Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

When the phone rang on Wednesday morning, the black screen lighting up with my mother’s name and number, I had convinced myself that the biopsy had confirmed breast cancer. I was so sure that I had already mentally imagined an emotionally tortuous future where I nursed her through her last days, weakened from chemo and failed surgery, confessing how much she loved me as she slipped from life.

I know, it was a morbid fantasy, the kind that the mind spins when faced with such a shock. And my fantasy revealed that deep down I still hungered for some sort of meaningful, compassionate, and emotionally authentic relationship with my mother even though I had long since resigned myself to the status quo.

But when I answered the phone with a sharp intake of breath only to hear her say, “It’s not cancer!”, I was surprised and confused by my mixed emotions.

Yes, I was relieved. I congratulated her on the good news. I said something like, “You have a new lease on life.” I mean, isn’t that what a cancer scare is supposed to do? Make you reflect on your mortality and vow to celebrate life?

There was a clear pause. “Oh, I wasn’t going anywhere,” she dismissively replied. “You fight this sort of thing.”

It’s hard to convey this disconnect I heard in her voice and the sense of anger I immediately felt that at this moment in time, this event wasn’t more meaningful. I almost wanted the results to be positive so that she would start taking better care of herself, as fucked up as that sounds.

Life. It’s complicated. Complicated emotions. Never black and white. I feel like I was just in a hit and run where no one was hurt and there wasn’t even a scratch on the cars. And I was a little bit mad at her — mad at her for not having cancer! Daughter of the year award! But then, of course, I was relieved and it was as though someone flipped the channel back and said, “Now back to our regularly scheduled programming!”

So what’s the takeaway? What’s my epiphany if my mom isn’t having one herself? I think the big lesson that it shouldn’t take a cancer scare to try and have the meaningful, compassionate, and emotionally authentic relationship I’ve secretly been wanting all along.

The C Word

I find out tomorrow whether the relatively large lump in my mother’s left breast is cancerous. Till then I’m in a holding pattern and standing before two very distinct roads, one of which will carry me as a passenger along stops of chemotherapy and surgery, hoping that the final destination is not her premature mortality. The other road is a crisis averted, a miracle, and a renewed life. I can only pray it’s the later road.

Death and I haven’t been on close terms; He seems better acquainted with friends and colleagues and has yet to cast a pall over those I love. In fact I’ve only been to one funeral in my life, so color me blessed, but I know it’s a matter of time — sorry, not to be morbid. (That said, it seems like Death has been working overtime in 2012. Is it just me or are a lot of people suddenly dying this year? Or at least making huge deathlike transitions?)

I realize this is a rather dark update after a few months of radio silence. The irony is that apart this “oh shit” sort of development, life is good. I returned from my week long vacation in the Virgin Islands last February renewed in spirit and it provided me the turning point I needed after emotionally bottoming out. I then used the spring to strengthen friendships, find my community, and remember aspects of myself that I didn’t get to express in my relationship with K. More importantly, I found my sass and my confidence, shining a light I heretofore forgot that I had. While I’m not dating at the moment, the more I grow in confidence, the better lover I will eventually attract.

And so here I am at another major crossroads, dear reader, and I continue to be strong.

Stir Crazy

I’m wearing my three inch, open toe, Kate Spade patent leather stilettos around the apartment because I can. I’m listening to Queen’s greatest hits because I can. I don’t give a fuck that the Giants just won the Super Bowl. Maybe this is what it feels like to bottom out, as Ann Perkins similarly experienced in Season 3 of Parks and Recreation after Chris Traeger dumped her. While I’m not spending $700 on candles, I have been buying lots of clothes from Ann Taylor Loft and jonesing after very impractical purchases. Case in point, I really want an occasion to buy this skirt. It matches my Kate Spade shoes! Or how about this dress! I’ve also been buying lots of lingerie in the event that dating leads to more.

Someone needs to save me.

This is what happens when I spend two days by myself.

Whee! Shopping!

Oh. OH! I just remembered. I’m going to St. John and Tortola in two weeks! Whee!

Maybe shopping and Caribbean travel is my antidote to my burgeoning existential crisis?

Edit: This post may have been influenced by Prosecco, Queen, and too much alone time.

The Void

I’ve been having a lot of thoughts lately. Big, soul searching thoughts. In many ways it wasn’t until K moved out in early December that I was able to move on, to grieve, and go through an emotional process that was otherwise delayed.

I’m not going to lie — it’s been tough. Just when I begin to think I’m gaining on new ground, I cycle back into the grief that claws at my heart and forces me to take a hard look at reality. Who am I? What do I want? Where am I going. Just your normal existential crap.

Bear with me, reader. As much as it pains me to wallow, wallow I must. For now. Continue reading

Let it Unfold

And here we sit
On the nature of that which is coming
New light
New ground
New love
And this is my psalm to you, oh dear reader
In luxurious space we await
To heed that which will come
This new life
New love
New wants
A new ocean for us to cross
Too much has been assumed.
Let it unfold.

Expansion

K moved out on December 5th. In many ways I was ready for it, tired of the in between and her growing pile of boxes. In other ways I was surprised by the amount of emotion I felt, at times overwhelming, when I had so naively thought I had moved on. My therapist likened it to repeatedly visiting a terminal patient in the hospital. It is only when the patient dies after months of waiting that you can finally grieve. Ready as I was to move on, there was a shock in coming home that evening and feeling her void like a punch in the gut. My loss was no longer abstract. And I felt a tangible sense of emptiness.

In the days afterward I struggled to fill the space, buying a new rug and moving this here and that there, but the expansion felt strange. I went to parties that I may have not gone to before and met new people outside of my social circle. My outward steps were shaky like that of a toddler. Then again, all of these feelings are rather normal. Just as it’s normal to feel down this time of year, my recent separation all the more acute. Continue reading

Intersection

You know that feeling you get when you’re out, doing an errand, and you look across the street and see your ex with her new girlfriend? Yeah, that happened to me. Yesterday to be exact. In Park Slope. I don’t even live in Park Slope.

I’d like to think that I held my head up high, waved hello to K, and looked Jess powerfully in the eye, asserting my authority. But no, snapping out of my 10 seconds of panic and paralysis, I scampered up 5th Avenue before they could see me in something akin to a fugue state. Continue reading

Hecate Moon

In astrology, the Scorpio archetype, one of twelve archetypes describing the stages in the human experience, takes us by the hand and leads us into the underworld. Sometimes we are snatched, just as Persephone was in Greek mythology, and brought down into the dark against our will where we are irrevocably changed. Therefore the sign of Scorpio speaks to any experience that transforms us through the shadow, through death and powerful rebirth.

I mention this because today is the New Moon and it falls in the sign of Scorpio. My experience with this archetype expressed via a lunar lens is that of emotional discomfort. Indeed Scorpio speaks to those experiences that are emotionally uncomfortable — sex, death, and soul bearing intimacy. It likes to pick at the scabs and pull out all the thoughts we’ve stashed away in the dark recesses of our psyche. And Scorpio’s sole function is to get us to purge that which no longer serves us just as death naturally transmutes the physical body into another substance. Continue reading

Keep On Keepin’ On

I had a rather abrupt realization the other day. I love being single.

The thing about healing after heartbreak is that it isn’t a binary state — one day you’re sad, the next day happy. No, each day is an incremental journey towards the other side, towards acceptance and integration. Some days you slide a little, but there comes a day when you realize you’re in new territory. Continue reading