I have mastered the art of looking better than I feel. It was really awkward when I first started going out in public after my hair grew back from chemotherapy. People who didn’t know or hadn’t really paid attention, were always complimenting on how great I looked. True, I had gone from a curvy 140 to a less curvy 120 but seriously. Really? After my mastectomy, I tried to dress in a way to draw attention away from my chest. No easy feat for someone who had been carrying around DD’s since she was fourteen. But I did. And people kept telling me how great I looked. Really? Cause my shit is all kinds of fucked up.
I don’t do it on purpose. I was raised to be two things: pretty and never ask for help. These two things work well when one is in the middle of completely falling all the pieces but not really comfortable with anyone knowing that because your raising tells you to stop whining, suck it up and don’t be a bother. So I don’t. I put on lipstick, I fix my hair, I smile and I go about what business I can go about. The most I’ll do is accept help from the dear baggers at Publix, most of whom remember when I was doing my shopping in those little beep beep carts and had no eyebrows.
But the biggest thing is always looking as good as possible and passing for sane and intact. I’m afraid one of these days I’m going to run into a well-meaning acquaintance at some local cafe and they are going to holler a friendly ‘how you doing’?’ and it’s all going to come gushing out my mouth and I won’t be able to stop it. It will all be out there, for everyone to see. I’m not invincible. I’m not in control. I’m not in charge. I am not an island, unto myself. My shit is not together.
I met with my therapist today. I told her my plan, while all of my girlfriends were on spring break or otherwise occupied, was to spend the week eating Easter candy and watching television. Later, she asked me how was I going to cope with this crushing sadness I feel now, what was my daily plan. I told her I wasn’t kidding. I’m going to eat Easter candy and watch television. I’m going to up every morning, make myself a cup of tea. Someone is going to come walk my dog. I’m going to read the news, breathe in and out, watching the sun on the wall, nap, watch The Big Bang Theory re-runs, fiddle with internet things, then eat dinner and wait for it to get late enough to go to bed. And then one day, some day, I won’t feel like this. I won’t be angry and sad and unable to leave the house.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, my shit will still not be together, but I won’t be angry and sad about it. My surgical wounds will be healed and I will return to my normal levels of pain, discomfort and witty sarcasm. Then, I get to repeat the entire process a few weeks later. If I don’t have the most amazing set of breasts by the end of this year, it will not be for lack of effort. Y’all are really going to get tired of seeing my breasts all over town. I’m going to take them everywhere.
People ask me what they can do for me and I don’t know. I don’t. I don’t know. “What are you good at?” “How do you feel about minor car repair?” “Would you come over and rub my back while I fall asleep and tell me everything’s going to be okay?” “How about Chinese take-out and a movie?” “My house is caving in. Can you do something about that?” “I don’t really like these skinny jeans, what should I do?” I DON’T KNOW. I don’t know because the one thing I need is never, ever going to happen. So now, it is all about managing everything in the context of this is as good as stage iv breast cancer is ever going to treat you.
It is lipstick, perfume, orange pants, wine and prescription drugs getting me through my day. Smile pretty.