In 1956, my parents bought the 2 1/2 acres on which their house was built for $2,000.  My dad was laid off so they had time to look at property. But they were taking a chance because $2000 was all of the money they had. They were investing in their future. In 1965, they built a house on it for $20,000.  My mom told the builders that they couldn’t cut down any more trees then were necessary to build the foundation for the house. Despite the fact that she had four children and was pregnant with me, she visited the construction site and pointed to the different stands of trees, little islands of forest still standing in the front of their house. “You can’t cut that down, it’s a Douglas fir! You can’t cut this down! It’s a Western Hemlock”.

I grew up in this house in what was unincorporated King County, about 12 miles from Seattle. Even when I was in high school my friends’ parents would say, “You live out in the Boonies.” We had three close neighbors who had horses. One even had a training arena. Another family had a horse who was the national and Canadian champion (English riding style) for a couple of years running. There were also cows, goats, woodlands, and wetlands.

As Seattle has grown, more and more people have moved to the suburbs. Seattle has become a very expensive city in which to live. I actually live in the city proper. My neighborhood is not fancy. I live in a two story ranch style house from the 50’s. Nonetheless, I spotted two houses this summer valued at a million dollars each. I’m sure there are more.

The house and the surrounding woods are my parents’ home. It was my home for many years. It is also a quite valuable piece of real estate. When my dad was retiring, he and my mom visited an attorney to discuss their estate. I remember my dad coming home from that meeting, pretty happy. He and my mom had also made conservative but consistent investments in bonds and CD’s over the years. My dad was happy because he felt that he and my mom were secure financially for retirement.

My mom turns 80 on Saturday. My dad turns 82 exactly one month from Saturday. They live in the same house. For the last several months, there has been a huge “Notice of Development” sign right next to their driveway. The neighbors asked, “Did you sell your property?” They did not. However, my dad, who makes sure he attends the development meetings and looks at specifics noted that the map of the proposed development included a road that went RIGHT THROUGH THEIR PROPERTY.

Although the design was later modified, the developers still have a problem. Without a road through my parents’ property, the development would be located on a dead end street. My dad attended another meeting this week. The fire department was not happy with the idea of a housing development being located on a dead end street. That’s not very safe. What if they have to get somewhere and the street is blocked? The developers argued, pointing to my parents’ property on the map, “That property is going to be sold really soon.” And they even kept talking about my dad by name, not knowing who he was or that he was at the meeting.

I went shopping with my dad a few weeks ago to pick out an anniversary present for my mom. My parents are practical, no-nonsense people. My dad was getting ready to spend money so it was only natural that money was on his mind. He was also thinking back to the 60 years he’s been married to my mom and the family they created. He said to me, “I got a lot of money. Dead.”

I knew what he meant but I don’t really like to talk about my parents dying with my parents. So I said, “Yes, you have a lot of non-liquid assets. Your house and property are worth a lot of money.”

According to my mom’s blog, which she posted today, the developers were thinking that my parents were worth a lot dead, too. And he’d decided that they were elderly and that would either sell and move or just die. And they also assumed that in the event of their death, all six of us kids would sell to them.

These assumptions could bear out to be true; nobody knows the future. I hate that my parents are being treated like they are a foregone conclusion and that my parents’ end with be the solution to their dead end. I hate that the beautiful woods that has been there for a long long time is being planned for dissection and demolition. I would say that it feels like vultures circling but vultures can’t really help themselves. People can.

I don’t worry as much as I might about my parents. At the end of the meeting, my dad approached the lawyer for the city of Renton, who had actually argued with the developer saying, “For all we know, Joe MacKenzie is 26 years-old!”

Dad said, “”I’m  82 and may not live that much longer but I’m married to a long living Italian, whose Aunt lived to be 106!”

The woods behind my parents' place.

The woods behind my parents’ place.

My parent's antique physician's buggy. My dad built the building for it as well as a number of other buildings on the property.

My parent’s antique physician’s buggy. My dad built the building for it as well as a number of other buildings on the property.

