Metamorphosis

Hell, I’m not afraid of myself anymore, but I sure the hell am afraid to be myself right now.

Change can be a frightening thing and can cause us to fear what may arise from it. One of my biggest fears is failure. I always pose the question, is the grass greener on the other side? before making any decisions. Seriously, I’m not a cow but the question is relevant.

It’s crazy to think that I never put much thought into the possible repercussions that stem from changing things up when I was younger. Now, I deal with hesitancy and indecisiveness over every little decision. Buy milk or not buy milk? Do I run to the store, or do I make do without?

Needless to say, I berate myself constantly and call myself a chicken shit often. Too many mistakes in my past and now I can’t decide if I want to split the Oreo or not split the Oreo, that is the question. When it comes to Oreos, change it up I say, you’ll never know if you don’t try! In regards to other aspects, I skittishly dance around the outskirts.

Ch, ch, chaaannngggeee…

I think we all know that we will change over time, well I hope that’s what most people understand about human beings and life. I knew that there were events and experiences out there that could make me change in ways I could never imagine and all of it could be completely out of my control. I just never thought it would happen to me. Yup, famous last words.

Laughable, isn’t it? Thinking that this wouldn’t happen to me was just plain ignorant. Believe me, I was never going to have a sick kid nor be the ‘scholarly type’ because that wasn’t going to be me. Yeah right. As time and life would have it, I suddenly morphed because I felt I had to change and adapt to survive. I never saw it coming, nor was I even remotely ready for that kind of adjustment.

I’m no magnificent butterfly, a common plain moth perhaps, and I’m perfectly fine blending in with my surroundings and not boldly standing out. I’d like to think that I am a wallflower, but when I open my mouth these days, it’s very apparent that I’m no longer the same as I once was. Let me tell ya, I don’t seem to fit in anywhere and prefer the company of a select few.

Even then, I’m finding the world a very lonely place and I also seem to suffer some kind of social anxiety after dealing with all this stuff. Isn’t that interesting? You want to be with people but you don’t…what the hell? Maybe one day I’ll figure it all out.

Revealing, it’s harder than it looks

I don’t like to rock the boat, so much so, that as far as I will go is to gently nudge it secretly when I feel it’s drifting off course. I only do it because I don’t want to be a useless bystander. I’ve always preferred to be invisible but I know that I can’t conceal my true self forever. I refuse to live a lie.

Revealing myself hasn’t always been a positive experience, but I need to remain honest in who I have become and accept that there’s no going back. No more unicorns and rainbows for this gal because the path I had to walk, was a wake up call from hell. No amount of head covering, pillow hugging and heel clicking is going to save my ass.

Warning signs should be displayed long before walking these assorted paths but the problem is, you never see it coming. Consider this the warning. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m telling them what to do or think because that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m just sharing. I have to say, explaining things in writing has been a challenge, so please bear with me.

Normal, what’s that?

If you’re in a situation right now where you find yourself changing in order to survive and it’s not entirely in a way that you approve of or accept (as I felt at first), acceptance of your new self is okay. May I suggest that you try and embrace it. It can makes things worse if you try and fight it, believe me I’ve been there…and look at me now! Ha! I’m kidding!

First things first, you are not alone. That sixth sense thing that kind of nudges you in a direction that you hadn’t considered, might turn out to be exactly what you need to survive. I’m not talking about the sixth sense thing where you smell dead people either…I mean see not smell sorry. I refer to the drastic change in my life as my metamorphosis.

If you’re wondering if this metamorphosis is normal, I can’t answer because what the hell is normal anymore? I am certainly not normal…admitting it is the first step…or so I’m told. I’m going to say that the change I experienced was possibly a survival mechanism and that’s eventually what prompted me to accept it.

Born of trauma? Quite possibly. Why else would this have occurred if not to ensure future survival via self-preservation and protection? That’s just scratching the surface in regards to survival but socially, I’m now a pariah. Apparently I have some pretty fierce teeth, or maybe my teeth are just really unhealthy and people don’t find that appealing. I’ll have to check.

