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Buyer’s Remorse

January 24, 2013

I have some sort of weird survivor’s guilt. Or buyer’s remorse. Or Wanderlust. I am not sure. Here is what I’m talking about: I am increasingly unsatisfied with almost all of the daily parts of my life. I spent almost the whole of last year trying really hard to be alive for this year and now that I am immersed back into my routine, it is incredibly daily. And a little unsettling.

I have read in a few different places about what it means to come out the other side of cancer and how some people respond. That story always goes something like “I was so happy to be alive, I just appreciated everything”. Everyone in the story is more grateful, more intentional, more observant, more spriritual. More everything good, less everything bad.

I still think about cancer everyday. I sometimes think about it in terms of a recovery program. I have been clean for 2 months, 14 days and twelve hours. But I still have some very visible reminders that while I might be well past the half way point, I am not out of the woods, yet. I have eleven new scars that are still very bright pink and eye catching. I have less than half of my original hair volume and am still losing more daily. I still have more frequent doctor’s visits than I would like and still get fairly frequent emails and messages from my research nurse. It is difficult NOT to think about cancer everyday with so many reminders from so many different sources. It is impossible to shut them all out. I am getting okay with the Cancer. The more I am reminded of it, the more practiced I become at controlling my thoughts and responses to the thoughts.

Here is what I really had not read about or prepared myself to encounter—there is some sort of something that I am loathe to title because nothing really describes it well feeling that I have that makes those daily chores, those everyday events sometimes almost unbearable. The driving the kids to daycare and getting myself to work—surely there is a better way to spend my time. The going to the grocery and buying food for my family seems, well, almost surreal. Not in the sense that “I didn’t know if I would ever be able to do this again” sort of awe but an almost sense of “Is this It?” Is this what I worked so hard to achieve? Bananas, yogurt and frozen chicken nuggets?

Seems a little haughty, doesn’t it? Doesn’t feel at all more everything good and less everything bad. When I read or watch things about having survived cancer or some other life threatening event, the survivor always seems to have this Uber-zen like outlook on the world where they appreciate, almost relish, every moment in their lives. They take on a heightened sense of stop and smell the roses. They have a knowing smile and the patience of Mother Teresa. I think I expected to come out of this with the attitude that everything is wonderful. That it is enough to just be alive. That everything was going to have new significance. That I would somehow appreciate the little things that used to make me crazy. That I would be CHANGED! I gotta tell you—I am either several standard deviations away from the norm or somebody ain’t telling the whole truth.

The facts is, I am still me. I still get bored by baseball. I still don’t like to wash dishes. I still have a hard time keeping the (fill in the blank) cleaned, stocked, on time, all in one piece. I am surviving cancer but I am still me.

I guess I have to get back to working on me. Just a little.

Have you had any revelations this week?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 24, 2013 9:04 pm

    I love your honesty. Love it. And even though I’ve never had cancer, it makes perfect sense.

    • January 24, 2013 9:15 pm

      Thanks, Michelle. Sometimes I write something just to feel supported and I am never disappointed.

  2. grace permalink
    January 25, 2013 4:29 am

    Mareeka, I too, am a cancer survivor. I just pulled a journal from sometime relatively soon after I finished radiation. It says”Today has not been a good day. (Daughter) was very angry with me because I didn’t fall into her unplanned plan. ………Police questioned (Son) about a smaller boy who says he was threatened with a BB gun. As is turns out, it wasn’t (Son). I try so hard not to be angry that my chest gets tight and I can’t breathe. I really wonder if cancer is natures expression of the death wish. It would mean I wouldn’t have to reject anyone. I could just quietly slip away. Take heart, love. I gets better. I love you. Your Aunt.

    • January 25, 2013 12:54 pm

      Grace, thank you for sharing. It isn’t easy figuring out what is appropriate, I hate to use the word normal, in all of this when so many of the examples that are held up for us as “survivors” are back lit, soft focus, cleaned up versions of life.

      I will not pitch a tent here, I just don’t know that I will progress all the way to sainthood.

      Either way, I will be spending some more quality time with my shrink!

      I love you and so appreciate your openness about your own journey.

  3. Meredith Bunting permalink
    January 25, 2013 11:08 am

    Seems to me in the middle of your life, you’ve been called to Life. While you have changed, the people, schedules, routines, and appetites around you have not. In fact they were chugging along steadily the whole time you were off fighting to get back on track. You still have to serve the yogurt, heat the chicken nuggets, fold the laundry, and fill the car with gas. Get it done as you are called; get done also this healing business which is still in process. Then Run! Don’t walk to the Thing, whatever it is, that you were made to live for. You did not purchase something you should not regret – Something purchased you, and you will feel edgy, empty, and uneasy until you are filled up with Purpose! Keep shopping – you will find it. In fact, I believe you are wearing part of it now! Keep writing ….!

    • January 25, 2013 12:57 pm

      Meredith, as I replied to Michelle, sometimes I put these things out there just so I can feel supported.

      These are words that I know but still need to be told. Sometimes, again and again and again.

      Thank you!

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