I didn’t take this picture today. No, not with my droopy eye and extra dark circles. It was taken some months ago on a good day. There are fewer of those lately, but I still stand up straight—when I’m not laying down—and I still put on my red lip—even behind my mask—and smile.
It’s funny that I now have to sleep so much. Well, not funny, really, so much as ironic. I’ve always been a sleeper. Loved it. Naps were my thing. But now that I spend far too much time napping, I’ve grown to resent them. The need for them. The removal of choice.
I miss my superwoman days. I miss the time when people remarked on how they couldn’t believe how I did it all. I used to smile and say I didn’t do it alone. Which was true. My support circle has always been strong. And I’m thankful for that. But deep inside I knew I was also strong. Capable. Reliable.
And I loved it.
I loved myself for it.
A full workday, three children, and writing for several hours a night was my norm. No. Not my norm. It was my fuel. The doing is what made me thrive. Knowing I’d completed an impossible day for both the company I enjoyed, the family I adored, and the writing projects I loved . . . was everything.
Sure, I got tired. I’d take a weekend off. Lost days, I used to call them. Where I’d slip into a non-productive, self-protective mode and wear my pajamas and binge books or stream stations and let laundry be my only link back to reality. Warm, fresh, safe from expectation because my new dryer sang songs to me instead of buzzing like my phone.
I knew about my pinealcytoma then. I’d actually half-convinced myself it might be the source of my superpowers. These tumors or cysts are supposed to be harmless, after all. Like a birthmark on the brain. I’d long made peace with it and even joked about it with my husband when I made a clumsy mistake. I’d smile. Don’t make fun of the girl with a brain tumor. It’s not so funny anymore.
But I was always his superwoman.
I just don’t know why.
My Lost Days have turned into Lost Weeks. Lost Months. I try so hard to be present, but I blink sometimes and it’s a new season. And the memory of what has transpired is like a fog of scenes dancing through my mind. My job that I love, I share with others, because I can no longer do it alone. My family that I cherish, that deserve my all, get less because my all is so much less than it used to be. And my words, they evade me more than find me, not just in writing, but in speech. Some days, I talk in circles just to get a point across. If I even get there at all.
My specialists assure me it’s not the tumor. And I want to believe them. Need to believe them. Because who wants to believe the thing you’d made peace with long ago is now causing vision problems, chronic pain, and so much more? Who wants to believe there was a ticking time bomb in your brain and you didn’t even realize when the countdown started?
No. I’m assured that it can’t be the cause. Even though the bouts of vertigo I experience sometimes have me walking into doorways without even realizing it. Even though the brain I’ve always trusted to multitask life and so many lives around me often fails to run at full speed on one task at a time. Even though on days when I can feel it start to whir again and pick up pace, my body is screaming at me to be still or it will punish me further.
And I’m glad. I’m glad it’s not the tumor. But I wait and I wonder and I watch as life passes me by. Deadlines. Dreams and goals. Experiences. Gone without grace, without the option of a repeat or do-over. And I see specialists, and trust specialists, and hope and pray they will find my why.
And I make peace. I make peace with new troubles from old childhood haunts. It’s the things we push aside that find their way into consciousness at the most inopportune times. Those times when you have to slow down and have nowhere to hide. Traumas are sneaky and triggers even more so.
So, while I lay, and I wait, and I pray to heal, I wonder. Was I running so hard for so long because I enjoyed it? Because my family and life demanded it? Or was I running from something? Some things?
The truth? Probably a little of both. So, along with my physical health, I reached for mental health. I faced and released, as much as one can, the things that were buried deep, that clung to me like a black shadow. The heavy burdens that were never mine to carry, especially as a child. And I gave them back. I gave them back to the adults that should’ve carried them all along. And I found that the letting go is both freeing and frightful. But ultimately necessary, and a great relief.
And now? Now, I’m focused on accepting my new pace of life. Because I can no longer pretend this phase will pass. That my Lost Days aren’t turning into Lost Years. I must accept and adjust to the productivity level that I can now offer the world. And more so, I have to believe that I still have value in it. That the people that surround me every day, the ones who really knew me then, the ones who really know me now, are still thankful for me. That they still feel I can make a difference. With my heart, and my spirit, and the part of me I’m still able to give.
So, when I’m not laying down, I stand up straight. I put on my red lipstick. And I smile. Because I can. Because I know there are so many who can’t. Because I’m still thankful for the love and life that surround me. And because I know that my worth is not defined by what I can produce, but rather, who I am. And even if that person is constantly evolving, she will always evolve for the better. And that doesn’t require red lipstick, or for me to hide my droopy eye and extra dark circles. All it requires is for me to show up. And when I’m able, to stand up.
I’m still writing, friends. Just more slowly, and from an often lateral position. Please be patient, because my goal is to always make it worth the wait, to deliver only my best, and to always share my heart.