Some problems are to be solved. Others cannot be solved and are to be accepted.

Today, my mood matches the weather outside, gray. It may rain today and it may not. It could go either way.

I feel discouraged today and fairly sad. Not horribly so, not a torrential downpour so but still cloudy.

Many of my expectations about the business side of marriage, dividing responsibility, having routines, making decisions and then implementing them, are reasonable ones. Ordinarily, they are not too much to ask.

But I’ve been a marriage for nearly 25 years during which these expectations have never been met despite the fact that my husband and I adore one another and are smart, resourceful people. And I have no reason to believe that our lives will become less complicated any time soon or perhaps ever. Similarly, I have no reason to believe that either of us is going to change in any major way that will make this teamwork, which I have so desperately wanted all of these years, happen.

I am not without spontaneity in my life. I like new experiences. I like having fun. But it is not fun to be spontaneous about the stupid, boring parts of daily life. The stuff that just needs to get done so that there is time for fun and life is not just spent figuring out the same mundane tasks every day. Habits, routines, and rules are helpful because when they make sense, our brains don’t have to work so hard and we also have more free time.

I find that a substantial amount of my thinking time is spent on making these rules and habits happen. Twenty-five years of this thinking and it’s not happening.

I believe that I am one of the most reasonable people that I know. I am proud of how hard I have worked to live a life that is coherent and makes sense. That may seem silly but for me, it has opened a path to great joy, creativity, and happiness.

Ordinarily, my expectations of a marital partnership would be reasonable. But my marriage is not ordinary. In most ways, it is extraordinary, with incredible depth, humor, shared values, and passions. No one and no partnership can be strong in every area. We are not strong in the mundane aspects of daily living. I mean sometimes we do a better job than others but it nearly always requires a great deal of effort, regardless of the outcome. In contrast, we don’t have to work at laughing together, appreciating nature, or expressing interest in the world around us. That stuff is easy. Dishes are hard. Finding the broom because it was moved and not put back in its place is hard. Finding clean towels is difficult. Giving up on the idea that these things will someday change is difficult.

If you asked me whether I would rather have the marriage I have than one that ran like a well oiled machine but was lacking in passion, companionship, and laughter, I would so obviously choose the marriage that I have. Every day, I choose the marriage that I have. I have a wonderful husband.

Today, I realized that in my quest to feel better about myself as a wife, I have to give up these expectations. It is understandable that I want them. But it is unreasonable and irrational to continue expecting things to change.  I don’t yet know how to do this. This is not the first time I have had this thought. But it is the first time that the thought has been different than just giving up.

As I have been writing this, it has changed in my mind from a loss to a sliver of opportunity, an opening to a different path.

When I was in graduate school, I watched a video in class about a woman who due to brain damage had permanent anterograde amnesia. This is the loss of the ability to create new memories. Every time her husband entered her hospital room she greeted him like Penelope greeting Odysseus. “It’s been so long! I’m so happy to see you!!!!” There were hugs and kisses and more hugs and kisses. And if he as so much as left the room to use the restroom, the whole thing started over again.

This woman knew enough about the past to know that this man was her husband. It was pretty close to “living totally in the present” without her greeting him as a stranger every time she saw him.

Taking the husband’s perspective, the interchanges looked painful and exhausting. His wife clearly adored him but how could they move forward? Clearly, they could not. In time she would be distracted by the vision of herself in the mirror. With time, she would not recognize herself due to aging. And the same would be true for her husband. Time would pass and she would be confused by his appearance and then likely, view him as a stranger.

Making memories together is important in a marriage. It is a shared history that is constructed together. For day to day life, the logistics of life, it is crucial to have routines and shared understanding of not only the division of labor, but of what tasks are needed in order to run the family, the marriage, and individuals lives.

I have a very good memory for routines, agreements, and history. It is a strength that I have and that the rest of my family does not. With my daughter, her flightiness, her memory problems, her statements of “I did not know I was not supposed to do ______” despite countless conversations and experiences to the contrary, is frustrating but after all she is a child and furthermore, MY child.

