Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Giving Thanks. What a difference a year can make!

I have been doing some reflecting these past weeks.  Thinking about what was going on this time last year and how much things have changed since then.  There is a lot to be thankful for.

At this time last year I was living with my ex.  His sister and her family (her husband, a 2 year old, and a 2 month old) had been staying with us indefinitely.  They weren't helping out with the household finances in any way.  If anything they were using way to much water (washing the coffee pot out for 20  minutes at a time), generating too much garbage (one entire kitchen sized bag every day), sneaking alcohol into the house (someone was an alcoholic), and in general causing a lot of problems for my boyfriend and I.  I remember all of the fights and anger, all the tiptoeing around everyone.  I chose to take the upstairs room as my escape from all the noise and drama unfolding downstairs.  My ex was hardly ever home as he was in school at the time and when he was not in class or studying he was at the bar escaping the situation.  Lets just say that things in our home were not happy in the slightest way.  I am not one to keep my opinions to myself for very long, especially when the situation is not improving and even more so if it is going on in my home.  I voiced my opinion on many occasions, nicely at first then as time went on I became more vocal and more pissed off at the situation.  I felt it was horribly disrespectful to have an entire family living with us, a family with two small children and an alcoholic.  A family where no one was seriously trying to get a job or help out with anything at all.  I made enemies not only out of my boyfriends family, but by this time my boyfriend hated me too.  He couldn't understand how I could be so cold toward his sister and her family.  I was pissed that I had liver cancer and somehow it was ok to just sit and watch an alcoholic destroy their family and my relationship.  No one else seemed to care.  Boyfriend just went off to the bar, and I was the one who was being the bitch.  Who cared if I was in chemotherapy at the time?  Who cared that I only weighed about 108 pounds and came home from chemo feeling like a train just ran over me?  Who cared that my brain felt like it was melting out of my ears and that I was an emotional wreck?  Who cared that I actually felt like I could die at any given moment?  Certainly not my boyfriend or his family.

Shortly before Thanksgiving last year boyfriends sister and family finally left us.  It wasn't their decision, it all came down because the alcoholism could no longer be swept under the rug.  Everyone's nerves were finally tested to their limits.  I was overjoyed that I could finally get some peace and quiet and that I didn't have to hide myself or my food from anyone.  I was elated that I could finally feel at home in my home and that I wasn't exiled to the attic anymore.  I was excited that boyfriend and I could get to work on mending those connections that were severed due to family drama.  I left for Seattle so that bf's family could pack in peace and so that bf could spend a little more "quality" time with them without me around.  It took a week for them to be gone.  I waited anxiously to return to a quiet home, I was so looking forward to having bf all to myself.  I wasn't really prepared for what happened upon my arrival.

I came walking through the door to find bf in his usual spot parked on the sofa watching sports (any sport would do) and playing solitaire on his computer.  This didn't surprise me at all as this was the norm in our house.  I expected that he would be excited to see me and excited that we had our home back, drama free.  He would barely even look at me.  I knew something was wrong so I approached him and asked point blank what it was.  This is when he told me that he blamed me for everything that went wrong with his sister and their family.  He told me that I was the one who was unreasonable and that I handled the entire situation badly.  He didn't know if he could be with someone who treated his family in the way I did.  Apparently I was supposed to be ok with being exiled to the attic where I couldn't even stand up.  Apparently I was supposed to be alright with not even feeling comfortable in my own home, not being able to cook meals without a 2 year old "helping" me, ok with the mounting pile of water and utility bills.  I was apparently supposed to be ok with having an alcoholic living under my roof (quite ironic really considering I have liver cancer).  Apparently I was supposed to just let it slide and accept that I had to live with all of this while fighting for my life, and while approaching 2 years of chemotherapy.  He was mad at me, very mad.  My illusion of things returning to normal around the house was shattered.   I had been thinking about moving out of the house for a while (ever since sister showed up) and this new situation only hastened that process.  I called my mom for advice.  She knew everything that had been happening.  We made plans.  She came down to Portland, forgoing our family tradition of Thanksgiving at my gramma's house in Olympia.  We spent Thanksgiving packing and moving most of my belongings into a storage unit in Portland.  I had no where to live but I knew I needed to get out of the house and out of the current situation.  How can someone heal when there is nothing but negativity, animosity, anger, resentment, and bad energy surrounding them at all times?  My mom came to Portland nearly every week to help me deal with my situation.  By December 10th I was out of bf's home.  I had no where to go at the time and felt so alone that I did not even ask any of my friends if I could stay with them.  I didn't want to subject them to my drama, nor did I expect anyone to have to put up with my aging kitty who doesn't like to use her litter box anymore in her old age.  What did I do?  My mom bought me the Christmas present of a week in a nearby hotel.  I couldn't leave for Seattle right away as I had a lot of doctors appointments for both my cat and myself coming up, so I had to stay in town.  I spent 7 nights at a cheap motel, but at least I was alone and not having to deal with drama.  My things were scattered between a storage unit, my aunts house in WA, and at bf's house.  I had my cat and a couple of duffel bags of clothes.  It was at this time I decided to stop my chemo treatments.  I literally felt like they were killing me.  Every time I got chemo I could literally feel my brain cells popping in my head.  My eyes hurt from the toxic fumes off gassing from my body.  I could smell the chemo, I could taste it, I could feel it eating away at my body.  I was a complete an utter mess from the inside out.  I was so deflated and felt so abandoned and alone.  When all of the appointments were over I packed up the car with duffles, kitty, and kitty supplies and made the drive to Seattle not knowing what was going to happen next.  I notified bf (we were still trying to make things work at this point) that we would not be spending Christmas together and spent the next couple of weeks sleeping on my mom's sofa in her apartment in Seattle.  During that time I was notified that an apartment in government housing came up for me.  The day after Christmas my mom and aunt helped me pack up and gather some of my things from storage and we moved me into a tiny (325sq/ft) studio in the most disgusting building I had ever seen.  The day was a giant blur.  Drive 3 hours from Seattle with a diabetic, aging cat.  We crammed some of my belongings into the tiny space.  I said goodbye to my mom and aunt as they both had to work the next day.  Then I was left alone in my new space.  I got asked if I wanted to buy drugs by one of the tenants and was informed that I could find any drug I wanted at this new home of mine.  I was appalled!  I felt so alone and abandoned.  I quite seriously contemplated throwing myself in front of a bus.  Everything felt like it was it was being ripped apart at the seems and I did not see how in the world I was going to make it.  I really tried to find the bright spot but everything was so dark.  In the prior weeks I kept saying that I needed to get out of my situation at my home and that I just need somewhere, anywhere to live other than that house filled with bad energy.  I got exactly what I asked for.  A place to live, any place.  I guess I needed to be more specific :)

