I frequently say that cancer changed me. But maybe it just coincided with a time I was growing anyways and I would be who I am today without it. Maybe it was the push I needed to become who I want to be. Maybe it was the excuse I was waiting for. Maybe.
What's for sure is a change. I think some people find parts of me now unrecognizable. I think some parts are the same.
I received a letter recently that made me reflect on this from the person who knows me better than anyone else in the world. He said the glimpses of who I was complement the new bits of me. I am thankful that there are unfamiliar pieces to me. It means I've changed. It means I've grown.
I lived to please. My happiness came from others happiness, often involving sacrifice on my part. I was always obedient, even to those who had no authority to control me. I listened and did was I was asked, always feeling incongruence to a voice inside of me wanting a different way. I never spoke out or spoke up.
I remember the first time I did though. It happened after I had created somewhat of a safe bubble to survive cancer in was threatened. I had a choice to float off in another's direction or stick to my plan. I stuck. I stuck once and have been sticking since. I mindfully rebel- because I learned the difference between selfishness and self-preservation.
I don't need the praise and approval of others for worth. My spirit comes from learning myself and loving myself. Being honest with my flaws and working my weaknesses, while appreciating who they created when combined with the good parts.
I am not a girlfriend or a daughter. I'm not a sister or a patient. These are roles I'm in but offer little praise to the generous, slow listening, squirmy, growing, smiling, curious, one of a kind of woman I am. I'm tangled in no one but me- making me responsible for my needs, wants, choices, thoughts, and emotions. It also relives me of the responsibility of all those things for anyone else. My heart is plenty for me to control.
My character is without threat when I am in control of myself. I don't carry negative burdens from others because I choose not to. My relationships are loving because I invite love and not abusive because abuse is uninvited. Love comes from a place for respect and freedom, with the same pure intentions I love out.
Along with control of my heart and mind comes control of my body. My body is incredible and carried me through hell and I choose to honor it and cherish it, actions I didn't do before. I choose not to partake in situations that make it feel small, foolish, or anything less than the miracle it is like I have in the past. It is a new body for me to grow into before anyone else has the chance, with great tenderness and love.
I am strong and brave and continuously growing. I choose to forgive others and finally myself as well. My spirit is without compromise and my body has many, many years left to offer.