My husband also forgets the mundane aspects of life. The agreements, the logistics, etc. I know he does not do this on purpose. He is a loving and a hardworking person. But sometimes, every day seems like starting over from scratch. We have a shared history, a deep and loving history together as a couple. We know each other and like each other. We’ve had wonderful vacations, traditions, and family traditions. We have a MEANINGFUL and RICH life together. But when it comes to daily life, the mundane stuff we all have to do, or even the less mundane agreements we have about parenting or communication, it can be like starting over. Like a whole new day when I want the old day, yesterday, when we made a plan together. Today, I did the dishes, for example. I also made dinner. I did not know who was supposed to do them but didn’t want to fight about it. So, I just did them because I didn’t want to start from square one, as a couple.

It can be exhausting. It can be guilt-inducing because I know that my husband loves me and his family. I can feel resentment because I work hard to communicate and at times, it just doesn’t seem to matter what I say or do or what we communicate to each other. I am also trying hard to move forward to live in the present. But living in the present when the recent past does not always exist is much harder than it sounds. When I provide the same rationale over and over for the same decision that I thought was already made, I get perceived as a “nag”. I totally understand why I come across that way. But I am also in an understandably frustrating situation. And he is, as well.

We are intensely working on our  marriage; we are trapped in the present. Eventually, the present will be an illuminating and freeing place.

Right now it is hard.

As a young girl, I remember my teacher telling us about solar eclipses. I was eager to learn more. We were going to have one. I had never seen one before or previously known what it was. This is also one of many times as a child, I was cautioned of the dangers of looking directly at the sun. We made pin-hole camera type contraptions that would allow us to view the event indirectly.

I have been applying my mindfulness practices to examining my deep irrational fears of being a bad wife. This is a fear at my very center and it hurts my heart. Looking at it has been like looking into the sun, scary with the potential for great power and insight. Looking into the sun causes damage. Looking into the center of oneself can also unearth damage but instead of being permanent, it can also open the way to healing, resilience, and strength.

Right now I am at the unearthing damage part. It’s pretty hard. It’s a bit disorienting. I need more time than ever for quiet contemplation. I did not think of this when I went on vacation recently, what it would be like to be with my family 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I found myself very anxious, feeling simultaneously vulnerable and aware of my own destructive powers to lash out and hurt others. Don’t get me wrong, parts of vacation were wonderful. But I had some difficult times. I found that I did better when I took breaks from my family to write my blog on the public library computers. I think my family appreciated the space from my anxious emissions of unpredictable solar flares.

I felt considerably less anxious after I returned home but as is typically true, John and I are working to re-connect with each other. We are both empathetic and sensitive people. Just as our moments of happiness are highly contagious, so is our anxiety, anger, and sadness. Our daughter is the same way. Fortunately, we all love and like each other and will rally to get things back on track.

I have been disappointed in myself. But today I remind myself that it is difficult to look into the sun, even if only looking at the edges as are visible during an eclipse. I have found that in the past, as I’ve examined my thoughts and feelings about other issues, time and time again, through mindfulness, I get an objective distance while still feeling connected to myself.

Many years ago, John and I camped in Shenandoah National Park. We happened to be there during major meteor showers. I had never and have never before seen anything like it.  We laid down side by side both looking up at the sky, full of stars, moving stars, cascading stars, tumbling stars, one after another. Many of those stars were as powerful as our sun. Many were likely more powerful than our sun. But the distance allowed us to look right at them, fully engaged with the wonder, the power, and the beauty of the sky.

That is the image on which I will meditate. Perhaps some day, looking at myself will be like gazing at the heavens, looking up with wonder, the appreciation that not all can be understood in this life, and that this is the way it should be.