It has been a year now since all of this drama was so ever present and unavoidable in my life.  A lot has happened in the past 365 days.  I had hit the bottom, rock bottom, yet I still felt like the bottom kept falling out from under me.  I decided to try to make my world better.  I started focusing on exactly what I wanted and made notes to the universe telling it exactly what I needed to begin healing in every way.  I focused all of my energy on eating healthy, making juices, and finding a new apartment that was not so scary or dirty.  In two and a half months I found this new place, the place I am in now.  It is so much healthier and better than the last place.  I don't get solicited for drugs, my neighbors are very nice and I have actually made friends in the building.  I have more than one room to occupy and 225 more square feet to do it in.  I even have a little patio.  My cat is feeling much better too.  Shortly before I moved out of bf's house the vet told me that she was having thyroid issues (more medication, more $ out of my pocket).  She was not feeling good at that time at all.  I think it was mostly due to the stress of the living situation.  She has always picked up on my stress.  She runs and hides at the sound of an F-bomb.  She knows when I am not happy.  Even though she has thyroid issues on top of being diabetic, my cat is so much happier now as am I.

It has nearly been an entire year since my last chemo treatment.  In some ways it feels like it was just last week and in some ways it feels like a lifetime ago.  My liver still hurts, not as bad or as often as it did while I was getting chemo so for that I am thankful.  I still have chemo brain and neuropathy, but again, not as bad as it was a year ago.  I have gained weight (and now it is time to stop) and muscle mass, and hair back and that is a good thing.  There is one other thing too.

For the very first time in my entire life I am completely happy to be alone and not in a relationship with a man.  Now I have said this before, halfheartedly, trying to pump myself up after getting out of a bad relationship with someone, trying to tell myself that I did not want to be in a relationship and that I was taking time for myself.  I am sure we have all been there at some point.  Trying to spend our time on ourselves rather than on a failing relationship.  But this is actually the first time in my 41 years of life that I truly mean it.  I am so glad that I don't need to tiptoe around someone.  I am so glad that I don't have to feel like I am constantly doing something wrong or wonder why someone is mad at me.  I don't have to sit and pretend that I enjoy watching sports just to spend some time with someone even though they are just ignoring me anyway and playing solitaire on the computer.  I am so glad that my evenings out to dinner don't require that I go to a bar and eat horrible bar food while sitting there watching my significant other get wasted.  I am so glad that I have a clean, healthy, drug free, bed bug free, quiet, cigarette smokeless, drama free roof over my head.  I am so thankful to all of my friends and family who helped me get to this point as it has not been an easy path.  I am incredibly thankful that my cancer has not grown as of the last scan I had and hopeful that January's scan will show the same results.  I am thankful that I am comfortable enough with myself and that I love myself enough to take care of me, that I was strong enough to be able to remove myself from a relationship that at first I thought was the best ever, but only ended up being one of the worst ever.  I am thankful that even though my last relationship was riddled with problems and dotted with disappointments that I can still find the lesson in it and not carry the negativity around with me letting it cloud my expectations or desires of the next one in my life.  I am so incredibly thankful that I find enough value in myself to love myself, be good to myself, treat my body and my soul right and not to blame myself for what is not "right" in my life but to  focus on all that is right with the world.  I am thankful to be able to share my experience with others and to be able to help in any small way I can.  I am thankful to be alive and still functioning even after such a grim prognosis no so long ago.  I am so happy to have my father living closer to me and that my relationships with my mom and dad are so much better, with more feelings, forgiveness, understanding and love than they have ever been before (thanks cancer).  I am also very thankful that the same can be said about my friendships too.  I love all of my friends so much.  I am thankful that my first reaction is love and not anger and that I am holding no resentment inside towards anyone anymore.

There is so much to be thankful for, so much, including all of you out there reading this.  As this year comes to a close and the new one begins let us all find it in our hearts to love ourselves and feel good about who we are.  Once we find it within to love ourselves we are able to love others without limit.  We will begin treating each other with more respect and grace, we will not have room in our hearts for hatred for it will be filled with joy and gratitude instead.  Our world will reflect our attitudes and we will attract more love into our lives and who could argue with that.

It is amazing the difference one year can make.


  1. Happy Thanksgiving Laura! Glad this year is better than last and hope the trend continues.


  2. At ZhLeet we are over 251 members and we all are fighting cancer. We can be your friend too.