It is the last day of January and the first post I have made in this year. I am climbing out of a hole, started in part by the loss of Bruno; although truly we did not lose him. Mostly, it is a hole dug in my own mind by my own thoughts, shoved along by the mighty effect of the drugs that are supposed to save me from cancer.
It is an outrageous situation.
Now, cancer may return anyway, even with the drugs, and cancer may never come back to me, even without the drugs. Tricky, isn’t it, speculating which path your body will ultimately choose? I was all in on what “modern” medicine had to offer, being the good girl that I am (my tongue was fairly deep in my cheek there). I am also a tough little cookie; I can take a hit and get back up.
But I can’t take this.
A body gets used to the things it was given by nature. Even at 58 years of age, where the supply is low, it turns out having some small amount of estrogen available still matters — and not just to my body. No, it matters even more to my mind. You see, estrogen is a hormone and it crosses the blood-brain barrier. The drugs take away the estrogen, preventing it from being utilized biologically. Everywhere, including the brain. Funny how things work, but I was all focused on the physical side effects; the challenges given to my body to experience, but my mind? Well, that’s just thoughts and thoughts you can manage, right?
Here’s how I would describe it to you. Normally (and I use the term “normally” quite loosely here), I have seven doors in my mind, each one representing some composite element of my personality. Each door is familiar and the room behind it equally so. I know what is on the shelves and I know what to do with it. Then, suddenly one day I am aware of another door, door number eight, if you will.
It is like the scene in a horror movie, where the girl creeps down the darkened hallway toward the door with light shining from behind it while ominous music plays. “Don’t go in, don’t go in!”, you scream. “Run, you idiot!” But, compelled by some power beyond herself, she draws closer and closer and turns the handle. Now, there is no going back. She is sucked into the holy terror that inevitably waits for her there.
Welcome to Door Number Eight.
What lies behind my Door Number Eight is distortion; dark and forcefully disturbing thoughts about my worth, the harsh ugliness of the world, and the inevitableness of pain, loss, and death. I may have been more immune to this if not for the reality of the world we actually do live in and the fact that I rage on sweeping tides of anger and dismay over what squats in the Presidential suite and all that goes with that. Door Number Eight pretty much had me at “hello”.
It took me a while to understand that I did not create Door Number Eight, the drugs did, or, at the very least, they cleared the path and lighted up what lived behind it, created the compelling urge to go there. So, it seems a simple solution: Stop. Taking. The. Drugs.
Simple, except for that whole cancer thing.
I am almost there. This was already my second shot at a drug regime; a shot I must now call failed. I have one more regime I can try and I will, but not right now. I would like to get my head back. I would like to ease myself away from the presence of Door Number Eight, not feel it tugging on me so. It takes a while to wash such things out of you, like how desire lingers even after leaving the worst of relationships. We have all been in those shoes.
But, hey, I am not just sitting still here. I am pouring all the love and light I do have to offer into anything and everything I can. I am making beautiful things with my hands.
I am taking care of Marco, as much as he is taking care of me, helping him recover from knee surgery.
I am going through training to become a Guardian ad Litem for children in the court system — a story for another day, but a heart-opening one.
And this week, I participated in the rescue of a dog that had traveled deep into the territory behind his own Door Number Eight. He almost became the truth I know, but do not want to see — that not all dogs can be saved. Still, I thought about the lifelines, large and small, that are keeping me here, helping me maneuver through my own pitchy darkness and dammit, I wanted him to pull on the rope, give us a sign that he could give change a try. His angel came in the form of Stephanie from Animal Services, who helped him become the submissive dog he needed to be in order to take the next step on his journey of rehabilitation. Bless you, Stephanie, bless you. You don’t even know a tenth of the good you did.
We are all on this path together. I have the amazing goodness of my best love, Gordy, to cling to, the presence of my beloved sister, Kim, to steady myself by, and, of course, the unspeakable beauty and preciousness of the animals in my life. Full immersion therapy.
I will be fine. I am fine. The drugs and I may need to part ways and, if so, I will find the strength and peace of mind to accept that. Outrageous as this situation may seem to me, I have found the place in me that speaks my truth, however timidly, and it whispers — whatever life is given to me as yet to live, I most certainly want to live it as myself.