Isn’t there supposed to be safety in numbers? So why this? Nature’s oxymoron? Or maybe I just haven’t found my ‘herd’? Seriously. Enough with the cattle thing, geez. I’m still figuring shit out by the look of it.

In the red corner, me. And in the blue corner, also me

For me, it was frustrating to fight with myself over accepting what I was becoming because in the end, I realized that I could never win that fight. Someone had to lose. I’m not one for a draw, so someone absolutely had to lose. I’m a little on the competitive side, especially when it comes to competing with myself. If it’s me fighting me, I guess that means that no matter what, I still lose?

My old life and my new life, were complete opposites in many ways and couldn’t possibly exist harmoniously. I tried to synchronize them but that was just a confusing mess. What a head game that was.

I can attest that this inner conflict only created and invented new problems that took the form of a circular argument. That was the very last thing I needed while I was navigating Shit Creek atop Turd Mountain. How’s that for conflict? Where’s my turd stick, it’s time for battle.

I was literally kicking my own ass constantly and I have to say that this fight was beyond dirty. I beat myself up pretty good. Ludicrous and insane? Yup, that’s what that was. And counterproductive, a waste of time and a complete waste of energy. It was tricky and messy but alas, that’s life.

There’s consequences in fighting

My fight was lonely and painful, and the rejection of myself hurt more than the rejection from others. At one point, dealing with both forms of rejection simultaneously was when I realized that if I didn’t start with self acceptance, then how could I expect others to do the same? Whether or not someone else agreed, was irrelevant to me by that point. But that’s where isolation came into play.

I had to live with myself, not them. And that’s tough to say, especially if it comes from loved ones or those you’re close to. I was fighting a change that was necessary but I was also fighting it because it went against the grain. I was (and still am truthfully) afraid of rejection based upon other’s perspective and perception.

Oddly enough, that was not the time to be a silent follower. It was time to step up and take whatever control that I could. I had to separate myself from the herd (I know, more cattle references) and learn to trust my instincts. I suppose that could be considered willingly isolating myself too, for self preservation purposes.

It’s ridiculous that I feared criticism more than a horrible outcome because of peer pressure. That’s a horrible tragedy, and one that shouldn’t even come into consideration during difficult times. I felt that way most days but I think much of it came from myself because I hadn’t yet accepted who I was becoming and why.

Putting the cart before the horse

I had hoped to emerge (before I even began this journey) and pick back up where I left off in my old life. Even though everything had already changed, I felt that going back was still an option. I feel that that’s a normal response for nearly anyone. But what I found was that those around me may not have been as keen as to who I’d now become and beyond that, I now appeared vastly different than everyone else.

Perhaps it was witnessing the start of my hard earned battle scars that scared them off? Or was it that I no longer lived in the same bubble and found much of the daily drama to be shallow and possibly time and energy wasting? I had no energy, so being selective of where I spent it was also a factor.

Maybe I had become boring because I wouldn’t engage in small talk. I preferred to discuss what I thought were the real issues at hand because my fears were now vastly different than before. Perhaps it was because I refused to be considered a stigma and just wanted to move forward and forget what I was dealing with. Maybe it’s because I refused to be considered something to be compared to because every struggle is different and deserves its own story.

Comparison is an ugly thing to use, especially as a measuring tool, to aid in putting something into context if someone feels that another is overreacting. I know my compassion and newly formed passion got in the way too. I was no longer the same and it was sometimes hard to accept and could be very isolating because there’s a trend towards avoiding those who are not similar. So many reasons that probably all apply.

My old life couldn’t survive without me

It’s funny that I thought I could just go back and return to the usual. Everything had changed. No one hit a pause button and made everyone else’s world stop, it was only mine. They continued moving forward within their own ‘track’ of life and mine completely stopped.

If life stops and becomes frozen for any length of time, sometimes it dies. My old life needed me present to keep it moving forward in order to survive but due to the circumstances, I had to check out. I think that if I’d fought to try and keep it alive, it would’ve created far more problems for me.

