To Everything There is a Season–PART 1

SEEING RED

Written on 5/8/11

(flashback)

Summer ’09 was the worst summer of my life—to date. The diagnosis of Ductal Carcinoma In Situ and subsequent mastectomy had left me angry at the world and seriously depressed. So much, in fact, that it was all I could do to get through my days with all the children in care and then shut the world out when the last child left each evening. I tried to make the most of moments when they would come my way, but I can say, matter-of-factly, that I was not someone you’d want to socialize with that year. Bitter resentment along with despair were the facial expressions of choice. I didn’t want to hear words of encouragement. I didn’t want to pray. I didn’t want to find the humor in things (although I tried hard to each day and it just came out biting, sarcastic, and crass sounding). I didn’t want to do anything but cry, or scream, or punch something or someone. I had to hold it all in, though. I had to maintain so I could just get through each day and holding it in just made me an even hotter mess. If you were to ask me now if I ever exhaled that summer, I would honestly tell you no.

I know NOW that was the most unhealthy way I could have lived. Hell, I knew it then, too, but chose to ignore the signs–Defeat-est mentality at its finest and those of you who know the Type A that I am probably can’t ever imagine me getting that low. But that Type A began working overtime on my self-destruction. For example,

Why should I worry about my grades anymore– is God really gonna care that I was on the President’s List or made it into the National Honor Society?

Why should I bother turning in any paperwork for any agencies I’m accountable to for my business, like they really give a damn what I’m fighting here anyway.

Why should I bother fighting for my oldest daughter, after all, so many others had given up on her.

Why should I care what I look like, I’m just gonna lose my hair anyway… I’m just gonna look ridiculous wearing makeup…I’m just gonna have to find shirts covered with such loud prints that it will distract anyone from noticing I don’t have a chest anymore…

Why should I bother with anything…I’m just gonna be 6 feet under by the end of the year.

Why should I bother with reconstruction—I’ll finally get the boob job I always wanted just to have the best looking chest standing at attention from my coffin as everyone passes it by during the visitation.

I was feeding the beast inside me by continuing such inner destructive self-talk. I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t get out of the quick sand that kept pulling me back into that pit of despair. Each time a friend would throw me a lifeline, I’d only hang on half-heartedly. I was giving up–giving in. It was all too much. I didn’t know how to process all of the stimuli attacking me. It was just easier to retreat into a comfortable cocoon of anger. I was prescribed medication after medication from anti-depressants, to anti-anxiety, to sleeping pills so I could just shut off my brain at night–all of them addictive. At least I had enough sense about me to avoid filling any of those Rx’s. My doctor wasn’t happy about that. I argued that–I drive children to schools and I won’t drive under the influence of something. I won’t take something that would make me feel loopy or jittery. I won’t take something I would only later have to fight to get off of. I knew that it was up to me to pull myself out. I just didn’t have a clue how I would go about doing that.

I know there are some women that handle such extreme stress with grace. I wish I could say I was one of them. There were times—fleeting nanoseconds that would allow me the courage to hold my head up high as I walked into a room, but they vanished as quickly as they appeared. I’ll give you a glimpse back at who I was that summer. It’s written all over my face and my body language screams, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU LOOKING AT—HAVEN’T YOU EVER SEEN SOMEONE WITH ONE boob!.” Yes, for me to bring about a change…it would probably take more courage then for me to walk into a hospital and have my chest cut off–and since that had already happened, the fight was only just beginning. Not a physical one, though—a purely mental knock-down, drag out fight that Mr. Miagi wouldn’t be able to help me get out of.

As you can see, I had truly succumbed to the anger. It overrode most of my emotions. It had itself manifested into a type of cancer that was once again invading every area of my life. The problem was that I breathed life into this type and it was by far Stage 10. By summer, it had become a comfortable friend. Letting go of the anger would have been just too easy. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know if I was ever going to be ready. I held tight to it and slammed the door on anyone trying to get in including my family. There were times when I I would look out that door’s peephole to view the world that was still going on without me. That made me angrier, still!

Then there was the crippling events surrounding my oldest daughter who had gone missing. We were dealing with the loss of a child we weren’t sure was even alive or dead at this point, and I was going through the painstaking process of supplying dental records to the police in case remains were found. The stress of just the cancer would have been enough to anyone but combine it with the stress of losing a child and the infuriating lack of help I received in trying to find her along with the judgmental advice I was getting at all turns was enough to push me into a spiraling depression. “No…I’ll hold onto this anger just a while longer,” I thought.

As if things weren’t bad enough… I was told once again our family would be losing insurance. My husband’s job of 17 yrs. was coming to an explosive brink. The business was trying to function with a severely alcoholic boss. My husband was the only one keeping it afloat. The boss was his childhood and lifelong friend, best man in our wedding, and Godfather to our oldest daughter. If you have ever dealt with alcoholism, you may be able to appreciate the horrific strain it can put on relationships. So, as I dealt with my cancer, Jeff dealt with his friend/boss/job and the fact he knew he was losing all three to a self-destructive personality who had also begun an affair with my former best friend of 17 years and maid of honor in our wedding. It was all too much.

Then, the insurance—this bastard—this corporate structure we had paid money into our whole lives decides to begin cutting our benefits and raising our premiums. It began a vicious cycle where the teasing thought of a couple more months worth of benefits dangled in front of me like carrots–causing complete panic on my part–how will I get the rest of my surgeries?  How will I pay for medicine?  What if this metastasizes and I can’t pay for treatment?  What do I do?  I braced for the worst–complete denial altogether once Jeff had been fired from his job. Denial in mid-treatment. What kind of insurance company does this? Mind you, this was before Obama’s healthcare reform where pre-existing conditions would be grandfathered in (or so I thought at the time).  I realized I better get a game plan…and fast.

