Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Don't Give a...

During the darkest and most trying days of the chemo/radiation ride, I was profoundly focused on one thing: getting through. As a result of this focus, I did not give a shit about anything else. I would not have given a shit had I had a shit to give. I didn't have two shits to rub together.

This feeling of not giving a shit was also profound, and probably necessary. I never even considered what my hair looked like or whether wearing sweatpants in public was unattractive. Or if wearing a stretchy, comfortable tank top in place of a bra would make me look overweight. I knew I was pale, that my face was bloated, that my jeans were simultaneously too loose when I walked and too tight around my waist when I sat down. But did I give a shit about what anyone else might think about all this? No shits. It did not even cross my mind to give a shit.

As my brain came out of the foggy, confused, exhausted state that it was in, some of those shits came back. I knew I was feeling better when I started to wonder if it was time to go get a haircut. I haven't had a haircut since January. Awkward-growing-out-stage describes the past 6 months. I'm glad there are no photos, but mostly because seeing myself the way I looked would probably bring back the nausea and other discomforts I was truly suffering from.

You know what I didn't suffer from? I did not suffer because I didn't look good. I remember thinking to myself, as I was half-passed-out on the bed after getting up to go to the bathroom for the fifth or sixth time in the middle of the night and while experiencing a kind of hot flash that made me break out in an instant sweat: oh please just let my body work like it used to after this is all over.

Operative word: work. I want my body to work the way it used to. I want to be able to go for a run, even though it's hard and sweaty and makes me breathe heavily. I want to be able to drag myself, a sleeping bag and pad, a tent, more clothing than I need, a first aid kit, rain gear, and a bicycle, up and over a mountain. I want to be able to eat and drink the foods that make me feel happy and satisfied without my throat feeling like it's going to close or my stomach cramping up painfully and making me feel so sluggish that I am forced to lie down.

Sadly, the culture training I've been bombarded with for most of my life was more deeply rooted than even chemo and radiation could penetrate. I once again consider what I'm wearing before I walk out the door. I run my fingers through my hair, hoping that it looks intentionally messy and not just untended. I don't prefer looking like a slob, but I wish I could stop judging my body for what it looks like - something I've done for as long as I can remember. I've started to look at my body again and consider what would improve it aesthetically and it's such a waste of energy.

I've been wanting to write this blog post for a while - in fact, ever since I started giving a shit again and I realized how disappointing that was. This lovely essay from a writer friend of mine reminded me that I wanted to write about this. Her words nail the whole idea together nicely, in the context of the anti-aging industry and working with truly beautiful elderly people.

I now know what it feels like to simply love my body and wish only for it to have the capability to recover and survive. I wish I could stop giving a shit again. It felt so good. I was liberated from the judgements that I weigh against myself on behalf of society. I don't need that shit. Nobody does.


  1. Those carefree days are rare. I remember with glee the 10 day silent meditation course in which no one was allowed to look at any one and the freedom it created in me. I wore the same clothes day and night for many days, just got out of bed and went to the meditation hall; no mirrors no eyes; just being. I think I'll sign up again.

  2. Yes, Ramona you are so right. We don't need that shit in our lives. It is liberating to acknowledge ones inner beauty. It's been wayyy toooo long since I read your blog. Catching up brings a smile to my heart and face. From goats to fields to inspiring life lessons... I love to listen to your thoughts and experience your world. It makes me happy that you are in Zurich again because I know you both love it there. I've been working many hours and will for another 2 weeks but hopefully I can catch you both on Skype. Take care of each other, Love Mom

  3. All the freaky people make the beauty of the world!!

  4. It's almost not fair to blame our superficiality on culture, since we see many of the same traits in the animal kingdom. Doesn't change your point any, and it doesn't mean our prioritization on how we look can't be overcome, but boy is it deeply-rooted.

  5. It's not the superficiality that bugs me so much. I like to get dressed up and look cute for the fun of it and I know how unimportant it is in the grand scheme of things.

    But it's the judgement weighed on others and ourselves for being less than perfect that drives me up the wall. Pretty sure that's cultural, since every culture has a different idea of perfection and in some cultures people spend very little time judging each other based on appearances.