Each time I get news about my treatment that isn’t ideal, I find myself looking inward more. I know when I eventually share what’s happening with all of you, I’ll get nothing but resounding support. That knowledge has allowed me space to process my emotions in a way I never used to.
* * * * *
I’ve been a “go by my gut” sort of girl most of my life; it has both served me well and burned me.
Over a decade ago, while living in San Marcos, I bought a scooter off Craigslist. My online search was done in probably less than an hour. I didn’t have a motorcycle license, but I knew a scooter didn’t require knowledge of a manual gear box and if it was under a certain CC amount, you didn’t actually have to have a motorcycle license, so how hard could it be? With that in mind, off I went to the address in Carlsbad, and with few questions and no test drive, I handed the previous scooter owner a check for $1,500 and tentatively make my way out of the complex.
I immediately realized I was in over my head and should NOT be on any sort of road until I got myself situated. And by situated, I mean “had basic control” of the scooter.
I quickly pulled into a nearby hotel parking lot and drove around in circles, practicing turning in each direction, braking, and accelerating. After I felt confident enough to complete the 15-mile journey to my condo, I reemerged on the road and prayed I wouldn’t get pulled over. (One of the many questions I didn’t ask included getting clarification around the fact that said scooter was not, in fact, road legal until I brought it to the DMV.)
I had a shit-eating grin the whole time. Sure, I was completely exposed and hyper-aware of my fragility in the automotive world, but there’s just something about the wind in your face and being able to literally smell the world around you. On a scooter you are part of the environment; in a car, you’re simply passing through it.
I eventually did get a motorcycle license, and on the day I drove the scooter to work for the first time, it wouldn’t start when it was time to leave.
I called the previous owner, who offered some help by giving me a battery starter he had for the scooter (note to self: still no red flags, Jessica? Really??) and then ignored the rest of my calls.
The scooter ultimately ended up in the back of my truck and transported to a boyfriend’s house, where it remained until well past the break-up. I eventually sent the pink slip just to be rid of them both.
Clearly, that gut move burned me. But what comes back to me just as sharply as the cringe at my impulsive behavior, is that feeling I had the one day I drove it, when my smile was ear to ear racing into the wind.
* * * * *
Last week I got news that my CA-125 had risen yet again, and with my platelet levels too low to proceed with chemo, I instead had a CT scan to see what (if anything) was going on.
To quote my husband, quoting Tom Petty, “The waiting is the hardest part.”
I spent the waiting time both examining what I was feeling and considering all the possible outcomes. The only gut reaction I acted upon had been to make an appointment with my therapist for as soon as possible (which I did, and have done, and will do again in 2 weeks, praise mental health providers). The other gut reactions? They got their due, some more than others, but mostly, I just sat with what I was feeling and worked on being okay with it.
I was, and still am, afraid.
Even with the exceptional results I received yesterday.
My CT is clear — to the point that my doctor says I’m “pretty much in remission.” Chemo is done. We’re moving to a PARP inhibitor in the coming weeks.
I’ve heard these words before. And and such, I accept them with tenuous hope. These days, my gut — my intuition — isn’t as quick to say “I know the answer,” and that’s probably the best thing for me to learn yet.
* * * * *
A small but vital observation I’ve made lately in my life is that the feeling of certainty brings me nothing but unhappiness, whereas curiosity (the opposite of certainty) makes me soften into a sense of deep peace.
When I convince myself that I am certain that I KNOW how something is going to turn out, or who somebody is, or what my problems and neuroses are…I suffer. I get rigid, and I suffer. When I remember that I don’t know anything (not even who I am, or who YOU are, or what the next moment will bring) I can relax. I relax, because I get interested.
You would think it would be the opposite — that certainty, which we all seem to seek and crave with a near desperate urgency — would bring peace. But it doesn’t. Not for me. Certainty makes my mind and my world and my body contract. Certainty narrows the aperture through which I see myself, you, the future, and even the past.
Curiosity — the open-hearted courage to say “Hmmm….I don’t know, actually, but let’s see. Let’s find out. Could be anything, really. This could turn out in any number of ways. This person could surprise me. I could surprise me. Tomorrow could surprise me. I can’t say for sure that I know what even happened back then. Let’s see what is revealed. I have no idea.”
There. Peace. Instantly.