 

DSC00421

While I was on vacation, I was mostly “off the grid” meaning that I had neither phone nor Internet reception. I did discover, however, that I missed my writing time immeasurably. So I ended up going into town a couple of times during the week to blog from the public library computers. I was allowed an hour’s access each day, which was enough to write a post, without proofreading, and to check my email.

A few days ago, I noted an email from one of the professors at my Ph.D. program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It was an invitation to a party, which was primarily a retirement party for my doctoral adviser, Joe Lowman, but also a reunion of sorts for former graduate students. The date for the event is October 25th. I live a considerable distance from North Carolina. It’s on the other side of the U.S. from me.

My first thought was, “Oh too bad that I can’t go to that.” John said, “You should go!” I told him that it would be too expensive in terms of money and time away from work. He reiterated his support.

Today, I started looking at frequent flier fares. I don’t fly a lot but I have one of those credit cards that earns frequent flier miles. I looked up my miles. I had over 100,000! Then I looked up the fares to NC. There was only one outgoing flight for which I could use my miles. It wasn’t a lot of miles or money but it was only one flight. I also saw that I had 24 hours to cancel it without penalty. So I booked the flight from Seattle to Raleigh, NC and back again. It cost a third of my miles plus $36.

I am typically loathe to make plans so quickly. Also, my work schedule usually makes this impossible. However, October is very slow for my practice. I complained all last October about this. “Whaaaaaah! Whaaaaaaah! Whaaaaah! Where is all of the business? Nobody loves me!”

After this, it got busy as Hell. There is a seasonality to my work.

I often say that one can have time or money, but not both. This seemed like an opportunity to have time, spend minimal money (I have lots of friends who would house me for free), and reconnect with people who were and are very important to me.

But people, I don’t usually work this fast. I need time to PREPARE for my trips. There are plans to be made! There are mental preparations!

Then I remembered. My original doctoral adviser, retired early and then died a few years later, from breast cancer. I never saw her again after she retired. You know how kids love their teachers? I loved Betty Gordon. I really did. She was wonderful, a really wonderful person, teacher, researcher, and psychologist. After she retired, I asked Joe to be my adviser. He agreed. I was initially leery since I did not know him well as a research adviser. He was excellent. And as a person, Joe is the person we all want to be when we grow up! He is very energetic, a life long learner. When I was at UNC, he decided after 30 years to take up the tuba again. He actually marched in the university marching band for  a year! And on University Day, Joe, who also had a dramatic flair, dressed as Sigmund Freud.

I have passed by opportunities before because they seemed too fast. When an opportunity comes up quickly, it seems like it is “cheating” to take it. Like it is undeserved.

This time I thought, “Why not? When will I get this opportunity again? I haven’t been back to Chapel Hill in ages.”

So I am going.

My official title is “Dr. MacKenzie”. This is because I have a doctoral degree, a Ph.D. in psychology. In formal settings, I introduce myself this way. I also introduce myself this way to groups of children, for example, when I used to supervise my daughter’s classroom so that the teacher could have a break for lunch. I didn’t see a reason to introduce myself otherwise and further, I think it is a good example to girls to know that women can get advanced degrees.

My first job after getting my Ph.D. was a post-doctoral fellowship. When my husband was doing our taxes, I felt very diminished when I saw that he had listed my profession as “student”. And then I got really mad at him when he tried to justify it by saying, “What’s the difference?” I am not an unforgiving woman but I will tell you that I get hurt quickly at these times when the response is something other than, “Oops, I’m sorry. I will fix that right away.”

A long time ago, the term “doctor” became the name of a profession rather than reflective of whether one had a doctoral degree or not. The term “doctor” became synonymous with the perfectly excellent and specific name, “physician”. I don’t know when this started but my dissertation chair claimed that the doctorate, the Ph.D., goes back to the Middle Ages and that M.D.’s stole it.

Words matter but I am finding increasingly in my own professional life that it doesn’t matter so much to me. I am older now and established in my profession. I have a good reputation. I no longer live in the very sexist world of academia. In the clinical world, working with children and adolescents, being female is more desirable, generally. Lots of my patients’ parents call me by my first name. It’s not a big deal to me on a personal level. But it is a significant deal when it comes to my profession. People understand that physicians complete many years of training and education. A lot of people think that I have a master’s degree, which is a fine accomplishment, but on average involves five less years of training and education.

