Learning to Love Again
May 12, 2015
By: Jennifer Dornbush
You think you have your life all figured out, until one day, something you didn’t choose changes it. My cancer diagnosis did just that!
Ever since September 21, 2011, I have been questioning “Why me?” “What was the point?” I was terrified of dying. I wasn’t finished living yet. I had plans. Hell, I had a friend’s wedding to go to just one week after I was hospitalized, which of course I was not able to attend. What was I to do with this cancer? I guess I was in denial and I didn’t really have time to sort all of it out. So, I just went with it: “rolled with the punches,” as they say.
There is nothing easy about cancer, with chemotherapy, radiation, transplants and surgeries… the first three of which I had the pleasure of experiencing. Oh, and not to forget all of the chemically created drugs we inhale. But I survived it. I made it. So now I am back to “Why me?” What is the purpose of all of this? If I didn’t have the choice but to have cancer, then why didn’t I die from it? Was/is there some hidden message, and if so why can’t someone just tell me what it is already, for heaven’s sake? I would love to know.
I thought that I was invincible, that I was living a good life. Granted, I made some mistakes along the way, but I was doing just fine. Some people say that cancer is an eye opener – a sign to change your ways. I like to think of it like an Etch-o-Sketch: you draw a picture, then somehow it gets all shaken up and it’s wiped clean! Everything you invested in is gone! There’s no hitting the “save” button. But on the flip side, you now have a chance to redraw, to be creative again!
If I think back to my original “picture,” sure, things were great, but some things were awful too. And of course I would love to carry over or redraw some of the old things into this new drawing, but that is just not possible, what is gone is gone.
With much reflection, I have learned that what was really missing from the original drawing was love: love for where I am in this incredible world and love for myself.
I truly believe that cancer stripped me down to the bone and left me vulnerable and exposed. In this state I now must re-explore and find ways to love myself as I am. I need to re-identify with who I am, what I am, and where I came from.
I am currently in the process of asking myself some raw questions to help guide me, questions like:
1. What makes me smile inside and out?
2. What “fuels” me?
3. Fear of failure and costs aside, what would I like to do with my life?
There is no time like the present to start fresh. I heard once before that your past does not predict your future; your present creates it. So if I begin to ask and really focus on these questions, I am hoping that I will become more in tune with just me, and be free of judgement of and criticism for myself.
I am still very curious about this whole “Why me?” question, and now I am on quest to figure out my life’s purpose. To begin such an adventure, I believe it only best to know who I really am.