With all that, my mental state really started nose diving. I was becoming scatterbrained–unable to focus–very attention deficit disorder–without a doubt. The strain on our marriage, our family, our lives had become nothing short of catastrophic. No amount of counseling could help. There was no way to sort it all out. Prayers were offered up just to get drowned out by the yelling—whether my own or a chorus of frustrated cries by everyone under the same roof. I stopped writing because I could no longer process any stimuli coming in or going out.

In the midst of it all, I began having a recurring dream. It continued every night for 6 months straight. I began to realize it was a sign…and once that sign revealed itself and what it meant to my life…it was the catalyst for all things that followed…

SEASONS PART 2 will be posted on Monday morning 5/23/11. Don’t miss what the dream reveals! You can do that by subscribing to this blog through RSS feeds, the subscribe by email feature, or the Networked Blogs link in the side bar (the easiest way)!  Cya soon!

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kurt Selboe
    May 18, 2011 @ 22:44:15

    Chris (I know it’s Christina but screw you, I knew you as Chris in the day so …:),
    That is some powerful stuff in your blog. I’ve know the shit that is cancer in my family as a child of a victim and I can imagine and appreciate the strength you needed to get through it all not only with your self-interest but also with teens in the mix. Your posts show you to be a warrior, disturbing and depressing as they may be from time to time, and I am fully fucking impressed by your attitude. Your writing will no doubt help many other women (and men) though their own hell. Kudos Christina! Fight on and on and on.

    Reply

    • Christina Heald
      May 18, 2011 @ 22:53:07

      I’m sorry it’s depressing at times. Cancer fucks with your whole life. Every aspect. It isn’t pretty. I hate always reading the fluffy stuff. Sometimes, a person needs to know they aren’t alone in all the anguish of it all, ya know. It’s how you fight your way out of it that is the true fight of cancer. Anyone can have a body part cut off. How you pick yourself back up and carry on is the true test of character, don’t you agree?

      Part 1 is the bitching part. Part 2 deals with the dream I had and the epiphany I had as a result. You know it gets better–afterall, I’m still here! 🙂

      Reply

  2. Karen
    May 19, 2011 @ 09:32:42

    Chris ~ the person in the pic above is so not my girl. Not the one from high school and after, and not the one I know now. Not many people could go through all that you did and come out without at least some of the bitterness tagging along behind them, but you have. Proof of what a strong soul you are.
    This blog kept me close to you when you didn’t want anyone close to you. I’m so proud of how far you’ve come, what you’ve accomplished, what you continue to fight for and against, and what a total and complete inspiration you continue to be with those that are suffering through this horrible disease. While I agree that you’re a warrior, you’re more than that. You’re a Gladiator. Not just a fighter, but a hero.

    Reply

    • Christina Heald
      May 19, 2011 @ 11:08:59

      The transformation has been truly remarkable. Even I look back on scores of pictures and don’t recognize myself from that person above. I remember that person. I didn’t like her. You played an instrumental role in bringing me back from the world of the walking dead. You held my hand and forced me to go out. You believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself anymore. You reminded me that I am beautiful inside and out. You were there to listen to me bitch and to hold me when I cried. Even though I didn’t utilize you enough that year, the fact that facebook and this blog brought us closer together once again in our lives is testament to the power of friendship and that no matter where two people are on the wheel of life, at some point paths will cross. How grateful yours crossed mine after all these years once again. How appreciative I am for all you’ve given to me the past two years. You are such a giving soul Karen and many people know this. With all you do for everyone else, I will always have endless gratitude for you taking the time to stop and pick up a weary old friend to help nurse back to health. If it weren’t for your sarcasm, your humor, your friendship, your love–I do wonder if I’d still look like that bedraggled poor soul above. I pray you or I never see her again. Thank you–Karen–you are one of my unsung heros. Thank you for being there. With love–CJ

      Reply

  3. Karen
    May 19, 2011 @ 12:29:31

    On a day when I was in such a crappy mood, I’m moved to tears. You seem to have that effect on me … tears or but gusting laughter. And for that, I can never thank you enough.
    I am so very very grateful that we are both still here and in each others’ lives. But it is to YOU that the gratitude is owed… you are my reminder of how precious life is, how things can change in the blink of an eye, how important friendship is in every aspect of our lives and most importantly that the STRONG really can, and do, survive – and come out of tragedy as a better person. I adore you – as I always have and always will. Love you gorgeous!

    Reply

  4. Christina Heald
    May 19, 2011 @ 12:36:32

    I am Loved–I think I need to go get that pin out and wear it today. Remember those from the jewelry store? I am pie eyed and remembering that as the crazy world continues to spin all around me–this moment–right now–I am thinking of you and realizing that sometimes you never know where your support system might come from. Blessed to have you as part of mine dear friend. Ok–enough with the mushy stuff–have I fluffed you up enough? I secretly just want to borrow some hooker heels from you….lol!

    Reply

  5. Karen
    May 19, 2011 @ 12:42:41

    I am SO fluffed. And of course I remember those pins … and we wore ’em like crazy on our cool jean jackets. Mushy mushy blah blah blah – ENOUGH! lol Let’s go buy hooker heels! I actually “need” more hooker sandals!

    Reply

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