The familiarity and comfort of the old life I lived before was suddenly gone, much like the foundation I had been firmly planted on all these years. I felt like I was falling and I was flailing to keep myself somewhat supported and upright, while struggling to find new solid ground. The sense of security I had once felt, knowing that I’d awaken each day with the same usual outcome, was no longer present and I knew it to be false anyway.

Even knowing and understanding my own reactions and emotions to things was amiss. Suddenly, everything had changed and that was all gone. My old life had expired.

In some ways, maybe I should’ve given my dead old life a proper burial and goodbye. I could’ve ceremoniously put it in a box and held a memorial for it, followed by placing it beneath a headstone of sorts. That way I could revisit it whenever I felt the need and process my grief accordingly. I’m not sure that would’ve helped because I wasn’t prepared to mourn the life I once lived anyway.

I know I needed closure in order to move forward. Sounds silly, but the feelings I’d had were somewhat similar to losing Lea, now that I think about it. Eventually, I finally let go that my old life wasn’t meant to be. Letting go is sometimes the most healing thing to do and I began moving forward again after that.

On being terrified of my new damn fine self

Truthfully, I was terrified by who I had become and can’t blame others for being afraid too. After much reflection, this has been a very positive change for me. It’s a complete 180 degree turn, and something I never thought I’d become. All I can say is, it could’ve been worse.

I used to be extremely judgmental without appropriate contemplation and for this kind of drastic change of thought to occur, is uncharacteristic of me. I cannot un-see or deny what I’ve experienced and I cannot go back because of that. It’s a perplexing oddity, isn’t it?

I’ve become passionate about many things that never used to engage me which was a surprising bonus. People change, what more can I say? Who I see in the mirror, is no longer the same person I used to be and that’s okay. Obviously, my acceptance is still an ongoing process.

The only solution I felt that I had eventually, was to accept from within and be gentle with myself until I’d had enough time to adjust. Acceptance of the new me and embracing it fully despite everything and anything else in the world, was the best gift I have ever given myself. I hadn’t changed negatively, and seeing it that way was because of the conditioning my previous judgmental life had bestowed upon me.

I just want to be compassionate, passionate and at peace while giving back whenever I can, despite being jaded and sarcastic. Hey, I’m not perfect. Being cold and harsh was my biggest fear and I think I have surprised myself by not totally becoming that.

Acceptance

I still feel that I need time to adjust and sometimes my old misinformed opinions try to rear their weary heads to try and dissuade me of my self-acceptance. I have to remember that I cannot help who I’ve become and why. I do not want to live my life with my head buried in the sand and my ass high in the air for the taking. I wish others could understand but I wouldn’t wish anything on anyone that remotely resembles what I’ve gone through, just for the sake of understanding. That would be cruel.

I accept that there is no fault, and that this change is a by-product of life experience. Not all of us have the same experiences and transformations, and not all of these things will invoke the exact same realizations and adaptations. We are all unique. I accept that happily because life would be dull and lifeless if we were all the same. The extraordinary things that amazing humans do and create would be gone and that would be sad.

In continuing Caelan’s story, I feel that explaining myself is an integral part of why I am doing what I’m doing. I hope that by writing, I can extend some understanding as to why some of us end up on the paths we find ourselves on, after dealing with life’s challenges. In a society where we are sometimes quick to cast judgement without understanding, I hope to possibly shed some light on a possible explanation, especially when I get to Lea’s story. Dire circumstances can lead to drastic changes, even to character.

I seek to understand. If I am the moth, knowledge is the light I’m drawn to. I found myself in a situation where I felt the need to educate myself and understand in order to survive. That’s when my metamorphosis was complete. I went from being a mom to becoming a momcologist.

Intelligence comes in many forms

Yup, I willingly became a nerd. I’m kidding. I threw myself into learning everything and anything about my daughter’s cancer and all it encompassed. The questions that this led me to, made me seriously contemplate much of what I thought I’d known before and basically made me realize that I knew jack shit about fuck all. I had been a mindless regurgitator who lacked compassion and thought. Harsh to say of myself, but I’m being honest.

