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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

PodLife




Matt and I had the pleasure of being interviewed on our first ever podcast: The Backgrounder, with Paul Brubaker. Listen to find out Matt's secret to staying married post-cancer.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

On walking round and round


It was two years to the day since I'd been told I had breast cancer. I stood just outside the mouth of the World Trade Center PATH station with a view of what felt like the entire island of Manhattan. I looped my thumbs into the straps of my backpack and started walking north. This, I’d decided, was how I’d fix myself. I would walk the island of Manhattan and prove that I was strong again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What's a girl with cancer allowed to be?



So I've been quiet these few weeks. It's been something of an odd October -- things feel hushed, regarding both pinkwashing and my own anxiety. (Though we're not through October yet, so there's still time for a panic attack...or five.) Mostly I've been reflecting on where I am now. And the answer is, I have no idea.

I had an experience recently that was deeply troubling, but also instructive. I was in something of a focus group, in which participants were asked to describe cancer patients in a single adjective. (I was the only patient in the room, but certainly not the only person who had met someone with cancer.) The answers were collected and combined into a word cloud, and projected onto a screen. When I saw the product of the exercise, my jaw dropped.

Up on the screen, bright and large, was the word "Desperate."

Desperate, as in hopeless. Desperate, as in nothing to lose, as in not being ruled by rational thought. It's an antiquated idea, and only a few steps removed from doctors who wouldn't tell patients when they had cancer, for fear that simply couldn't handle it. Patients have worked hard over many decades to make sure their voices are heard and respected in the conversation; this felt like a punt back to 1960.

I tried to challenge it. I was upset, and all could say was "No," not right, rethink this, all of you. Before I had a chance to really collect myself and explain why this picture of patients was not okay, others in the room leapt to defend it, saying that, surely, were they in that position, they would feel desperate.

Not: "Patient in the room, tell us how you feel," but "be quiet, I know what I'm talking about." I am sitting there telling them that was not my experience, nor one I have often come across in my years as a cancerado. The people in the room were clinging so hard to this assumption that they couldn't hear me. They also couldn't hear how personally painful that word was to me.

It wasn't the first time I'd encountered a strange push back when sharing my story with people who otherwise seemed open to hearing it.

Since being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, I've realized there are certain acceptable story arcs for us breast cancer patients -- and for me, it really comes down to two possibilities: the inspiring, and the desperate. One is lionized and lauded in the media, the other is hidden and feared. And when you don't fit into one of those categories, people have a hard time with it.

During my treatment in 2012, I took a weekly photograph. When the first year was finished, I stitched the photos together into a time lapse video, which I posted on my blog. To my great surprise, the video went viral. And I felt the pull of both of these stereotypes in the time that followed.

Interviewed for articles and tv, I was often asked the same questions. But the last one was always the same: how are you now? And I felt, so heavy, the weight of their expectation, how badly they wanted me to tell them that I was cured. They wanted me in the pink tutu, they wanted me to say I was stronger than ever, that cancer turned out to be a gift (excuse me while I throw up). And when I didn't say that, how palpable the disappointment was. 

And the flip side -- I read in the comments on my video that because I hadn't lost a lot of weight during chemotherapy, I was "probably faking." Also that I was an attention whore. Because I didn't fit sufficiently into the model of the desperate cancer patient. Because the reality of my experience challenged their assumption so much, they were so uncomfortable, they had to lash out.

It strikes me now how rarely I haven been asked, "what was it like?"

I will tell you how it was: hard. Shitty. But worst of all it was lonely. Informed only by assumptions and fear, many non-cancer friends drifted away. This experience is unfortunately quite common. Perhaps afraid of encountering a "desperate" patient, many avoid their friend or family member completely. (Note to readers: don't be that guy. That guy sucks.) Remarks about staying positive and being grateful feel like admonishments.



But when it's you, which one of those story arcs would you rather have? Given only two models for survivorship, it's hard to begrudge those who choose the pink door.

Since my first intimate experience with cancer when Matt was diagnosed in 2008, I've met hundreds of people affected by the disease. They are all ages, many types of cancer, and with different prognoses. And I wouldn't call one of them desperate.



