It can be lonely – feeling every person you know gather around you for a year, then watching them slowly be swallowed back by daily troubles.
The loneliness and isolation other young adult survivors feel after treatment is common. I’ve found my new normal, but that means not equating daily oddities to being abnormal. Some mornings my feet are on pins and needles when I step foot onto the cold tile in my bathroom. Some days I realize don’t have a sense of touch in my fingers when I try to feel feathers on a bird or the petals on a flower. Some days my body reacts so poorly to new food, I’m awake for hours whimpering and tossing in pain until I can ignore the throbbing enough to fall asleep. I’d like to bike in to work, but my butt will probably be too raw to handle the saddle.
These are just my new set of daily considerations, like the weather or what to cook for dinner.
I keep my mind focused on the new and the good. I’ve found a new hobby in kayaking, and have re-immersed myself in transportation via bike. Occasionally, when I paddling or pedaling really hard, I feel like I can outrun the pain of the past. I’m free while pushing myself to exhaustion. In that moment I control direction of the day and where I am going, I control my destiny.
In my own small ways, I feel myself breaking rules by doing things slightly differently every day. In each triumph, I find a little more happiness: my beach at Holmes Lake where everyone looks but no one sits, especially no one shores with their kayak, lays on the sand, and snacks on trail mix; my tree at lunch I sit under and lean against, while everyone sits properly at tables; my views watching traffic pass on either my bike or bus. With each triumph, I feel a little more at home.
I’ve been experimenting with new lifestyles, although Buddhism and Zen practice don’t sit right in my heart. However, I have been enjoying the minimalist approach. My ever-condensing closet no longer holds an option for every “just in case” event. It holds clothes I feel like myself wearing, and ironically, clothes I can’t wait to wear out. Clothes I get to have experiences in, and use to their full extent. Clothes my body will outlast.
Photos on my Facebook page that are older than two years are rare, as people who weren’t there don’t need to know what I was doing back then. I’ve found myself trying not to look that far back or that far forward in life in general. No good comes from dwelling on the past, and there’s no use longing for the future. Things that have hurt us should be put to rest, if people and things are good enough to be in your life today, they will be. If all you have are memories from years, let them go. If they need to be in your future, trust they will follow you there.
However, as my year 29 lurks around the corner, I still look ahead to 30. Big plans to come!