Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Other Side of Me

I don't usually post twice in one day. In fact, I don't think I've ever done so. And I certainly don't want to take the spotlight off my featured authors (I had one blog tour post today and will have one of my regular featured author posts tomorrow.)! But, I've been sitting here watching the movie Regarding Henry with Harrison Ford, and I just felt absolutely compelled to write a post.

I literally broke out in tears when I watched the scene where Henry and Bradley (the physical therapist) were sitting in Henry's kitchen drinking a beer. Bradley told the story of how he hurt his knees and told Henry to ask him if he minded having bad knees. The moral of the story, of course, is that Bradley would have never become a physical therapist if he hadn't hurt his knees playing football, and so never would have met Henry, and so on and so forth. And then Bradley tells Henry not to listen to anyone else tell him who he is, that he'll figure that out himself, eventually.

Before June 27, 2014, I was Henry. I was a hugely busy, type A personality, always challenging myself physically and mentally to be the best that I could be. Likely a result of my poor self-esteem; I was always trying to be better (not even really knowing who I wanted to be better than, or FOR who). And like Henry, disaster struck rapidly in my life.

For me, the tragedy was cancer. At 37 years old, a diagnosis of cancer sounded like a death sentence to me and my family. The fact that I had to be hospitalized alone so far away from home for my treatments didn't help any. And over eight months of intensive treatments, some of which almost took my life, I've returned home to begin my journey to figure myself out.

I'm no longer strong enough to return to my before cancer job (I was a manager at an auto parts store, requiring lifting, moving, and sometimes installing heavy parts, climbing up and down ladders, and so on), and I may never return there. I have good days but I have bad days too. The post-chemotherapy fungal infection that took nearly a year to treat has left scar tissue deep in my organs, and this scarring causes intense pain, sometimes preventing me from taking a full breath. I'm still underweight, still get chilled easily, and don't sleep well. I have a constant ringing in my ears, the thundering sound of a thousand cicadas. This is part of who I am now.

But ask me if I mind having suffered through cancer. Because you know what? I'm learning that I really don't! After all, had I not been sick with cancer, my dear friend Denise Mercer Blackwell might not have friended me on Facebook. If that hadn't happened, I may have never published in print. (I'd already published Once Upon a Western Way through Smashwords in April of 2012, and it was only available digitally.) Had I not been encouraged to publish by Denise, I likely wouldn't have written my other two books (My Butterfly Cancer certainly wouldn't exist if I'd not had cancer), or even started this blog, which has come a long way in a short time. I wouldn't have had the time if I still had my "regular" job to go to.

So, here I am, with you, my readers. I'm still learning who I am now, and at times I have a hard time letting go of the woman I used to be. Sure, I'm not a best-seller (though no one can know the future), and I don't expect to be a best-seller. But stories are written to be told or read, and as long as I know I have readers out there, I'll keep doing what I'm doing. I love writing! I love reading, too! Eventually, I'll learn to love the woman I am now!

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