Sunday, October 4, 2015

Historical bad-assery

Damn girl. Damn.
Frances Burney underwent a mastectomy in 1811. I recently picked up her novel Evelina (after, um, I was supposed to read it in graduate school like 4 years ago). I've since ordered a collection of her letters, in which she describes the surgery and her recovery. More to come on that, but just felt like saying sheeeeeeiiiiit. Fanny's a toughy. Here she is:

Gives zero fucks.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The gift that keeps on giving


Eye doctor today, for a routine check up. I reluctantly submitted to the pupil dilation -- last time I did it was at the beginning of chemo, and I wound up watching reruns of Glee while wearing sunglasses all night. (Erm, it's possible something else was going on there too.) So I took the stinging drops, and the optometrist shined her orange light in all the corners of my eye. 

When she finished, she asked if I'd ever been prescribed steroids. I told her that I'd done chemo, and had a dose a prednisone every week for 12 weeks.

"That explains it," she said. "You have some small cataracts, especially in your left eye, that can be caused by high doses of steroids."

Wait, what.


There's nothing to do, because it's not that bad. Just a little harder to see at night, just always seems like my glasses are dirty. Those made sense when she told me about the cataracts. I can have surgery that will fix them one day, if I want.

And I'm lucky it's not worse, I'm lucky I haven't lost my vision completely. I'm lucky the prednisone was there to prevent a life-threatening allergic reaction to the taxol. I'm lucky I'm alive.

But still. I'm 31 years old and have cataracts.



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

More Required Reading

From Deep Lane, by Mark Doty.


what you can't restore, inscribe.
what you can't restore, inscribe.
what you can't restore, inscribe.

Someone assign me to write that 50 times on the blackboard, please.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Status: It's Complicated

This weekend, the New York Times posted this fascinating story on The New Old Age blog.

The piece, titled "A Grief So Deep It Won't Die," by Paula Span, deals with the concept of "complicated grief," a state characterized by years of sadness after a loss, and was recently given something of a footnote in the latest DSM.

It struck me this week, a difficult one on the heels of several other difficult ones. I had a check up with my oncologist, and since I rated my distress on the distress-thermometer as a 6, that meant we had to talk about it. She asked if I wanted to see the hospital psychiatrist again.



"I'm not depressed," I said to her. "I'm sad."

"Sadness is depression," she said.

It was an off-the-cuff remark, I know she doesn't truly equate sadness with depression, but it was so illustrative of the cancer patient experience. The whole, "You're not over it yet? There's something wrong with you" - thing. But it's also, "Hey, you've been through something really shitty, and I want to protect you from that the only way I know how." But it's already happened. It always will have happened.

She wants to help -- she doesn't want me to be sad -- but the relief isn't one that I want. After a rough few months on Effexor last fall, I'm really not eager to go on an antidepressant again.

Nearly seven years ago, I cared for Matt through a life-threatening illness, tending his surgical wounds, watched deeply poisonous substances drip into his blood, sat in the waiting room while he was shot with radiation beams. In the last three years, that same series of things happened to me.

Ad so it feels decidedly unlike a disorder for me to cry, feel an ache, to need time alone to lick those many wounds. Even though it's three years later.

(I know that's a slippery slope, and that depression does know how to cloak itself in the "things are terrible, it's a lie to feel anything other than misery." I know, and I am watching.)

But I have so often felt frustrated how little others will let me be sad.

Example: We put in an offer on a perfectly imperfect little house in the mountains a few weeks ago. I moved in in my mind the moment I saw it. I imagined planting wisteria (and once you mentally plant wisteria it's all over). There turned out to be multiple bids, and though ours was the highest, we still didn't get it.

And when I expressed disappointment, I was repeatedly hushed and clucked at: "That wasn't the right one," and "The house you're meant to have is out there." Chin up, and all that. Please, I wanted to say. Just let me feel what I'm feeling. Just let me.

I'm ashamed it admit that to avoid this in daily life I hide behind "I'm fine." To avoid my feelings being negated by others, I negate them myself. That same old song and dance.

Matt keeps trying to buy me ice cream and mango juice. Pancho licks my face when I cry. But know that I have to feel it all.* Not because pain is somehow instructive or "makes you stronger," (ugh) or a better person. Pain does none of those things. I have to feel it because it's fucking true.


