Vacations are supposed to be relaxing. They are supposed to provide a way of escaping the day-to-day dilemmas and disasters. They are supposed to provide us with an opportunity to slow things down, to get done those things we want to do but which we often don’t have the time to do, they are supposed to provide us time to relax, to recreate, to even escape our realities in some way, if need be. At least, this is true in theory.
Someone once stated, “All we have to fear is fear itself.” For the most part, I’d agree. I have my own statement about fear, “Fear never made a good decision.” Today, as I faced my first of 33 sessions of radiation, I wonder if facing the unknown isn’t also a valid enough cause for fear. By unknown, I don’t mean the unknown where the possible risks or consequences are relatively minor. I’m talking about the high stakes unknown where the risks are great and the consequences unknown or potentially damaging, lasting, or life threatening.
My life is a convergence of unknowns right now. This creates a great deal of stress for me. Stress is not good for our health and even more so with those dealing with cancer or pre-cancer. I liken my life to a vessel like the Titanic, which is large and carries the responsibility for the lives and futures of many. I’m not a control freak, but I do like to have my cake and eat it too, whenever possible. I like everyone to be able to do their life and attend all their events. With five or six schedules to deal with, this can be a challenge. I find that if I know in advance, I can usually plan things or get the needed help or money in order to make it all happen. As long as I know far enough in advance, I can maneuver around the icebergs in life and make sure it is smooth sailing for everyone.
When navigating icy seas at night, charting a course that is mostly unknown is, to me, terrifying in many ways. Of course, not many are gifted in seeing the future. This unknown is always with us, and for the most part, I don’t worry a bit about it. But today, lying in that treatment room, both arms frozen over my head, alone, with only the buzzing, clicking and spinning of a very large, intimidating, flat-faced one-eyed machine to keep me company, I felt my first really strong emotions since this whole breast cancer journey started. it wasn’t panic, but it was something close. It wasn’t fear, but it was something close to fear. There was great sadness there, too, along with wonder and a substantial dose of gratitude, which is always part of my emotional palette. Maybe it was just the fact that I was tied down in a room with a very large and intimidating machine that seemed to move of its own volition that spooked me.
The radiation treatment took barely 25 minutes from the time I walked in the building to the time I walked out. I feel nothing…yet. More blue ink drawn on me to ruin my clothing and, with no great fanfare, I’m off to a day of making life smooth for everyone; dodging icebergs along the way and retorting as needed.
But I’m scared.
What if I have made and am making devastating choices with irreversible consequences?
What if the results of these decisions, intended to make the sailing through life smoother for us all, actually make things worse?
And…the question that plagues me and can really make me crazy if I let it…what if…instead of getting better, things don’t ever get better…or they get worse?
Then of course, there are other unknowns, more practical ones.
What is my schedule for radiation treatment going to be? Will I need to take more time off? How will my body respond? Will I be able to continue work without having to take any time off? My last treatment is scheduled to be June 5. That is three days before the last day of school. How will this impact the rest of the school year? How long will the effects of radiation last and how will that impact my summer?
Then, there are issues about the school district discovering my recent move and insisting I complete an inter-district transfer, since my new address is out of the district where my two older children attend school. This gets tricky because it means both districts must approve the request. If they do not, then I have a daughter, who within seven weeks of graduation will have to face finishing her senior year at another high school. Now, I can’t imagine any school district official being so evil as to insist that this happen, but budgets being what they are, school districts are less likely to grant transfers than they have in the past. I will also have a son, who at the end of his sophomore year, will have to attend high school where they have none of the activities that he is currently involved in.
On a side note, you might wonder why I moved if the high school in the district I was moving to was inadequate. The move was a good one, for my youngest. The entire family, even the high-schoolers were, and still are, in favor of moving to where we moved. I just didn’t imagine the transfer issue would be a big deal. I’m now hearing that it could be. I don’t yet know. I filled out the paperwork and we will just have to wait and see. It’s an iceberg I can’t exactly dodge or move right now. I’m kind of hope it’s a mirage and it will evaporate as I approach.
Then there is the added stress of the Evil Ex seeking a modification of the child support. The unknowns here were more frightening until I met with my attorney this afternoon. I had to part with $150 hard earned dollars, but it was money well spent and good information I received. She was able to paint a picture of the worst likely scenario (bad, but not intolerable). She was also able to paint a realistic picture of what was likely to happen. This helps me chart the course through the iceberg strewn sea of Post-Divorce Dealings With The Evil Ex.
In other posts, I’ve mentioned the financial iceberg that creates stress as it slides along the ship that is our family. I worry that any day now an edge will puncture us and we will sink. For now, we remain afloat.
The icebergs continue to converge with no relief. One after another appears out of the fog of unknown possibilities and they are all frightening in their own way. I can’t do anything about them right now…I can’t even see them clearly enough to know which direction to turn the ship. All I can do is survive today. And after today, tomorrow. And after tomorrow, the next day. I hope that, by so doing, I will eventually find that I have successfully maneuvered my way through the icy currents I’m experiencing to warmer, more pleasant waters.