Becoming a nerdy momcologist (I say this with nothing but respect to the moms and dads and other family members who felt that they had to do the same in order to survive) changed me in ways I could never have imagined. Yes, it was a choice, but I feel that it was also a necessity. After standing beside my daughter and sister every step of the way, I saw two very different outcomes within the realm of cancer and have no regrets in regards to finally accepting my new self. It’s a difficult life to live at times but, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Yes, adult cancer is different than pediatric, but many of the experiences are the same. I support others in their quest to educate themselves in order to advocate for their loved ones. It was empowering for me and provided comfort in a different form.

The medical faculty is overloaded and I felt that I needed to be active in my daughter’s care because she is my priority. I didn’t to seek out information to become a threat to those treating my loved ones either. I needed to understand in order to accept what was and to help if I could. I am a mom after all.

I prefer to seek out others for their experiences because medical literature doesn’t convey their stories and accounts, in a real life situation. I encourage others to share in the telling of their stories because this is valuable information despite what the medical realm may think. I feel that we are all in this together and that communication is vital. We all play an integral part.

Ridicule and belittling has no place here

Despite every struggle I’ve had in accepting the need to acquire knowledge, even at the risk of being ridiculed, was worth it. As I’ve said before, many within the medical community and many others outside of it, need to change and stop telling people not to read and educate themselves. I was told this too.

If they don’t want us to read the wrong information, then they should provide it. Adequately please, not the bare bones garbage I’ve seen. Not all of us read the stupid shitty diagnosis questionnaires that are online, usually sponsored by drug companies nor the backs of cereal boxes to get our information. I also implore them to look in the mirror before passing judgement and confirm their sources as well.

I don’t appreciate being belittled and ridiculed. Many of us seek out much of the same information doctors and specialists consult, so we too can be on the same page. Communication is a two way street, usually with two or more parties contributing and respectfully listening. We should be able to access the same information to make informed decisions as to what’s best for ourselves, should we choose to. Not everyone chooses this path.

I do not have a medical license nor have I gone to school for an astronomical amount of time, but I too can read and learn to understand. It’s my time that I’m spending and no one else’s. I’m no expert and don’t claim to be. If that were the case, I’d have gone to medical school already.

I was motivated to educate myself because of past deplorable experiences, fear of the unknown and the fear of having someone else, who doesn’t even know me, decide what is ultimately best for me. I’ve witnessed some horrible things because of dismissal, the failure to listen and a lack of knowledge or complete ignorance far too many times. I don’t want to become a victim.

If that’s not a good enough reason for trying to figure shit out, then I don’t know what is. I truly want to see this and many other diseases eradicated and ensure that no others suffer. Somewhere down the line, someone has to do something because what’s happening right now, is nothing short of disgusting, with no change in sight.

What are we waiting for?

I await the day that we no longer ask ourselves, is the grass greener on the other side? To me, this implies that there’s a fence or a boundary of some sort. At this stage of the game in our civilization, maybe we should be asking why we still have a fence or a boundary?

Who puts them up and why are they still there? (I think I know the answer unfortunately) We should be able to answer the question for ourselves if the grass is truly greener in any other part of the pasture, right from where we stand before making a single move. Don’t you? Perhaps we should strive to make all of the grass greener and avoid having to contemplate the question at all. This query could go on forever, so I’ll stop there.

On that note, I refuse to stand around pissing and shitting on this grass, and contributing to it’s yellowing and eventual dying. I only seek to help nurture, grow and expand it, hopefully to leave it greener and more vibrant than it was before. There’s that hope coming out again.

Maybe we need to stop seeing and treating ourselves like cattle and step up and be the supposed intelligent, supportive and capable species that we proclaim ourselves to be. It’s long past time for the world’s metamorphosis. I just hope that a beautiful butterfly emerges and not an ugly Gremlin.

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