And all of that is not to say leave me alone. It's the opposite in fact. It's, I need you now. Let's have a hug or smile or just hold me in your heart with good intention. Let's have an I hear you girl. Let's all talk to someone. Someones. Let's all get the help we need. Let's share all our complicated grief.

I think all grief is complicated, by the way.



*But only if it is (really) real. Sadness can become depression. I'm lucky, in that I generally know by the quality of my thoughts what sort they are. When I feel the little beginnings of the rip tide start to tug, I take notice. Am I realy an awful, selfish person, or did I just make a mistake?

Friday, August 14, 2015

C'est moi


Here's me and Matt in a video we did about immunotherapy for the Cancer Research Institute, and The Answer to Cancer, where I'm the Online Community Manager. Please excuse how red and shiny I am. xo

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Alpha/Omega

Greetings from Rhinebeck. I'm at the Omega Institute this week, particpating in a writing workshop but getting very little writing done. 

There are lots of reasons for this but a main one is that I've been pretty deeply sad these last couple of weeks. Since my last post, exactly. The panic fog cleared and left me with raw sadness. Crying in the bathroom in work sadness. Going to bed at 7:30 sadness. Nausea-inducing sadness. About nothing and about everything.

Grieving, mourning. This was posed to me by both my regular therapist, and the mind-body person I saw here at Omega. 

During meditation yesterday, I felt a hot, searing pain my left chest. It was specific and precise, a pain I have not felt in three years. It was what I felt post-mastectomy. (PS it was three years since my surgery on Sunday.)

I feel angry about this sadness. I want this to be over. It's what others expect, now that I look normal and only go to the doctor a few times a year rather than every other day, but also I am exhausted.

The mind-body therapist I saw today suggested that this m ay be happening now because it's safe to finally feel this. That perhaps I have been waiting.

Funny about that pain yesterday. I remember feeling afraid, when a week or so after the mastectomy the most intense pain began to ebb. I clung to it. Because that pain could fill up my mind so I didn't have to think about anything else but feeling it, managing it. I could absorb myself in how long it had been since my last painkiller. But once it started to leave me, I knew something else would rush into the void, and it wouldn't be so easily dispatched with opioids and muscle relaxants.

And so here we are. I know there is no timeline for this, no magic expiration date for trauma. But what, exactly, the fuck am I supposed to do now? Take a month off work because I had cancer three years ago? How do I sit with something that will never be okay?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Broken Brain


So I was on line for a movie tonight, and realized I was tachycardic. (Yes, I have a heart-rate monitor app on my phone. Doesn't everyone?) I felt faint and weird when I arrived at the mall (90+ degree days in Jersey = mall + movies). I ate an enormous meal in the food court, guzzled water, but nothing could stop that fuzzy head/chest thing, which was likely due to: 1) surprise pregnancy 2) rare encephalitis I'd just been reading about or 3) ???. And then I realized I was having a full blown panic attack, and I didn't even know it.

Me: Oh anxiety, you old so and so. You can still trick me, after all these years. How do you keep it fresh?
Anxiety: I am you, therefore I know all.

Anxiety's been a real bitch lately. I don't just mean the panic attacks at the doctor's office, or the woozy feeling I get when I smell alcohol wipes outside a hospital setting (but not inside, oddly). No, this A-level fuckery.

So, origin story. Pre-cancer, I was in Rome, then Paris, then Rome again, writing and eating for six weeks. I worked on a new novel, and decided to apply for a Fulbright. I wanted to travel, but with my family this time. I came home, snuggled with Matt and Pancho, and went to Maine to install an art exhibit I had been working on for months. It looked great! Everyone was excited for the opening. I was going to get to meet Martha Stewart at the cocktail party! Ahhh!

And then, and then. The spot of blood, the occult test (less fun than it sounds), the ultrasound, the appointment with the breast surgeon. She said, probably just a little papilloma, but let's do a mammogram to be sure. I had to miss Martha for the appointment, but I still made it to the opening and see everyone's reactions to the show. We traveled around Maine a bit, and I snapped this photo with the boy in Ogunquit.

