It has been over three months since I have really written a post for this site. Some loyal follows may have also known that Twattlings has been down for most of that time. What gives? Where did I go? Last you knew, I had quit my job after a week in a hospital and was living in a house I was close to being evicted from. I also had the gumption to write a post about “trust” and just knowing that everything would work out. Did it?
A lot has happened. I withdrew from everything trying to find some direction. I knew if I went back to my life before cancer, I would surely die. If not physically, I would have died spiritually which is just as bad. I needed to listen to myself. I needed to reduce the noise and start figuring out what I really wanted.
I knew that I couldn’t be “fake” anymore. I was tired of trying to be who I thought I should be instead of who I really am. I no longer had the energy to maintain a façade. I am kooky. I am inappropriate. I need to be able to swear when I want to swear. I want to embrace my sexuality. I want to leave the 9-5, paycheck-to-paycheck existence. I want to say what is on my mind and not worry about who I am going to offend. I want to encourage others to be themselves and distance themselves from what anyone else thinks. I want to not feel like a rat in a cage, waiting for some weird finish line where I subsist on social security and pretend that I am free.
Honestly, I unplugged and tried to just figure it out. I looked at the job postings, but I had come too far to just jump into another office – even outside of the confines of secondary education. I barely lived off of the income of teaching one college class. The students inspired me. The extra time allowed me to put together one of the most effective courses I have ever taught – in writing. Still, I couldn’t exist this way for long.
This put some stress on my relationship with Alex and Max as well. We were all trying to figure out a new normal. We couldn’t maintain the status quo. We all wanted more. We could taste on occasion how delicious life was when we were inspired to create. We knew we needed to just follow our passions. This came to a head the night before Thanksgiving. We were tired. We were cranky, and we had an enormous fight.
The basis of the fight, in a nutshell, was we were all ready for a change, but we didn’t know how to implement it. In the midst of this upheaval, Max’s father finally passed away after a year or more of dangling between life and death. Life is short. What are you going to do with it?
Big changes had to occur. Suddenly, my plumbing backed up in my house. I suspected tree roots, but I didn’t have a couple hundred dollars to spend on it. I had survived for nearly four months on a slim savings which was about to expire, and I knew I would be evicted by February. I was paralyzed. I seriously considered living out of my car.
The boys were equally worried about me. Although they had a spare room, we realized that it would be better if I didn’t live with them. With that said, they also were not about to watch me live in a house with no plumbing or out of my car. I was like a deer frozen in headlights, unable to move.
In a somewhat heroic fashion, Alex called my father. He explained the situation and said it was dire that I move in with him. He told him that I needed my Dad.
It was one of the scariest moments of my life. The anxiety was almost worse that having cancer. It was the kind of vulnerability that I found excruciating and did everything in my world to avoid.
Suddenly, life as I had known it was changing. My father paid to move me back into his house. Somehow, I managed to do it before the first snow flied this winter. I physically worked harder than I had in years to get packed and unpacked. I could no longer slip into bed and try to sleep away my depression or ignore life.
I was a part of a family unit again. I went from being single with no witnesses to my home life, to sharing it with three other adults, three canines, and two cats. The adjustment was intense. I found the sudden energy overwhelming and left often to go to the library or a coffee shop for some respite.
Just as I was beginning to adjust to this new normal, my schedule was changing too. I had taken on three college classes at two community colleges. Two of the classes I had never taught before, in subjects that I only had the most basic of knowledge in. I also began working out at the YMCA as a part of a Livestrong program. This is a 12 program for cancer survivors to regain strength after treatment. I was put in a group of about 10 other people, and we began working out twice a week with a group of trainers for free.
Meanwhile, the boys and I had to be even more vulnerable with each other. I had to share everything with them. I had to learn what I wasn’t sharing because my mind couldn’t comprehend that another soul on the Earth cared how much about what I thought. We shared thought processes and fears, dreams and our damaged inner tapes. We also learned that we needed to spend quality time with one another, not just quantity.
This was crucial because our lives were radically changing. In moving back in with my father, I was now living 20 minutes away with people who worried about when I got home and if I would be cooking dinner or if they needed to fend for themselves.
I seemed to be on the right path, and started off the New Year with a lot of hope.
A week into our new schedule, and I began to melt down. I was putting more than 8 hours in to prep one class. My father’s internet was dial-up speed. I had to travel to another location to get what I needed. It seemed all I did was school work, or teaching school. I also HATED that I only saw the boys twice a week.
I figured out how to prep my classes in less time and create little pockets of oasis in my schedule. Max had a chance to work on his puppets and develop a schedule that allowed him to save money by preparing food at home. Alex rediscovered how great a life coach he really was and how he did know how to manage relationships with others in a powerful way.
Our time together was more precious. We took little trips on Friday. We still had dance parties. We also learned more about each other. We took personality tests and realized that I am the introverted version of them. I think they were able to see me more clearly and were able to understand why I did things or thought certain ways that had puzzled them before. I was learning to try an embrace myself more fully. Some of my quarks were a source of great embarrassment for me, and seeing the boys appreciate them more allowed me to at least entertain that they might be strengths instead of weaknesses.
So, I am alive and thriving. I feel like I am still in transition. I barely recognize the person I was before having cancer. On paper, I might have seemed in a better place, but internally I was walking dead. In this second chance at life, I am trying to focus more on being me and doing what I love with the people I love. I believe Twattlings is still a part of this.
When I took down Twattlings, I was at a point where I thought I had to withdraw from everything and hide my light under a basket. I didn’t want to be seen because I didn’t know if I could handle seeing me. I had started Twattlings as a way to document my cancer journey and maybe inspire others to know that they could survive it. After treatment, for some reason I thought my words were no longer valid. I didn’t want to talk about cancer, but I wasn’t really ready to talk about myself.
My focus for the future is to continue the pondering. If something you read on Twattlings helps inspire you to love or be yourself more, than I have accomplished a lot. So, let’s continue on our journey together. There is nothing but love here for us all.