Confessions of a Single Mom with Cancer Entry # 14

I would consider myself a confident person but what I’ve realized now since cancer is:

14. I really wasn’t very nice to myself.

This is very different from taking care of myself and being good to myself. This is actually about the voices in my head. 

One of the best song lyrics ever written is from Pink’s Perfect. It says, “Change the voices in your head. Make them like you instead”. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. I remember vividly a time when most mornings I’d get up and get ready and I’d actually send myself out the door after looking in the mirror and saying, “You’ve seen better days.” No joke. And I didn’t think it was cruel, I just thought it was fact. 

The amount of critiquing of my looks, my hair, my weight, my teeth was out of control. And what’s funny is I held myself to a higher standard than anyone else. Not that I expected or considered myself prettier than anyone else but that the minute I saw one of my girlfriends tearing themselves down, I’d immediately jump in to reassure them and lift them up because I knew they were wrong. They were beautiful, inside AND out and I could hear and see what the voices in their heads were doing to them without any doubt. But I couldn’t see it in myself. 

Now don’t get me wrong I had a healthy self confidence. I wasn’t walking around thinking I was unattractive or ugly. But even in that I was much more focused on my faults. 

Right before I was diagnosed with cancer, I got my teeth cleaned and the dentist was telling me that I was an aggressive brusher.  The main concern with this is that your gums start to recede and as you get older, you’ll get that long toothed look. I was terrified. I told my sister cause I was sure she was probably an aggressive brusher too. We had a serious discussion about how to change this habit because God forbid we have long teeth when we’re old. 

And then I get diagnosed with cancer and I realize I’ll just be happy TO BE OLD! I’d be happy to be old – fat, with long teeth, with too many moles, with crazy hair, all of it! 

I guess I was tearing apart the little things because they seemed important and core to who I was before all of this, but I know now that they aren’t. 

40 pounds heavier, bald, no eyebrows- I’m still me and I’m loved by a lot of wonderful people, who would be really mad at anyone who talked to me like I sometimes talked to me in my head.

So I’ve changed the voices in my head. I don’t know they ALWAYS like me but they are much nicer to me these days. 


Confessions of a Single Mom with Cancer Entry #13

I have been single for what feels like a very long time. I’m actually really good at being single. I have a full life with work and wonderful friends. I don’t feel lonely because my oldest daughter is always with me. But I have to admit,

13. Having cancer single sucks.

Before the cancer, I have to admit I was really quite settled with being single. I don’t date much and I’ve stopped trying to figure out why. I’m comfortable with my life and honestly dating really wasn’t much fun. Dating takes me away from my kids and friends who I already know I enjoy spending my time with.

What I realized during this cancer deal, is that it’s really more about having someone who is there for you without you even having to ask or make arrangements for them to be. That someone who has to drop everything for you and is there to share all of the ups and downs of this experience. I read stories of women whose husbands went to every appointment with them. That’s when I get envious. I remember one time when I had asked a friend to drive me to an appointment because I’d be under light anesthesia and wasn’t supposed to drive home. Everything was set but then an emergency came up at work and my friend couldn’t get away. Did he feel terrible? Yes. Was I able to find another ride? Yes. But that’s when it really hit me. With your husband, the only emergency that matters when you have cancer is YOU having cancer!

I know for some people, even though they are married, their spouse didn’t drop everything for them. I believe that would probably suck more than doing it single. But I’ve been married and divorced. When I say I’d rather not have had to face this single, I’m not implying that I want just any random man by my side. I have made jokes that if you get diagnosed with cancer and you are SINGLE with no sisters, get on immediately, find someone and get married, but I’m kidding. I do realize it needs to be the right someone.

But that’s just it. Finding the right someone may take a little work. As comfortable as I am being single, I don’t put any energy into NOT being single. I purposely don’t make eye contact sometimes with men in public settings. I don’t seek single girlfriends who may want to go out to places where there might actually be single men. I don’t remind people who say they actually have someone they want to introduce me to to DO IT. I was almost glad I had a full year pass during cancer to not have to try to get a date or do anything to change my single status because I haven’t had much success.

I know now, that I actually want to try, need to try. I want to go out on some dates and I’m willing to accept the fact that many of them will go no where. But it’s time for me to realize that it’s just a part of the process. Is it harder at 42 than 22? Yes. But I should consider it an opportunity. An opportunity to find my someone who has to drop everything.

When I was younger, dating had a different purpose. I was looking for – a good husband, good dad, someone to grow with. I still am looking for those things in a person. But now, I want a best friend – someone who can make me laugh, be there when I cry, talk with me for hours or sit in comfortable silence. He will never replace my girlfriends or my sisters and sometimes I’ll still prefer them in certain situations over him. But he will be there, whether I called him, asked him to or not. That’s what I needed. That’s what I want.

I don’t believe in the Disney fairy tale. I don’t think any of us really do, but a girl can dream, right. I do believe that I have a part in this and that it’s time to do my part. So I’m going to try harder not to be single. I’m going to start making eye contact. Asking friends to set me up. Flirt a little. It definitely can’t hurt. It almost sounds like fun. Almost.