Monday, March 1, 2010

Reaching Out -- For the First Time

I've spent the first two months of 2010 growling at myself for picking the high-deductible medical plan, given how much time I've spent with the medical community thus far. I like rice and oatmeal as much as the next girl, but there's been precious little variety beyond that since November.

Two weeks ago my esophagus and I had a photo shoot (think internal vogue-ing on enough valium to make a horse levitate). I expected to awake to answers, not "We'll have biopsy results in ten days." The concept of biopsy threw me; it somehow wasn't a word I was expecting. But it was less the potential of what it might mean than the nebulousness of not knowing the next step.

Boy howdy the Serenity Prayer does come in handy when you're scratching for control you're just not going to get. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I knew I couldn't change the test result, but I could change how I approached it. For me, it wasn't a simple change. It was akin to bungee jumping for the first time.

I have a reputation for being "strong" through adversity. At one point after my sons were born very early, I would quietly and to myself get ticked off anytime someone told me how strong I was. Were they clueless?! I had zero interest in being strong. I crumpled when no one was looking. I cried in my car. Why did everyone think I was so strong? Why couldn't they give me a break and let me be less than strong?

I finally figured it out over tea with a friend last Friday. (Yeah, I'm 41 years old. Sometimes I'm just amazingly s-l-o-w to catch on.) People think I'm strong because I've been oh-so-careful to never show weakness. I was raised in an environment where if you had to cry, you did it alone and behind closed doors. You didn't ask for help. You never admitted you couldn't do it yourself. I got very good at masking and compartmentalizing my emotions. I've been called "cold" when in reality, I'm pretty damned emotional (on the inside...).

I always showed strong. I never asked for help. I never admitted anything other than strong.

Last week, I took a new step. I ditched the mask. It felt weird, but I used my Facebook status to ask for positive thoughts because I was getting biopsy results that day. And I was scared. I second-guessed myself about 42 times, but I left the post there. I was hoping a few people would read it and maybe toss a good thought my way before moving on to the next post. I got far more than I bargained for.

Between the original post and the follow-up that the biopsy was indeed clear (yay), I had nearly 50 messages of support. I was overwhelmed, amazed, comforted, and truly humbled. I still am. The test result itself is now a minor footnote to the day.

By reaching out and asking for help, letting down the mask of strong, and allowing my friends into the scarier part of my world, I got an amazing sense of the people in my life. And of peace. And it carried me through my day. It buoys me nearly a week later and will continue to do so for a long time.

Now I get it...

1 comment:

Laurie said...

thanks for sharing this ... it hits home for me, though i'm lucky to not have been much through the ringer yet. glad you're putting your toes in the water and finding it inviting :-)