Fear

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Fear, what a simple word but what a toll it takes on me.  Living with a chronic illness is a fearful experience because you never know what lies ahead.  While healthy people may feel like this too, being sick, adds a whole layer of fear and anxiety to living out your life.

I was never afraid of the future when I was healthy.  I am smart, competent, rational and very capable of taking care of myself.  I  had a great job, with a fantastic salary, lived in a NYC apartment and my choices and possibilities were endless.  Then I got sick and my choices were very limited.

Until recently, I never realized how my fears were limiting me more than maybe they should be.  But how do I know when my fears are rational and justified or when they are manufactured because I’m just scared.

In 2008, about a year before I became ill, I met someone and was in a committed relationship.  During the length of my illness, we have been on again, off again more times than a 10 year old light bulb (good analogy because he’s an electrician..lol).  We are connected by something that not many can see.   He has helped me through so much and his love for me really hasn’t wavered.  Yet my fears have continually forced me to run from this man.  Each time this has happened, I blamed his actions and his treatment of me on my running away.  While he may not have always handled the situations to my liking, was my response of shutting down justified.

How do I know if my fears are rational and I shouldn’t be in a relationship or if  my fears are not rational and causing me to live a lonelier life than I need to.

What are my fears?  There are many, some related to him and some related to general life situations.

The top fears that come to mind relating to him are:

  • Do I have enough energy to put into a relationship?
  • Do I want to conserve my energy for myself?
  • Will I be able to keep him happy and content?
  • Will I be able to take care of him if he becomes ill?
  • Will he leave me if I get much sicker?
  • Can I survive another loss if something happens to him?

I’m not really sure how to combat these fears.  They are ingrained in me for so long now that they are part of me, but now that I finally recognized them maybe I can start working on minimizing my fear and anxiety.

I’m not sure I will be successful, but unless I try to work on myself, my fears may be more limiting than my illness itself.

Grief

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This is what I’ve been doing for the last 3 months, crying.   I lost my mother, who was the kindest, most selfless, understanding and giving person.  She was my confidant, my friend, my housemate and my anchor.  While I can’t say her illness came on suddenly, her death was pretty quick and while I had 2 months to prepare for it, you can never fully prepare for it.

7 years ago, at the age of 82 my mom was diagnosed with stage 2/3 breast cancer.  She had a lumpectomy and went through radiation.  We closely monitored her situation and every 3 months went to another doctor, whether it was her oncologist or breast surgeon or radiologist.  She went for annual mammograms and sonograms and always got the green light.  We thought we were one of the lucky families, but then our luck ran out.

In 2015, my mom took a terrible fall  and was taken to the ER.  They did a body scan and that’s when we found out she had suspicious lumps on her lungs, although she didn’t have any symptoms.   My mom had said many times that if the Cancer comes back, she is doing nothing.  Her tag line was “whatever will be, will be”.  So that’s what she chose to do, nothing.  We didn’t biopsy the lumps, so there was no way to determine if this was a new cancer or if it was metastatic breast cancer.

The fall had left her with a broken wrist, broken nose and bruised legs and arms.  She was not able to live by herself anymore, so I moved in.  At first it was temporary, but then after living there for 3 months, I convinced her to let me move in permanently.

My mom loved her independence, even though she didn’t drive, she had lived alone for the past 3 years since my dad past.  Living with her was going to be an adjustment for both of us.  She lived in a very small 2 bedroom garden apartment, that was smaller than where I currently lived.  But there was no other choice and so that’s what we did.  I broke my lease and moved in.

I have many stories to tell about how we spent the final 3 years together, but let me fast forward to the end for now because that’s the emotion I’m currently dealing with.  The unrelenting GRIEF that I feel for her.  Yes, she past in December.  The cancer by this point had spread to her bones, liver, lung and brain.  From the time we found out to the time she past was 10 weeks.  We  only found out that it spread because she was in unrelenting pain down her curved spine.  I attributed that to old age and disc problems because by now she was 89.  But unfortunately, it was the CANCER eating away her spine.

The loss I feel can not be put into words, but those that have felt it know what I mean.  The hole in your heart, the loss of hearing her voice, the empty chair at the diner table.  I have a sister who is also suffering with the loss of our mom, but her grief is different than my grief.  I see the bed she died in everyday.  I look at the chair she used to sit in by the window and knit for hours on end.  I see the jumbo crossword puzzles books she loved and the mah jong card that provided her with endless hours of joy.

I am slowly starting to make some changes around the house, so that I am not haunted by the bad memories at the end, but rather embraced by the good ones we had during the last 3 years.

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I’m Back

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I haven’t written on my blog since 2014 and honestly had completely forgotten about it.  Recently I have been going through a very difficult time and decided to write a journal to try and get past my current situation.  I suddenly remembered about my blog and decided to search for it.  Well here I am and once again I’m ready to reveal my innermost thoughts, with the hope that it will free me and allow me to move forward.

I’m happy to share these thoughts with whomever wants to read them, but I’m really doing this for me.  I need to release my demons and fears and figure out a way to move forward because life is passing me by.