And then came home, and had said mammogram. Had said mammograms -- dozens of images ended up being taken that day. The specks spattered across, like someone had merely sneezed on the film, those were troubling. So biopsy, let's do it now. Hmm. Cell phone number of the radiologist. Call if you have questions. I didn't know what meant. I went out into the darkest hardest rain I've ever seen, and even though it was a summer storm, it was cold, and I was soaked, and there were no cabs, and I didn't go back to work and just went home.

The next photo in my library is this, that Matt took after I came out of mt first of many surgeries. Double mastectomy. And then all the rest.

Suffice it to say, I was happy up to the moment everything came down. Very happy -- the happiest I'd been in my adult life. So now my brain knows, or has decided, that when I am happy that means destruction looms. And so I am not happy, I am scared. But then again, I am not happy anymore, so crisis averted, I guess.

We looked at houses upstate this weekend, and we found one that we love. It's tiny and funny and affordable. On the drive home we talked about the garden we'd plant, and the frolicking that Pancho would do and all the sleeping too. I thought about reading and listening to the rain fall and soaking in the cacophony is there only if you're quiet enough to listen.

And then as we sped closer to home I saw car wrecks in my mind. Once there I felt funny and restless, poking at a freckle (or is it a mole?) newly formed on my lip. Fussing with the new vacuum cleaner (is it already broken?) while thinking about seizures. What if a tree falls on us in the new little house?

What will be the thing that comes for me this time, I wonder? Can I predict it? Or will half the sear be the shock of it?

So pounding Ativan in the mall, listening to a meditation app before the movie starts, I try to unwind this. I can't get a real breathe, it seems, and that only aggravates my speeding heart. The lights go down, and finally I am safe because I am no longer happy.

Pancho's face is greyer now, and it will be 3 years on Thursday.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Invite


Friendlets, I'll be reading my work aloud on Sunday as part of The Eagle and the Wren reading series at BookCourt in Brooklyn. I'd love to see you there!

And now's as good a time as any, I guess, to say that I'm working on a little book. Separate from the other little book, that's now with agents whom I'm afraid to contact again in case their answer is no.

This will be an even littler book, about cancer et al. And perhaps you may be thinking, "But there are soo many cancer memoirs." (Well, I know you wouldn't think that. But someone.) And yes, there are. But there are lots of books about white dudes, and no one says anything about that, do they? There are lots of books about lots of things. And this is a book I have to write, and so I'm writing it. It may only ever see publication in the form of a hand sewn thing I keep on my shelf, but it will exist. One day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

His n Hers


Radiation exam room for a checkup, and I realized how much more efficient Matt and I could be if we shared oncology appointments. 

That it actually the type of chair he sits in when they go up his nose and down his throat with an endoscope.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sharps



The needles are past the fill line! What could happen?!

Down in DC for my vaccine booster, and remembered this story: when I was getting my second opinion at Dana Farber, Matt revealed that every time he sees a sharps container he has a weird desire to plunge his hand inside and flail it around. And we laughed until we cried.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

National Cancer Survivor's Day

"Hello, hidden pain. So strange how you resemble my old face."

This line from a poem by Matthew Siegel has been bouncing around my head for the last few weeks.

Today is National Cancer Survivor's Day.

I don't like the term 'survivor.' In fact I think I hate it. For one, it deftly ignores those who have died, silently putting them in the column of Not Enough Moxie to Win. Not Enough Positivity. Did Something Wrong.

Those who have died, 40,000 a year from breast cancer in the U.S., did nothing wrong. They did not choose the wrong doctors, they did not give up, they did not not fight hard enough. The lesson to learn from those 40,000 is not one about keeping positive or staying strong -- it's about the confluence of luck and science. Being lucky enough to qualify for/afford/be responsive to the right drugs. That's all.

So a day that recognizes my good luck within the bad makes me feel nothing but unsettled and wrong. Like escaping a shipwreck in which 1/3 of the other passengers drowned, just because I happened to be standing near a life boat.

You understand why this feels complicated.

I don't need an official reminder that I'm alive and others are not. I don't need a sanctioned day, a party at the hospital with soda in plastic cups and a jazz quartet paid for by the music therapy program, to make me feel some approved combination of feelings.

Know that I am not proud, because I did nothing different than anyone else. I do not feel strong or brave or any of the other things people say about those who've had cancer, because those things have nothing to do with the accident of still being alive, and know that today I do not wish to celebrate.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Songs to sing

At riding on Monday, I was told to pick a song. I should sing this song in my head when I'm riding to keep the pace. I should sing this song out loud in an emergency, to calm the horse and keep myself breathing.