Similarly, words matter in the world of breast cancer. Most of us who have it are women and if we are paying attention, we have learned that sexist words matter, too. There are words and phrases in the breast cancer community that have resulted in people feeling diminished such as “survivor” or the war analogy. These words matter because they define us and impact the way others view us.

I don’t want to diminish anybody so I am careful with the words I use. But on a personal level, I don’t mind the terms “survivor” or the war analogy, even if I don’t use the latter in reference to myself.  I understand why they bother people and I empathize with that. And I am a firm believer in each of us having the right to self-define.

But there’s the tricky bit, if we don’t at least a little shared language and identity, having cancer can be even more lonely. And if we have too much shared language that doesn’t resound with us at an individual level, it is that lonely feeling we have even when we are surrounded by people. And when other people who don’t even have breast cancer tell us what our identity is, that’s just hurtful and maddening!

I know I have written about this time and time again but it is no wonder that the balance between connection and distinction is a major task for adolescent identity development.

Whatever we chose to call ourselves, I am so happy to be part of this community and wish all of you the very best of health.

One of the things I like about my camera, is that I don’t have to change lenses. It is a point-and-shoot, not a fancy camera. I find that I take the best photos when I am actually carrying a camera. This sounds silly but my little point-and-shoot fits into my purse as well as into the zippered pocket of my hiking shirt. (Yes, there is such a thing and I wear it over a t-shirt or around my waist.)

My camera has one lens and because of this it is much lighter. But I can’t see as much with it.

In my daily life, I feel that I am constantly changing lenses, the way I see the world. Sometimes, it changes so quickly that I can’t get a good view of anything, just constant changes, blurs of different colors and no definite shapes. These are very difficult days, among the most difficult. It is on these days that I feel frozen for anywhere from a few minutes to a day or two.

I added a cancer lens to my bag a couple of years back. Before the diagnosis, it was a general purpose lens, called, “bad medical stuff that is unlikely to happen but I get it checked out just in case”. And yes, I knew about the one out of eight figure for breast cancer in U.S. women. That’s still the minority and that’s a lifetime incidence, too. The percentage of cancer diagnosed at age 46 is considerably lower.

Then I found myself at age 46, diagnosed with breast cancer and having what would be revealed as four small invasive tumors, of low grade, meaning that tests estimated them to be relatively slow growing.

The cancer lens puts cancer at the center of view when it needs to be there. For me, it was the time of active treatment, which also coincided with continued assessment through scans and pathology reports, the latter occurring after each of my three cancer surgeries.

Now I am considered a “survivor” and  my cancer lens keeps the possibility of cancer in the periphery. I have been told that I have excellent peripheral vision, both literally and figuratively.

My energy continues to return. There are so many legitimate reasons that reduce the energy of a breast cancer patient, chemo, oral medications, repeated surgeries, stress, working to make loved ones feel better, etc.

The cancer lens is also one of those things that can wear us down. Thinking about cancer, every day, even if only for a moment. I see many women worn down by the fatigue of cancer and I believe that this is a very real part of the burden.

The cancer lens can also bring things into finer focus, though. The preciousness of life, the motivation to treasure moments and to appreciate them. This is where people get into this whole, “cancer is a gift” thing. And yes, I agree that it is not a gift. But having a life threatening illness forced my hand to cope with my life and take care of myself better. The way I have dealt with cancer, by and large, has been a gift I have given to myself.

This week, I’ve had a hard time with anxiety, despite the fact that I am on vacation.  I am somewhat disappointed with myself, to be totally truthful, but I am working toward acceptance of the fact that I am a very anxious woman at times and this is one of the times, right before the beginning of a near school year and my daughter’s birthday, when the business of my life can overwhelm me.

