How a Hysterectomy and Broken Heart Saved Me…
Sometimes, when I think about a title for a post, I try to find a song title or a quote that fits the tone of what I’m writing. Then there are times when I go with whatever pops into my head. In the case of today’s post, nothing popped into my head. Nothing at all.
In fact, since I release Wetsuit I haven’t really felt like writing here, and instead I’ve focused on reading and working on Doliski, which seems to be the hardest thing I’ve had to write, or at least one of the hardest things.
I found the process of writing and editing Wetsuits so emotionally draining. I had no idea that I would feel so much during the days leading up to, and the two weeks after, the launch. I felt lighter.
I also felt sad. I was sad that that woman who wrote those essays is gone now, she’s moved on in a lot of ways. I learned so much about her – about myself – over the three years in which the stories behind those essays were taking place – and I love her. A lot.
I was 37 before I did anything truly just for myself. My doctor and I had been discussing a pre-cancerous issue and in a matter of minutes my doctor went from listening to saying she wanted me to consider having a hysterectomy. I left her office in a daze. I had just received my divorce papers and was planning college visits with A and all I hear was that my doctor was saying I was going to fundamentally change who I was, even though that’s not what she meant. I resisted for about two weeks, and then went for my second opinion.
It was during that consultation that my soon-to-be surgeon asked me to name the last time I had done something simply because I needed to do it for me. Not for a husband or a child or an employer. I couldn’t think of anything and that’s when I made the decision to have the surgery one week before Thanksgiving. I went to sleep on a Friday morning feeling one way and woke up a few hours later feeling like I had just taken control over something, but I didn’t know what that meant.
A few months later and I was planning to celebrate A’s high school graduation while holding on to a crushed heart. I was changing every day and the more I resisted, the faster changes came. One year after my hysterectomy and I was planning my first trip to Paris. And, once again, I made a decision that would change how I see the world and my place in it. I didn’t know that the simple act of putting myself first could change so much – if someone told me that was possible I sure didn’t listen.
And now, just over three years later and I love my body more today than I did before the surgery. I know what it’s like to give up something so important – the ability to have children – to allow for the possibility to really live. That’s powerful. Every day I am thankful that A and I have each other. Yes, sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to have more children, and then I remember that A and I make a perfect number for our own little family.
Three years later and I have healed both my body and my spirit – each day feels like something is possible and I thank whoever forced me to stop, for just a few moments, and really think about something bigger than I had allowed myself to imagine.
When Wetsuits came out I thought about how to say things I had held in or things I had already said, but not I a way that was easy to understand and I decided to go with my gut. I knew what I wanted the book to look like from start to finish and I held out for what I thought was important. That lesson I learned way back in 2009 has become a habit now. I used to do things even when my gut told me not to. Now, I listen in a way I hadn’t thought possible.
What’s next? Who knows. I think I want to write about friendships and how women need each other, yet don’t always realize it and I want to write about my mom, because I am grateful every day that I learned to understand who she was before she had me and that she knew I loved her before she died. And I know she loved me.
And I want to write about love and more love. And I want to experience so much love that when I get old, I’ll smile all the time thinking back to the many times love came in and hung out in my life.
What about you? What do you want to write about? What moves you? Where do you want to go? Who do you want to be? What do you want to remember?