I’m meeting with a surgeon next week.
On bad days, it feels like I have spent my adulthood having surgeries and suffering between surgeries. I’ve averaged one pelvic surgery every two years since my senior year of college, and this latest one, should it take place, will be right on track with that, as my last one was in January of 2011.
I’m weary of it. I’m worn out by it. I’m also just weary and worn out in general right now. I’m in moderate pain daily, and I wake up in pain multiple times a night on top of waking up to care for our son (which my husband does as well, to be clear). And while I have an amazing time with my awesome little son, it hit me a while back that I just can’t be fully present with him all day long like I want to be when I’m hurting at this level. (The pain has gotten worse since we adopted him.) So as scary as surgery is–and it is scary; it may mean giving up more organs and any hope of fertility–I’ll take the hope it may offer over this state, if the surgeon thinks there is hope to be had.
There’s such a strong strain of thought running through our culture right now that says that you must always think positively if you want positive things to happen. I think hope is one of the most important words in our language. I think it is so important that I asked for a friend to give me a necklace with a tiny ‘hope’ charm before my very first surgery, and I wear it every time I am going through a day that I know will be scary–like the day of this upcoming appointment.
But I also think that when we think that we can only think positively about the future, we’re not really eliminating the negative or more difficult emotions. Instead, what we’re often doing is stuffing down those harder emotions so that we don’t have to feel them head-on. But they’re still there in our bodies, in our hearts. They may come out through addictive behaviors–anything from drinking too much to overeating or compulsively controlling our eating. They may come out through physical suffering. They may come out through lashing out at people around us for unrelated things. But they’re present whether we want to recognize them or not. Anyone who says he has only positive emotional experiences is lying and probably also selling something.
I’m trying to accept those emotions and give them space in my life. I’m crying a lot right now, and while that is hard to admit for some reason, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Some days, I’m feeling a good bit of hope, and some days, I’m feeling so upset that this is my body at the age of 32, despite everything I’ve tried (and I have spent an enormous amount of energy, time, and money trying to change this situation, always hoping the next idea would be the thing that would work).
Lately I have worked to give up the idea that my diet will cure me. I’ve tried everything from macrobiotic to vegetarianism to Paleo eating. (Paleo-ish eating does suit my health best in other ways, but it hasn’t cured me.) And I’ve been working to give up the idea that holistic treatments (though, again, they’re good for me) will cure me: I’ve spent over $15,000 in the last three years going that route, probably over $20,000 in the last five years. I’m not sure Western medicine can cure me, either–I’m not sure I can be cured–and there is something both terrifying and freeing in the idea of giving up the idea that there will be any one thing that will suddenly make me okay.
I’m not always doing great at feeling these emotions. They take up a lot of space in my head, and at some times they add to the ache in my body, like while I’m typing this. Letting myself feel it all instead of hiding from it isn’t easy. I made gluten-free, vegan cupcakes yesterday, and I ate more of them that I would care to admit before I sent the rest to work with my husband, for his co-workers. But moment by moment, I’m working to let the feelings be without trying too hard to turn away. I think it’s an important skill to have as a whole-hearted adult.