If We Don’t Change, We Don’t Grow

I am the first to admit that I have been remiss in nurturing my friendships with other women. Over the years other things have always “got in the way”… be it work commitments, family commitments…life commitments. I should have made my girlfriend commitments more of a priority, but I didn’t. But that is all going to change. I hear women talking of their girl’s weekends, spa days, dinners…even girls-only vacations. Whatever the event, I want to participate.

I have a few what I would call “good female friends but I plan on adding to that circle and putting more effort in spending “girl time” together. If you have a close, true, and dependable female friend, you can’t ask for a better wingman, sidekick, confidante, cheerleader, and supporter. I have two girls who work for me that before Covid, I had over for an evening. And they are “girls”. They are closer to my daughter’s age and are both in very different stages of their lives than me, but so what, right?! We had a lovely evening and shared stories and laughed and bonded. I felt really happy that two young accomplished women wanted to spend an evening with me. I mean, what could they find interesting in me, and what I have to say?

It’s that doubt and insecurity that has hindered my relationships for years….and I think what keeps many of us from sharing important events and information with each other. Until I had my mastectomy, I had never talked to another woman about mastectomy surgery or reconstruction. I know it’s not something you just blurt out when you meet someone. “Hi, I’m Patti; I had my breasts cut off; had tissue expanders inserted, and now have implants. What’s your name?” But, with all the women I have met through business over the last 25 plus years, you would think that I would have met or even heard of someone who had been through this journey.

You are lying in bed. Every bone in your body aches. You feel like a marching band is parading around in your head. You start to get mad at yourself because treatment is over, and you should be “back to normal” already. But you don’t feel normal. You don’t feel like your old self; in fact, you can’t even remember who she used to be. You feel lost, fragile and broken. You don’t know what your role in this world is anymore.

****News Flash****

Your body has undergone some serious trauma and IT’S OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY. It’s okay not to have everything figured out. People think cancer is all about pink ribbons, being strong and “kicking cancer’s ass”, but who can possibly do that every day? Cancer sometimes places women on this pedestal and it can make you feel like you must be an inspiration for others. You must smile to show everyone how strong you are. You must put on that wig, and hide those tears because no one wants to see a sad, bald, woman. You can’t tell people how you really feel because you are not allowed be negative, you must be positive. Positive thinking only. I can’t tell you how many times people have said “Don’t give up, keep fighting!” Um… thanks Captain Obvious. I will keep fighting because the alternative is death and clearly, I don’t want to die.

“Women have to take time to focus on our mental health-take time for self, for the spiritual, without feeling guilty or selfish.”