There is a quote by Cheryl Strayed that says, “Let yourself be gutted. Let it open you. Start here.” It has been around for a while but has recently resurfaced in my life and caused me to take pause. In a couple of weeks I will hit the 1-year diagnosis milestone, and lately I’ve been finding myself reflecting on everything I’ve gone through this last year and how far I’ve come since then. I feel like I’m saying this a lot these days, but I truly feel it and I’ll keep writing about it until I run out of ways to say it.
Anyway, since I’ve gotten to this side of cancer, I’ve come to the realization that I’d been living in a fog of sorts for a while that only got worse after I was diagnosed. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was depressed. Maybe it was mild, or maybe I just learned to deal with it without even really noticing, but I know that before my diagnosis I had resigned myself to thinking that this is just life. Everyone seems to be miserable, so maybe this is just as good as it’s gonna get: I go to work, I go home, I hang out with friends, I go on dates, I travel every now and then, I sleep. Depression is the only way I know how to describe that feeling that something had been missing from my life. And what’s worse: I didn’t know it was there until I’d gotten out from under it. Until I realized I already had everything in my power to be happy, and I finally just let myself be happy!
And now, for the first time in my life, I know what it feels like to be lifted from depression completely. I love waking up in the mornings. I love going to sleep – I sleep a lot to manage my exhaustion which is still very real – but I always wake up refreshed and ready for whatever my day may bring. Mondays no longer hold power over me. I love going to work. I love coming home from work. I love going out (when I’ve had a nap). I love staying in – my home has been my refuge through all of this. Nowadays, I find joy in the smallest things, which is a mindset I absolutely love being in but never thought was attainable. I am legit happy for no reason – I feel like Spring personified (I totally stole this from an Instagrammer). I still do all of the things I did when I was in that fog, but now I do them with joy in my heart, which makes ALL the difference.
But the fight to get to this place wasn’t easy. I had to give up so many things, including my most prized possession. I was quite literally gutted, and while I’m still not done with procedures and doctors and appointments, I’m able to see the light at the end of the cancer tunnel. And in my eyes, it was totally worth every sacrifice to get into this headspace that helps me navigate those procedures and doctors and appointments in a good mood.
Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t wish any of this on my worst enemy, but I’m at peace with the fact that breast cancer was chosen to be a part of my journey. It has forced me to dig further into myself than I ever have before, to find strength I wasn’t sure I had, to learn things about myself and my time here on this earth that many people may not ever get to experience in their lifetime.
Maybe it’s fleeting because life progresses in cycles of ups and downs, but I feel like I can accomplish anything I put my mind to right now, and I want to cherish that feeling for as long as it lasts.
A year ago I had no idea how much better life could get, and now that I’m here I plan on taking my time and enjoying it. A year ago I had no plan for my life. No idea where I wanted to be in 5 years. But today I know exactly where I want my future to take me. This could still change in a heartbeat, because life and shit happen, but for the next few years, I want to spend my time working at this company that I’ve fallen in love with, making money, and traveling. Just living my life and getting more and more familiar with the one I am building for myself.
I love my home, live in a gorgeous neighborhood, work with some wonderful people, and am raising a psycho – yet beautiful – soul of a puppy (and a cat who’s soul isn’t quite as beautiful but I love him nonetheless). Maybe one day I’ll even find a man that I’ll want to stick around – I’d love to share this life with someone eventually, but I’m not as concerned about that as I used to be. So until that day comes, I’m spending my now enjoying it all on my own.
“Let yourself be gutted.
Let it open you.
A year ago this quote would have meant nothing to me. I’d have seen it, read it, and scrolled past it thinking, “That’s a nice quote.” But reading it now, it takes on an entirely different meaning.
And if you haven’t read Wild, do yourself a favor and move it to the top of your list. Especially if you’re going through a rough patch in your life. These patches can make or break you. I want to encourage you to let it break you, and then let it make you into the person you were always meant to be.