FOUR DAYS LEFT (part 1).

My rules and regulations are so bizarre. Words are pouring out of me. I can’t stop thinking about new entries, new forms of writings for this countdown as my days go on, but because I have set myself up in the confines of a 10, 9, 8 etc countdown, I boxed my silly self into waiting until FOUR DAYS LEFT to write the next piece. Then I realized that I can do whatever I want. It is my writing; it is my story; I am writing this for me; I have fucking cancer, it is a free pass to break all rules especially ridiculous I don’t know where the hell these crazy fucking rules even come from. But as you can see, the rule of numbering in some sequence must continue so this is how I reconciled my rule.

I create a lot of self imposed rules and regulations for myself. These rules are different then discipline. Discipline is about going to the gym, doing all my paperwork on a Monday, grocery shopping on a Friday and changing my sheets on a Tuesday. Rules and Regs are these weird laws I make in my head that are almost impossible to keep, then I break them, which I always do, and then beat myself up for breaking them. It is completely fucked up.

For example, I decided to do a thirty-day health routine before my surgery. I am relatively healthy anyway, pretty consistent with my workouts, pretty good at eating great food that nourishes me. I have done this thirty- day program several times and it makes me feel like a pure power house, physically AND mentally. My thought was that it would get me ready for ZERO DAYS LEFT. Lean mean fighting machine. This program that I love is called Whole 30 and it has seriously changed my life. However what I didn’t take into consideration is that besides Breast Cancer Christmas, there is Breast Cancer let me take you out to dinner or lunch or breakfast before your surgery. Or the combination that my friend, Michelle, came up with Sunday of food drop off as breast cancer gift before surgery. The message on the envelope read as follows:

“Enjoy a PVD Doughnut, Screw cancer, exclamation point! exclamation point!”

How did she know that I have been driving by there on my “let me take you to dinner before surgery trips” and fantasizing about stopping in and trying one of these crazy creative sugar piles. (As you may have guessed, bread, sugar, flour, chocolate, icing, dairy and rice crispy treats are not on the Whole 30 food plan, which by the way made up the entire doughnut and by the way I don’t even eat doughnuts when I am eating sugar which is not usually because sugar causes cancer, right?) The no sugar rule is also a no alcohol rule. For me alcohol is wine. I stopped drinking hard alcohol (discipline) over 12 years ago when I began noticing an abundance of grey goose vodka bottles in the recycling bin. I know my Alanon friends reading this out there are likely thinking that this is a typical rationalization for continuing to indulge in alcohol despite the layers of alcoholism in my family, but fuck cancer, (and alcoholism), right?

Anyway in the Whole 30, no alcohol is allowed for 30 days and I have no problem with this. As I write this I wonder why I choose to do Whole 30 plans when I am about to embark on something super stressful. The first one I did was preparing for my last visit to my mother with my ex husband and my son while we were looking at colleges. I’m guessing that would be considered a stressful situation as previously written about in Box of Wine and Letter to Ann. But as anyone reading this may be questioning the timing, the physical health aspect of taking this on is secondary to the mental health. Whole 30 gets my brain in pure power and this is why I choose these times.

So when the doughnut landed on my front porch with a text from Michelle to let me know “I left something on your front porch,” a decision had to be made. For women out there who don’t struggle with self imposed rules and regulations, there is no decision to eat or not to eat, I can hear you screaming, “just eat the fucking doughnut already!” But for me, this decision means I am breaking the Whole 30. There is no veering off. One false move and you start from Day one again and day one is impossible since there are only three days left to ZERO DAYS LEFT. I call these types of conversations I have with myself spinny head. I heard someone at Alanon meeting once call it washing machine head. I love that one. What I neglected to mention is that I have already gone off the Whole 30 last Wednesday when I was headed to Alforno, one of my most favorite special occasion restaurants to go to in RI, you know when I passed the PVD Donut mecca as previously stated? I mean what normal person could possibly go to Al Forno and not drink a glass of gorgeous Chianti, (or have a bite of at least ten of the homemade cookies from the warmed cookie plate that like all desserts at Al Forno must be ordered with dinner, I wasn’t going to mention that part, but I am baring my soul here).

My problem or a better kinder word, challenge, is that it is really difficult for me to just have the one Wednesday night “treat.” I can’t stand that fucking word, just like I don’t like the word, “cheat” when it comes to food and diets (that word too) because then the floodgates open and I start using language like, “what the fuck, I have fucking cancer, drink wine, eat chocolate, none of it makes a frickin difference!” And voila, three days later, four glasses of wine later, a PVD donut later, it is FOUR DAYS LEFT and my rules and regs have been challenged by none other than the queen of rule breaking herself.

Oh well, life is not perfect. I am not perfect. Sometimes the cape blows wildly in the wind, sometimes it needs a little stitching to repair it’s fringe, sometimes it has been through a hurricane and washed up on shore five days later, tired, ripped apart and torn and sometimes it needs to be taken of, stripped off, thrown on the floor and stamped on. The cape metaphor represents the expectations I have of myself. The expectations create the rules and regs. The thing is that the rules and regs are mine and mine alone. I don’t even have to make them anymore if I don’t want to. As I write this, that line makes me nervous, I actually start to feel a bit anxious because for some reason those hard imposed rules create a structure and a boundary for me and create a focus that at times as served me really well, but often creates feelings of shame and failure. That is the part that does not serve me or anyone well.

I am 52 years old. Will there ever be a time where I give myself a break? Where I actually pat my own self on the back like I do with every woman I come into contact with, like I do with my beautiful son, my friends, my family? I am hard on myself because I was raised with expectations that are hard to meet, but I don’t want to blame Ann for everything, there were many things she did intentionally and unintentionally that were divine gifts and lessons as I navigated mostly on my own at about 15. I know the rules and regs come from those seeds that were planted by a woman who was unaware of her own possibilities and instead of facing the fears head on, she ran away with the first man she met who was marrying age thinking this would be her cape not realizing she had her own. All she had to do was just pull it out of the trunk and put it on, but she didn’t even know it was there or that there was a trunk waiting for her. Instead, she unknowingly left it for me to find on my own and I did. It took me a while, it took me on a treasure hunt to find the trunk. Even when I found the trunk, I had to figure out the combination of the lock that was on the trunk. Even when I found the combination of the lock that was on the trunk, I had to discover that I could open it and allow what was inside to be my gift. I often walked away from it almost afraid of my own power waiting there. When I finally gave myself permission and realized that there was a kickass magic cape inside, this is when my life really began.

I sometimes wish I could give it back to her so it could work its magic on her sadness, but I don’t think she still even considers it a possibility for herself, I actually don’t even think she realized that there ever was a trunk. So I keep it knowing that some day I will get to pass it along to a granddaughter and with all this cancer in my family, this for sure seems like a lofty goal, but a welcomed one.

My brother and me before both of us had cancer and when I was just learning that there was a trunk I to be found.

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