"Mine's a James Taylor song," the instructor said, adding, "I picked it in college."

So what's it going to be? I spent the car ride home cycling through options on my phone, none of them quite right. Most too slow, others I didn't know well enough to be able to count on in an emergency.

I was tempted to pick one of Cheryl Strayed's,  El Condor Pasa.


But that song's more for walking, of course.

Two of Us is the top contender at the moment. Other suggestions?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Begin Again


The stars, the planets, the moon, all tell us things. I don't mean like whether you are thrifty or dreamy or match well with the person in your bed. They tell you direction -- where you're going, where you've been. 

"Look where you are going." 

The ground was soft dirt, loose and dry. Rocks, hoof prints. Grass spread under the fence on one edge, where a horse might like to grab some. Edges of jumps, sometimes too close. Barn cats near the fence. She told me to look where I was going, not at the ground. 

"Look with your head, your shoulders, your hips." 

So I tried to see with my whole body, creaking and cracking and panting (this didn't feel like exercise when I was ten) but it didn't happen tonight. It doesn't happen all at once, learning to see with your whole body. 

"You're trying to lead him with just your fingers. Use your whole hand. Use your arm." 

I've been trying with just the parts that don't hurt. They are few: fingers, eyes. Mind, sometimes. Restriction in anticipation of pain or breaking. 

"Whatever you do with your body, the horse will also do." 

So this is how I will move. Paired with one who mimics me. 

Driving home, headed east, the moon was low, full, and russet. It reminded me of a moon when I was small. In the car, speeding through the night, it always felt like the moon was following us. One time it inched so close it took up half the urban sky. 

Tonight, it felt closer some moments, more distant others, but the message was clear: go on.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Overheard in NY: Cancer Edition

Me, talking about my recent stress eating: I'm sad, and then I go and eat five cupcakes.

Therapist: Is eating five cupcakes necessarily a bad thing? I think it depends on the context.

Best. Therapist. Ever.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nothing to Worry About


Sometimes, I don't know how scared I am of something till it's over. Sometimes hearing that right now,  I'm okay is was makes the tears run hot.

So I had surgery Friday. Routine-ish -- more fat grafting to help heal the tissue damaged by radiation, with hopes that in a few months it will finally be ready to stretch again.

But the story goes back a bit farther. Two weeks before, I felt a telltale pressure under my skin on my left chest. I'd had a seroma (a collection of serous fluid, common post-op) there for months, and it seemed to be back. I went to see my surgeon, and he drained it in the office. We chatted about patients who have no boundaries (um, hopefully not me) while I kept my eyes carefully trained on the ceiling and not the giant needle he was using to drain pocket of fluid under my skin.

When he finished, he asked me if I'd hurt myself. I shrugged. 

"You didn't fall or anything?" There was blood in the fluid.

I remembered that I fell in February (and December and January, and probably March -- I fell around seven times this winter. Thanks Effexor!). Flat on my face. I toppled like the statue of Saddam, was how I described it later to Matt. I told my surgeon.

"That's what it is, nothing to worry about."

So when the seroma reappeared a few days later, I didn't worry. I showed my surgeon in pre-op, he said they'd address it in the O.R. I walked in, got on the table, stared at the ceiling, tried to remember to breathe and imagine the place I wish I was, and a while later I woke up and Matt was telling me the fluid in my chest had been sent for cytology. To see what it was made of. To see, I deduced, if it was not good news.

"Oh," I said, casually. Then I asked for pain meds and nausea meds, and got a bunch of fentanyl and fell back to sleep.

In the following days I spent some time with Dr. Google trying to figure out what could be happening with that fluid; mostly I found clinical studies from before I was born, saying awfully scary things, but not relevant to me. 

Side note: I feel grateful that I now have the knowledge base to separate the relevant from the not relevant. That part of my brain has become stronger than the anxious little imp in there, and that was no easy feat.

So mostly I just waited, and told no one. And today when he texted me and told me all was good, I smiled and texted back "Yay!" and he said "It made my day," I stopped smiling and cried at my desk. Because he was worried, even if only a little, and I realized how scared I'd been without knowing it. Sometimes you don't realize the narrowness of the ledge, the length of the drop, until you take three long steps back.

