coaster rides. I have been vacillating between anger, gratitude, peace, frustration, happiness and everything in between. Granted, a few contributing factors have been exacerbating these emotions, (ahem) menopause, Pinktober, working more than usual,…..you get it.
There have been a few new discoveries about my ex that have rekindled some anger, new feelings of betrayal, renewed trust in everything happening for a reason, so yeah, a lot of the mood swings towards anger and frustration have been surrounding him.
Part of me feeds on the anger like an ugly, bald vulture feeding on a bloated carcass. Now there’s a visual, huh? I realize that I can get stuck in the anger and let it suck me in. It gives me a place to focus all the blame, the anxiety and the depression. I don’t like the way it makes me feel though, so here’s the question….how do I let it go?
Anger is a huge part of the grieving beast, I know that. I wish there was a meditation or yoga pose or pill I could take that would make it all move to the back seat. There probably is all of those things, a meditation, a pose and a pill that will make me feel all kinds of happy and “moved on” but is that really the right way to go about it? Probably the meditation and the yoga but I think I’ll pass on the pill for the time being.
I think I do this every October. I get stuck in the loop of anxiety and stress, it’s just this year I have a divorce to hang it on. I was thinking recently about this being my first October dealing with that PTSD style anxiety that a lot of us survivors experience, as a single person, but really it doesn’t feel any different from when I was married. I had stopped talking to him about it and he had stopped being interested in it. I’m pretty sure he, like a lot of people who have never experienced cancer think I should just be able to move on and let it go. But cancer is like the gift that keeps on giving.
Breast cancer is particularly brutal because you can’t change your clothes without being reminded every time you look in the mirror. The scars, the numbness, the feelings of being less than whole, less like….dare I admit….a real woman. When I had my double mastectomy I made the conscious decision to not have nipple reconstruction, to the disappointment of my cosmetic surgeon. Instead, I knew I wanted to have non-traditional tattooing. It took me three years to decide what I wanted tattooed but when I finally decided I knew it was the right choice for me. You see, reconstructed breasts are completely numb. Those nerves in that part of the body have been completely annihilated and will never feel sensation again. Because of the numbness, what better canvas for tattooing, amiright?
I chose lotus flowers. Lotus flowers are beautiful flowers that can’t grow in clean water. They have to grow in the muck and the mud, and what better metaphor for cancer than something beautiful that comes from something so ugly? It’s a great idea, right? They really are beautiful and I’ve named them the “Tattoobies”….well, they are a great idea in theory. Now that I’m single, I have the thoughts of dates, boyfriends, lovers who to my horror, will see me with flowers tattooed on my breasts that are also marred with horizontal scars from armpit to middle chest. Not a pretty, nor romantic sight.
My tattoo artists’ sketch
Do I regret the Tattoobies? Absolutely not. Am I proud to be a breast cancer survivor? 100% YES! Am I completely horror-struck with the idea of showing my scarred and altered body to someone new? Yes, completely. It was one of the first thoughts I had when I got divorced. My friends and loved ones are quick to tell me that there are men who will be totally into them, find them endlessly attractive and will be moved to tears by their beauty (ok, I exaggerated on that last part). Someday I will have to pull the trigger and find out, but now is not that time.
I am now, and will be for the forseeable future…single. Happily single. I want only my dog Chewy and Bruce the Body Pillow for company in my bed, and maybe my overweight fat cat Bleu the Siamese-Manx who occasionally graces me with his presence. Anyone else, I’m not interested, I’m not ready and I’m unwilling to lower the walls that have been solidly built over these last 11 months. Yes! 11 months. I can’t believe next month will be the anniversary of ending my marriage.
I know there are a lot of you out there who will happily drag out October in order to hold off the holidays a little bit longer. As for me, November 1st can’t get here fast enough. Then the pink crap in the stores can go away, people can stop posting stupid “campaigns” to promote breast cancer awareness like “free the boobies” and “take off your bra for the ta-ta’s”. What those campaigns do for cancer, I will never know. Please make it stop.
Well, looky there, I guess I did have more to talk about outside of the line about the mood-swing fever dream that is the first year post divorce. I wish I could promise that the remainder of October will be breast cancer topic-free, but alas, I think I would be lying.