I was in a workout class with a breast cancer shirt on. Being big into health and wellness I also am big into advocating for myself.
The technician put the sonogram to my breast and I could just tell on her face. From that moment on my life changed drastically. It was off to the races with surgeries to place a port for chemotherapy. They pulled lymph nodes to see if the cancer had spread and I was in a chemotherapy chair within eight days.
During that time, I was in my ninth year of marriage to a man. We were an active military couple.
Cancer revealed the cracks in our marriage
We fell apart. I got through everything. There were some situations with honesty and loyalty and at the end of it when I returned to work more things were revealed.
You say in sickness and in health and I think when you say those words when you’re young you’re envisioning the sickness when you’re older. When it’s faced in your early 30’s, during these invincible years, it just really hit that those words that we had spoken to each other he wasn’t able to uphold. I didn’t want to move forward with my life with someone that wasn’t willing to stand by that commitment.
I kinda sent an old-school Dear John letter.
It was kinda like this extreme rebirth. He was kinda the only man I knew in my own life. I lost my hair, my skin, my fertility, my breasts, you know…everything that’s feminine and ideally thought of as a woman and I was only 31-years old and now the man I had committed to was out of my life.
I had taken a break from work and now I had to reinvent myself with my career. It was very symbolic as well as quite literally a rebirth.
I had to rest on that core and find my way again of who I was who I wanted to create myself to be. I dove into the support network I had as well as that grieving and allowing myself to process everything that had changed. It occurred to me, get to know myself again.
My grief wasn’t really linear and it didn’t come with one face. My grief came in waves. There were times when I felt so much relief and so much joy was back in the home which was very strange.
I was grieving this dynamic change that had occurred in our home, but at the same time, all of a sudden finding so much joy, and laughter, and freedom so it was really this weird up and down up and down roller coaster ride of grief.
When you’re going through the fight that is cancer and even divorce you’re in the thick of it.
In the military there’s a saying to get through boot camp, it’s meal-to-meal, Sunday-to-Sunday, month-to-month. Little milestones that I had to kind of focus on. I fell back on those tools that I knew. I had to slowly rebuild every piece.
I had to just lean into I’m no longer a wife or a friend or a partner, but I’m still a mom and this is my home.
I found joy in realizing the mom I want to be without the anger that I used to have as a wife. I could let that baggage go. The driving force behind me was what kind of mom do I want to be.
I am notorious for feeling all the feels and allowing myself to when they occur. I’m the crier at the wedding. I give myself that space to feel, and I mean fully feel when it’s happening to me.
When I was going through this I journaled immensely to be able to get it out.
Through chemo to chemo, I didn’t think I would be able to get to the next one. I’ve allowed myself to grieve and process. I’m big into therapy. I joke that I was such a mess that I had two therapists at one time. One for the cancer…and then I had a divorce/family therapist who helped me through that whole process.
I gave myself a mohawk and wore it for two weeks. My name’s mo so of course I had a mohawk and my son thought I was just the coolest.
Find those little pockets where you can still laugh and be silly despite and almost in honor of the sadness and despair going on.
It’s built with these tiny little tools that you do consistently and that you respect and you honor daily and they may seem trite but I stayed consistent.
I was able to take help for the first time. Sometimes people are too prideful to take help and that taught me so much to take help. You’ve got to accept what’s happening to you but you don’t have to surrender 100% to what’s happening to you.
You’re not alone. You’re not the only one. A lot of marriages crack under that pressure and you’re not doing anything wrong. You can make it out the other side.
If you get this perspective that there’s got to be more and it has got to be better, then I encourage you to seek a better way and a better life and know that it’s okay to mourn, to grieve, to feel the feels, but you’re gonna come through the other side and find a community where you feel like you’re not alone.