And you realize, again and again, that it's pure luck, and not because you're special or did anything better than anyone else, that you didn't slip, that the ledge didn't crumble, and that for a moment the air was still. It's pure fucking luck.

I know someone who didn't get that tonight. She didn't get ideal conditions, and now she's facing a whole new drop. Send her your sweetest comfort, loves.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Did somebody say "Ssuurrggeerrryyy?!?"

I'm  in the little changing room, listening to talk about running out of robes.  I'm in slipper socks, but they're XXL for some reason.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Whose Cancer Is It Anyway?

What do you call the person who holds your hand during a cancer diagnosis? 
What do you call the fiancé who picks up your medication, the friend who makes your favorite meal, the sister who changes the dressings on your surgical incisions?
Traditionally, these people are called caregivers. An odd blend of nurse, parent, therapist, cook, workhorse, and peer, caregivers play an integral role in a patient’s recovery from cancer. A caregiver can improve medication adherence, nutrition, quality of life, and more.
As part of the upcoming Ken Burns series Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies (trailer below), PBS has released a number of short videos on www.cancerfilms.org. One video features actor Ken Jeong (of The Hangover fame) speaking about his experience caring for his wife, Tran, during her treatment for breast cancer.
Read the rest here.

Friday, March 6, 2015

YSC Summit



I'm here in Houston for Young Survival Coalition's annual conference! It's going to be three days of programming dedicated to breast cancer patients under 40.

Today I have State Leader training before the whole event kicks off. Here are some of the things I'm excited about this weekened:

SUSAN LOVE. I'm a fangirl.
- Tamales! There's a famous place near where I'm staying
- Being in a room with 500 plus people who share this crazy experience
- Awesome programming -- I'm looking forward to panels on genetic risk/family history of BC, relationships post-BC and more
- There's a funeral museum near the airport. Pit stop on the way back to Jerz.

...and I'm embarrassed to admit I'm also psyched to check out the custom nipple prosthetics booth.

Things I'm less excited about
- Soda in the breakfast buffet (wtf texas?)

Check back throughout the weekend for updates!


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Circle Game




Soo, turning 31 tomorrow. 

The other night, Matt asked me, "Did you think you'd have kids by now?"

I did.

If you'd asked me in 2013 if I thought I'd be done with reconstruction by now, I would have said yes. Last April I made a plan to devote the month to feeling better about my body, with the idea that at the end of 30 days I'd have some magical perspective shift.

Truthfully, I love a deadline. It lights the fire to accomplish things. Toward the end of grad school, I figured out how to exploit this tendency of mine -- a simple, reward based system for meeting short deadlines. Write ten pages by six pm? Get a massage. Hand in a paper a week early? Buy full priced thing from Anthropologie.

But deadlines only work when you're in control of what's happening. And, shocker, once you're out of school that's basically never.

I think I've been fooled or unknowingly influenced by the spate of stunt memoirs that were popular a few years ago. The writer puts him or herself in a situation ranging from the absurd (like The Year of Living Biblically) to the disciplined (Julie & Julia) to the hedonistic (Eat, Pray, Love). I've read and enjoyed many books like this. But they create a false timeline.

A life doesn't happen in a neat story's arc. It's something I've written about before. If you are masterful, you can chip a perfect and heartbreaking story out of many years (my number one example right now is Dog Years but there any many more). But setting out to do something for one year and have enough events for a plot and enough emotional growth for a story is probably actually impossible, and I wonder how many authors wind up fudging on the hugging and the learning. (Unlike Seinfeld, I am pro embrace, pro epiphany.) It may seem harmless, but it sets up some messed up expectations for life.

Setting emotional deadlines for yourself or other people is...not a good idea. Because emotional time is not linear. Getting farther in months or years from an inciting incident does not result in a neat diminishment of influence. The worst moments in my life are either so long ago I can barely feel them, or so present that their proximity drenches me in sweat. And back and forth, around and around.

And acceptance isn't stationary. And love isn't an ever fix'd mark. And moving on means more movement than most people know. Back and forth like waves, round and round like the Earth, in and out like breath. Parts of us are always moving.