My friend, Nancy, also a psychologist and a breast cancer survivor, spent a few hours together earlier this week. We spoke of our friendship. Nancy remarked that even though I have dealt with some heavy problems as a parent and a person, she does not worry about me the way she might worry about her other friends. I actually feel the same way about her. Nancy is very smart, very kind, and very real. She is a very clear thinker. Most of the time, I think I think very clearly, too.

Clarity is a powerful tool.  Clarity means seeing things head on, the possibilities and the certainties. It is at times frightening, at other times just the tool needed to dig through a very deep problem, and at other times, absolutely liberating.

I am real. Sometimes that is hard for people, including me.

“Are you ready to frolic?”

I overhead the question, spoken in a gentle male voice, from a nearby campsite. After I turned my head toward the source, I saw that a father had asked his young girl, who couldn’t have been more than 17 or 18 months old, this question. She said something about “froggie”. He father responded, “Yes, let’s have froggie go frolicking with us, too.”

Camping brings forth images of enjoying stately woods in solitude, like one’s own personal communion with God. Unless one is a backpacker, this is typically not the case.

I am on vacation, camping on Orcas Island, which is part of the San Juan Islands in northern Washington state. We are extremely close to British Columbia, Canada. The islands are only accessible by boat. Some of them are accessible by public transportation, that is, the Washington State Ferry System, which is the largest of its kind in the U.S. It takes a good part of the day to get up here and there are very few campgrounds. We are staying at one of two on Orcas Island, the other being a dozen sites on Obstruction Pass, which are “walk in” (camp equipment is hauled down a mile long trail to the campground) and cannot be reserved ahead of time.

I reserved our campsite eights months ago and even that far ahead, most of the spots were already taken. So, the campground is a busy place. It also happens to be located right on the main road. Now, Orcas Island is far less densely populated than say, Manhattan Island, but car traffic is heard from our little campsite in the woods. We have also had visitors.  A little dog named, “Nacho” has visited three times since he arrived yesterday, along with his family, who hung both a U.S. and a Seattle Seahawks flag outside of their tent. Earlier this week, we had a number of visits from a blond toddler with big brown eyes. He just observed with curiosity, whatever we were doing in the seconds until his father, a gentle and patient Israeli man, walked down to scoop him up and take him back.

Campgrounds are typically a home base for outings into the wild or at least the wilder. Nonetheless, communion with nature can even be found in a busy state campground. (Tip: In the U.S., National Park campgrounds tend to be prettier and more secluded than state campgrounds. However, state campgrounds often have showers.) In our few days here, I have seen the green mountain in back of Cascade Lake, visible from our campsite, the sun glistening on the water. The nights have been clear and dark. Two nights ago, I saw the constellations and the Milky Way.

I hear people complain a lot about car camping around here because of the people “spoiling” nature. And honestly, sometimes people can really be annoying in the woods. But to me, hearing a father asking his little girl if she’s “ready to frolic” is a most gentle gift.

This is the gift of the next generation learning how to love nature’s majesty and surprise.

And froggie gets to join them, too.

What could be more natural?

 

Some days have all of the ingredients for a delicious meal.

Then the salt is mistaken for the sugar and it’s all gone to shit.

I’m working to correct this day.

Sometimes the only solution is for time to pass. An early bedtime for me and then a do over for tomorrow.

Having admitted defeat to Wednesday, I am already starting to feel better.

My memories of high school and of my adolescence have changed over the years. I remember as a very young adult, being embarrassed at my adolescent immaturity. In most ways I was a square. It was not so much about whether I inhaled because I didn’t take drugs, smoke, or drink. Exhaling, however, was another matter. There were some not so bon mots that emerged from my big mouth. Over time, I came to appreciate that I was still pretty young with much to learn. That’s what youth is for, lots of rapid growth.

For a long time, I thought that high school, though not as horrendous as middle school, was pretty awful. Over the last two years, as I’ve reflected on my life in this blog, and further, as I’ve reconnected with old friends, I’ve questioned the accuracy of my recollection. Maybe it wasn’t so bad.

