Ah, Summer. The warm air. Crickets chirping. Beach trips. Family vacations. Cookouts. A sense of inexplicable depression and dread.
This time two years ago I was discovering myself and learning to accept myself. I was getting into working out more, had met a really great guy, my son had just finished Kindergarten, pandemics were just in the movies and history books, and I didn’t have cancer (well, I didn’t know I had it, anyway). My Summer had started off phenomenally well. It was the last time I ever felt that Summertime happiness.
PTSD is a sneaky thing.
I think last year maybe it didn’t hit me quite as hard because literally the whole world was experiencing a collective, ongoing trauma. This year almost everyone is getting back to normal and I’m like wait. . . I wanna go back, too. I wanna go back to Summer 2019 when I was Old Stef who was blossoming and doing awesome and having fun and still able to drink wine and get a tan and eat whatever she wanted. I wanna be ignorant to this awful disease and go back to when I hadn’t lost multiple friends to it. But I can’t.
The hardest part of all of this, of any struggle, is knowing we only have two options: quit or keep going. Turning around isn’t an option. Going backward isn’t an option. Undoing the past isn’t an option. And that seems so simple to understand but man is it hard to accept.
I’m learning to live with the pain, the food restrictions/complications, the swelling, and the body changes. I’ve even learned to live with fear of recurrence. This is just one more thing now and it’s honestly the hardest to combat (along with Survivors Guilt but I’m sure they’re related).
I know I’m the only one who can cultivate the peaceful mindset I’m seeking. I know only I can heal what’s hurting inside of me. But I’m so tired of constantly healing. I’m incredibly weary and I just want to rest.
I guess I’m writing this all out because it helps to make it real. It also helps knowing maybe my raw expression of everything will help someone else feel less alone. And I guess that’s where I get most of my strength to get back up and keep going.
So let’s go.