Monday, September 5, 2011

Where to Go, Who to Be?

One thing I have learned first hand in this experience is that it is very hard to leave your normal, healthy life and try to return to it a few months later as a completely different person. Let me tell is not as easy as it seems. Everything is pretty much the same........except me.

I have always been a bit of a gypsy. I tend to pick a place far from home, move to it, develop a life, then move when I am "over" it or find a reason to move. I guess I am a bit impulsive in that sense. I felt like I had a reason to be in that particular place for the time being, I learned from it, and then I was ready to move on to the next adventure. Although I had strong roots to my hometown, I was not interested in returning to "home." Since I got diagnosed, all I have craved is to be healthy and normal again. I wanted the things that had previously annoyed me---early morning work shifts with no coffee, a schedule that revolved around everyone else but me, I wanted arguments with my boyfriend over what we were having for dinner, not arguments about major decisions. I wanted--no, I craved--normalcy. I still do.

Now I am wondering what is normal? How can I jump back into my previous life when so much about myself has changed? I don't exactly feel lost, more than that I feel like I am seeking my "purpose" in life. Now that I have this second opportunity to reinvent myself, where do I begin? For starters, where do I live? Do I stay in the safety that is my hometown? Is that being true to myself? Do I go back to Roanoke? Will I be OK being away from my family again? Do I branch out and find a new place with new people? I don't know.

My friend Laura told me the universe will give me my sign. It will show me where I am supposed to be. The thing is, the universe is playing mind games....One minute I think I could never leave my little Shore again. It was where I ran when I needed to heal physically & emotionally. In the next minute, I want to try to go back to the life I had before melanoma. How do I make the decision? .

The question I am asking myself tonight is where do I go, who do I want to be, and how do I work on achieving that? 

I guess I have some soul searching ahead of me.


Tim said...

As near as I can tell, "normalcy" doesn't exist after going through something like this... at least not the OLD normal. Normal now is something entirely different.

How do you really go back to your life and your job and have it be anything like it was before? How do you deal with the petty little day to day things in life that simply need to be done but have no real purpose or meaning? Truly important things become more important than they ever were because of a newly overdeveloped understanding of the time you have in life.

I really think I'm an almost completely different person today. I may look the same and do my best to act the same for my friends, but I frequently find my mind drifting when they're talking about some minor little thing that has become ultra-critical to them for some reason. (I know that sounds harsh. I'm not saying it's NOT important, I'm just saying that I'd love to have that be the most important issue in my life). I still go to work each day, but I have little patience for silly political bickering and busy work. In most ways I'm actually far more effective at work, but I'd guess my change in attitude is a big challenge for my manager (really... you want me to spend the next 6 months of my "free" time taking a class?)

Day to day things in my life that used to drive me crazy don't seem to bother me at all any more... they're just not important enough to make it onto my radar. Other things that I never noticed can become a huge distraction and source of annoyance. Family and free time are urgent and critical; If something goes poorly, it can be devastating (which is clearly an over-reaction).

Of course, the doctors and people who know about these things tell me this is all very normal... It's just a different normal than I'm used to.

One piece of advice I can share with you is to not look at this as a one-time exercise. I went through the same thing; Thinking I had to make some hard decisions about what I wanted my life to look like. That can be a bit paralyzing though. It seems like such a huge process and such important decisions to make that you might find yourself hesitating. It's so easy to see a scan or a test coming up in a month and say "After this, I'll put my plan into action"... There's always something out there that can make it hard to move forward. I've found it better to take smaller bites. Each week, each day, sometimes even each decision I make is an evaluation. Is this really how I want to spend my time? How am I going to handle this week? Keep the long range big plan in mind, but a whole lot of life is short little slices of time that fall in between the bigger things you do.


Becca said...

All I can say sweety is I wish I was as mature and together as you are when I was your age. I hate saying that because I feel like I'm still 16, but I'm not. But to have your insight and experiences and the grace with which you handle them at your age... you have already made a difference in this world just by going through what you have and by writing about it. I'm proud to call you my friend. As for knowing.... the only person who can say when you'll know is you. That probably sounds like a cop out, but it's true. When you know... you'll know. Until then, don't look so hard.
Just smile. :)

Rich McDonald said...

Chelsea, you've faced tougher challenges in the past year than most folks can imagine. You've bent, but you didn't break. Forever after, you'll view whatever challenges life throws at you through the lens of these past months. You're emerging from rough times with the gift of a far keener sense of your own values and priorities. For now, I'd prescribe for you a large daily dose of living in the present. In the meantime, let the deep soul searching about life plans continue on in the subconscious reaches of your mind. The harder we search, the less we discern, and moments of insight may seem to come out of nowhere and at the most unexpected times and in the strangest places. Take care.