A week ago if you asked me how I was feeling about my upcoming surgery, I would have said ” I am ready to be done. I am ready to move forward”. In fact the very first thing I did upon waking up from the anesthesia was to grab my breasts, exclaim at their exquisite softness, and let the tears stream down my face. “What is it dear?” said the nurse and I responded, “it’s all over”. This wave of relief just washed over me. Even in that state, I could feel a lightening, a lifting of this weight that I’ve been carrying with me for the past 6 moths.
That first night home and all through the next day, I couldn’t believe how good I felt. My energy was almost strangely high and the dominant feeling I had was relief. Thank you anesthesia. And then Thursday morning I awoke sore, exhausted, with a killer headache, and I felt this heaviness in my body. Once again, I am adjusting to a new body. Just as I had gotten used to my old breasts and body, now yet again, things look and feel differently. And then it downs on me – the finality of it all. This is it. This is my new body. This is my new home. I had 41 years to live in in my other body…and now I’ve had 4 days to be in this body and man, does it feel strange.
I feel like I’ve been hit over the head with grief. I was not expecting this. And yet it makes perfect sense that grief would come now…at the end of it all. I felt some grief after the mastectomy, but mostly I felt relief that the cancer was gone. I was so overcome with joy at this news, and the focus on my physical recovery that I didn’t honestly feel much grief. I remember preparing for my mastectomy and thinking of what I would miss about my breasts. But it’s hard to grieve something before it is actually gone. And it’s not just my breasts I am grieving. It is my breasts connected to my body. And it is grieving this whole damn thing. My friend Marykay sent me this quote from Brene Brown that so embodies what I am feeling:
Grief seems to create losses within us that reach beyond our awareness – we feel as if we’re missing something that was invisible and unknown to us while we had it but is now painfully gone.
Once again, I am happy that I know enough to know that this is just part of the process. These feelings are temporary and I do not judge myself for having them. Instead, I am allowing the continuous unfolding of this journey and all the learning, growth, and struggle that comes with it.