It hasn’t been an easy week for me, if I’m being honest. Though, it started off remarkable! Maybe coming off my amazing weekend away with Chris kick started an amazing start to the week…We were refreshed and ready to get going into the rest of radiation (even though it had only just begun.) The picture that we took Monday after his appointment indicating 5 down and 25 more to go was lovely, energetic and so full of positivity! It was authentic!
I passed a boy on our drive home that day who had his head hanging out the car window with a giant, contagious smile on his face and before I knew it, I was smiling back and waving to him! He waved back and I thanked Jesus for the blessing of that moment…for that boy’s smile and the way it reassured me in knowing that we’re not alone and all would be and will be well.
Then Monday was over and Tuesday arrived. That’s when things for me didn’t feel as lovely, energetic and positive anymore. I dug deep though, to find it, but not deep enough, evidently. Tuesday night came and I hid under the blanket on the couch and reserved my few words for the loving ones that are used when tucking the kids into bed and saying good night. I mustered one word answers to my husband’s inquiries about my state-of-being. It was just enough to maintain some sort of status-quo and keep my head above water just enough.
I went to sleep that night praying on the hope that with the rising of the next day, so would my spirits and I’d see clearly again and my digging would turn up what had been so lovely, energetic and positive two days before.
Upon waking Wednesday though, I couldn’t find my source of it. I dug, but to no avail. What is my source of these things I search for? Chris? Yea, in a lot of ways, of course! I am always thankful for his outlook and winning attitude about all of this. I wouldn’t trade that at all! Is Jesus my source? Yes! Obviously and definitely! Jesus is love and joy. But not on Wednesday morning. Pastor Steve once taught me that God is always there, it’s us who turn away from Him. That was true in this case. I wouldn’t let Him shine in me and though me. I was so dark and deep in dissatisfaction that I cried all the way to Denver for Chris’s appointment. We didn’t speak a word to each other. I felt like if I shared my feelings of defeat and sadness that I would fail my husband. That I would fail this whole entire adventure we’re on! I don’t want to be a negative source in Chris’s life and appear at all that I’m not the biggest flag-waver on the team. I feel like we have an image to uphold and if I don’t pull my weight, then I fail. He doesn’t make me feel that way. I make myself feel that way. And, it’s too early to give in to these feelings of defeat! We still have four weeks to go of radiation drives!! As I look back, I see that my crying constantly and withholding love and communication from my husband was the biggest hit. I just didn’t know how or what to say about it.
Wednesday night arrived and I wasn’t better. And, here’s what I mean by “wasn’t better.” If I would find myself turning toward brighter light, as it were, and coming out of my cave a little bit, even the slightest bit, I would turn back right away because there’s this weird phenomenon I find that makes me feel like sometimes its easier and more comforting to stay in the discontent, anger, sadness and even bitterness and dare I say it, resentment that I feel toward the situation. Not toward Chris, but toward the tumor in his brain. I feel like if I give in to the smiling and the laughing and the music and the light, then I am accepting the reality of what has had to become our norm and that would mean that I must like it. Please understand that I do not like it. On good days, I can accept it and seem fine and…GO TEAM! But, I am leery because I don’t want to give the situation the appearance of me being happy in it all the time.
I prefer the happiness, though.
I found a quote in one of my Instagram feeds from a woman who I have grown to love and have the utmost respect for. She endures unique challenges in her mothering and my heart pours love for her daily. But this quote that I read on her feed really resonated with me…So I will share it here…(Even though it is written around the subject of parenting, I feel like I can easily apply it to my life and trade out the word ‘parenting’ for ‘husband’s brain tumor and daily radiation treatments, etc.’ I think what she quoted comes from some writing called, “I Will Look Up…”)
A dear friend had confessed her need to grieve. Because of the unique challenges surrounding her (parenting) life, she faced continual opportunities for resentment, bitterness and frustration. But the hardest part is that her challenge is also a gift. And certainly she is diligent to give thanks for that gift, but she also needs to grieve the fact that her gift also requires a radically altered lifestyle from all those around her. Her words: ‘I know I shouldn’t feel this way,’ Says who? … The honesty makes space for transformation. The confession makes space for freedom…Shame comes from hiding. From holding onto all the ways we shouldn’t feel …there will be times to get away, and there will be times to ask for extra strength to stick it out and just stay put. But we won’t know the answer until we acknowledge all ‘the ways we shouldn’t feel’ and let God sort through them on his own.” It’s OK to feel your truths, because it allows you room to transform.
I’m so grateful to have read this. It is spot on. It validates the days that I feel guilty for being less-than-glad about it all. Part of my battle is keeping up with Chris on the positivity front. I love him for that quality, though. We’re coming up on 20 years together in April and I have always known him to be this way. But, in all these years we’ve never gone through what it feels like to be yanked from our normal into the normal of a cancerous brain tumor. And that despite the excellent prognosis, this is our reality forever. Scan after brain scan for the rest of his life to make sure it doesn’t return again is what we look forward to…and with it the belly leaps and the deep breaths of anxiety and anticipation of what each scan will turn up. It will get easier. I do anticipate that.
My defenses went back up in a big way this second time around, when the brain tumor came back and decided to have cancer in it. I’m not naive anymore. I know how precious life is and how quickly it can change. Turns out, those defenses are the binding that keep me from some of the things I hold most precious, such as ….Letting the light of love and joy in (and out) all the way; Giving into and feeling the music; Accepting Chris’s arms around me and really letting myself melt into them. I always told him that his arms was my favorite place to be, they were my safety and now I don’t let myself be there. I walk the gray line between care-giver, mother, normal-maker, wife, reality-keeper…I often can’t find authentic affection because my defenses tell me that it isn’t safe yet and my.defenses.are.my.enemy. It isn’t safe.
So, as I read over those words, “cancerous brain tumor” in the paragraph two above this one, part of me is like, “Seriously Jen? Don’t be so dramatic, it could be so much worse and it’s not. Look at all the blessings you have so BUCK UP!”
It’s true. The blessings are abundant. A silver lining here, is that I now search for the blessings and recognize them much more than ever before. That part is a gift. As my thoughts go back to that boy in the car Monday afternoon, I realize I need to keep that image readily available to me. In my core I know it represents the essence of what my family and I strive to be. Carefree, happy, content. Lovely. Energetic. Positive.