“We are all butterflies. Earth is our chrysalis.” LeeAnn Taylor
Have you ever realized you are not the person you expected to be. I am lying here wide awake writing this realizing that I am now someone I don’t really know. I used to be strong or at least I thought I was. Now I feel that in so many ways I’m much less capable than I used to be. I blame myself because I liked being taken care of. I don’t make vacation plans or the reservations; Jim does. I don’t drive when we’re traveling; Jim wants to. I don’t pay bills; Jim manages that. Now recently he suggested I try a different OBGYN because we travel to Denver for all of my other doctor appointments and often I have to get a second opinion about tests anyway because of my cancer history. This always means another office visit and additional out of pocket cost and another insurance payment.
It wasn’t until we headed to Denver for my new OBGYN appointment that I began to get irritated. I wondered why I had agreed to leave the comfort of my female doc for that of not only someone new but a man on top of it. I loved having a female to talk to about the variety of issues that age brings with it regarding our internal function, our hormones, our thyroid, our weight, our libido and who knows what else. I have relied on this particular doctor repeatedly since my cancer diagnosis and now I was leaving her on the request of my husband. This is the same guy who hasn’t seen a doctor for at least eight years except to have a colonoscopy the year he turned 60. Yet he wants me to change doctors because he doesn’t like that it has cost some extra money out of pocket because she has been very conscientious about not overlooking any possible issues due to the Tamoxifen and Letrozole prescriptions I have had take, not to mention the chemo and radiation fall out.
So lying in bed trying to fall asleep, I began to seethe as he drifted to sleep next to me. Now, because I know myself, I realized if I didn’t get this out of my head and onto paper, I would never get to sleep. I pounded on my computer keys venting my frustration but also coming to some realizations. I may be angry at Jim in the moment but it is really me that I am angry at. Who forced me not to pay the bills, or drive on trips, or organize the vacations. Not Jim. ME! I liked not worrying about the finances. I loved having the time to read and write and fall asleep while we traveled by car. I am relieved not to have to mess with all the accommodations, flights, and coordinating that comes with planning a vacation. For many years it felt like I was pampered. So what happened? Now it makes me feel emasculated. Can women even be emasculated? I feel incompetent. I lack confidence. I imagine Jim sees me as inadequate. How did it change from feeling good to feeling bad? Am I really a different person than I used to be or is it perspective?
As I write and think through my life, I realize it’s probably a bit of both. Life delivers many challenges and even though we survive them, we also live with their memories. Some events sap confidence while at the same time delivering pride for enduring the heat. With each event we gain and lose some portion of ourselves. Self worth ties to all aspects of self and ebbs and flows. I suppose aging adds to that sense of self. So, what at one time may have felt good now draws ire because we no longer are moving toward becoming but rather settling into having been. In other words we are on the other side of adulthood. I think what this means is I need to talk to Jim, and to myself to find my new equilibrium. I need to accept and discover my own pride and power again and greet some of the shifts therein. I may not be the person I expected but I may actually be more than I envisioned.
As an addendum, I really liked the new OBGYN. It wasn’t horrible and he is connected to my Oncologist so they have a good working relationship. Whether I’ll go back to him or back to my other doctor is something I’ll have to wrestle with but for now the angst is gone and either way I have a good doctor to rely on.