I have a lump on the side of my breast. I discovered it three days ago, just after a boudoir shoot I did for my husband. I felt sexy, empowered, beautiful and strong, followed by every opposite emotion after discovering the lump. I have no idea what it is. Perhaps I have nothing to worry about; perhaps it will change my life.
One rule of writing is to choose what you will say, how you will say it and how much to reveal. Writing for the self and writing for an audience are two entirely different things.
Another rule of writing is to tell the truth.
I’ve not been particularly good at telling the truth when I write. And ‘when I write’ is the imperative part of that sentence. I’m not a liar, not even close. In fact, I’ve been known to be a little too truthful with others. The truth I’m talking about is my own. I bright side; I convince myself the grass is greener. I tie things up in pretty little packages and impart life’s wisdom as a way to help others. But the truth here is that I’m confused. I don’t know what to think. I’m scared and I’m mad because how I thought I would react in the face of something like this is entirely different from how I feel, from what is actually moving through. Rationally I know I’m jumping the gun, taking my head way down the road, thinking about how things might be. What if? And then what?
A small lump that might be nothing is messing with my mind. And of course I relate it all back to my mom. She had breast cancer three times. She died last year as a result of stage IV metastatic breast cancer. It is such an ugly, horrible disease. I watched her go through all of it — a mastectomy, chemo three different times, radiation, operations, hospital stays, a port, intravenous feedings … and it’s only now, via a small lump that might be nothing that I see that the ways I expected her to behave were projections of how I thought I’d behave if it happened to me.
We can project thoughts, emotions and feelings all day, every day. The truth is we don’t know until we know. EMOTIONS. They take us, shape us, move us in certain ways, make us behave irrationally whether we have reason or not. They have their way with us and there is little we can do when they take us over.
Writing is my outlet. I attempt to put words to energies that don’t want to be named, and those words put distance between me and the emotions. I bear witness. Writing makes me feel better, a little more sane. It is therapy, plain and simple.
I am constantly differentiating between journaling and writing for others. It’s a fine line since I often write about my own experiences and relate them back to the human condition, but the two are very different. My journals are uncontrollable outpourings of my broken heart, whereas the writing here consists of lightbulb moments I have in the process.
Why am I telling you about a lump on the side of my breast that may be nothing at all? Because it’s a story — my story, your story, our story — about the ways we harm ourselves, about the ways we project, and about the ways we spin the truth to suit us.
I also want to tell my story for posterity’s sake. Writing is a tool for self-discovery. I know how I feel today is a moment in time and there will be a million more moments until I leave this earth. That’s the beauty and horror of being human.
I’ll call the doctor, go from there. And I’ll keep writing because it’s the only thing I know, because my hope is that through the telling of my truth you might feel compelled to do the same. Collectively we lift each other up. Together we heal.