Memory is dynamic. It changes over time and I’m not just talking about the decay of memory. We also add information, without even realizing it. Our current state of mind also impacts what we remember and how we remember it. Imagine how this impacts our memory as we reflect time and time again about different events in our lives. It is a process that may or may not increase the accuracy of our memory but nonetheless solidifies our confidence in the correctness of recollection.

On Friday night, I attended my 30th high school reunion. I was on the reunion committee this time and I was in charge of the Facebook page for the reunion. It put me in the role of interacting with a wide number and variety of former classmates, not just the ones with whom I was friends.

By and large, it was a really fun thing to do. There are a number of interesting and kind people with whom I had the privilege of interacting in the months leading up to the reunion.

I received a lot of positive feedback for being active and inclusive in my handling of the Facebook page. It was gratifying because I worked very hard to do just that. And at the reunion a surprisingly big cheer emerged from the crowd when my name was announced as a member of the reunion committee.

People appeared to enjoy themselves a good deal last Friday. As the ”voice” of our reunion, I got more credit than I deserved for its success. A lot of people worked very hard on it, they just did so mostly behind the scenes.

The flip side of this is that by the next day, a few complaints started rolling in, some communicating privately and other posting publically.

I can’t speak for another person’s heart or mind, but a minority of the comments seemed rooted in pain from the past and negative memories of events from the past.

I attended my 20th reunion. At that time, I spent a lot of energy trying to remember everyone and our experiences. I was worried about people feeling forgotten and left out.

Something interesting happened this time, though. I  went to a large high school and was managing a Facebook group that contained nearly two-thirds of my graduating class. There was no way I was going to remember all of those people so I focussed a lot more on learning about people as they currently are.

I found that this helped me reconnect with old friends at a somewhat deeper level and to make new friends with people with whom I shared a very important time of life, our childhood.

Today, I realize that this is something that my husband and I are trying to do. We started dating in our late adolescence and I have long believed that there is a residual of the tumultuous aspects of that time in our lives that carries forward continued challenges to our relationship.

Added to that, my cancer was scary and confusing. When I am disoriented, I deal with the lack of a coherent knowledge of reality by using my memories, even for mundane daily events, as milemarkers in my life, in order to regain my footing and direction. John and I, however remember daily events quite differently.

This has led John and I to spend a lot of time arguing about differences in our memories for even daily logistics. This disorients me. It feels like being on different pages of different books written in different languages.

But when John and I talk about our current feelings instead of rehashing unpleasantness from the past, even the recent past, we almost always connect at a deep level.

History is always important. Often it is important to reflect upon the past, even the painful past, in order to grow. I am learning more and more, however, to identify the times when this is not the case.

Sometimes in order to be on the same page of the same book, we have to put the book aside and talk to eachother

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A breast cancer experience in cartoons

cancer in my thirties

I was a mom to twin kindergartners and had just turned 34 when a breast CANCER diagnosis completely changed my life...

The Breast Cancer Warrior

Finding opportunity through adversity

Telling Knots

About 30% of people diagnosed with breast cancer at any stage will develop distal metastasis. I am one of them.

Not Down Or Out

It could be worse. I might not be laughing.

Entering a World of Pink

a male breast cancer blog

Luminous Blue

a mother's and daughter's journey with transformation, cancer, death and LOVE

I'm getting my boobs chopped off

One girl, two boobs, a genetic mutation and a big decision

Fierce is the New Pink

Run to the Bear!

My Lymph Node Transplant

One woman's quest for better health... living with lymphoedema

Shittytittiebangbang

My journey beyond breast cancer at 37 years young

Gluten Free Gus

Baking Joy Into Every Gluten-free Bite

gregsmithmd

mental health musings

The Sarcastic Boob

Determined to Manage Breast Cancer with the Same Level of Sarcasm with which I Manage Everything Else

FEC-THis

Life after a tango with death & its best friend cancer

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