As I walked through the hallway of the daycare center to pick up my daughter, I encountered a little boy of about three years old. As we walked toward each other, he stared at me, taking in my black head scarf and silver hoop earrings. He said; “Lady, what are you; a pirate or something.” Smiling, I replied, “Yes, yes I am a pirate.” (Full disclosure; I’m not really a pirate.) I wore the black scarf to cover my bald head due to chemo treatments. The earrings were supposed to distract people from the scarf.
Just a few days before being outed as a pirate, a friend lovingly reminded me that my cancer treatment was complete; it was time to get back to life. She went on to suggest I begin to shift my focus from my lack of eyelashes, eyebrows, breasts and hair to something that would make me feel good. She suggested makeup and the earrings.
Before cancer treatment, I wore makeup and earrings. During cancer treatment, makeup and accessories fell by the wayside. I rebuked her suggestions by letting her know I just didn’t feel like wearing makeup and earrings.
During this conversation with my friend, I was discovering I didn’t feel much of anything these days. Maybe she was right, it was time to rejoin life.
I went to the store to purchase a pair of lovely, big, silver hooped earrings. I also purchased a whole new selection of foundation, blush, and eyeshadow. Upon returning home, I spread the makeup and earrings out on my bathroom counter and I looked in the mirror, thinking; “what’s the point of trying to hide these telltale signs of cancer treatment? How could I possibly cover up all the scars and hair loss? And, oh yeah how could I forget; I no longer have breasts.” But I trusted my friend, so I took a deep breath and did what I could with what I had.
Adorned with my new makeup and earrings, I went to meet my friend for lunch. I waited for the false praise, the patronizing comments about how right she was and how much better I looked. To my utter surprise, she greeted me with, a warm smile. “How do you feel?” I was completely thrown off. I couldn’t dishonor her genuine care with a sarcastic, funny comment. I replied, “I forgot what it is like to feel like a girl again, thanks for the reminder.”
I wore these earrings every day for the next few years. Feeling the hoops swing in my ears and gently bump up against my neck was a reminder of how far I’d come from feeling the lowest I’d ever felt.
I wore these earrings when I wrote and shared my first blog. I wore them to every doctor’s appointment. The first time I heard the word “remission”, I was wearing those earrings.
Over time, my hair, confidence and self-esteem grew. At some point, the earrings made their way to the back of my jewelry box. I forgot about them. Until recently…
Lately, some old anxieties have resurfaced. As a result, I notice I’ve forgotten how far I’ve come. When I find myself in this place of forgetfulness, I review what got me through the tough times. What reminded me of who I am? How did I break free and return to who I really am? Ahhhh, it’s so simple, how could I forget? The earrings. I went to the back of my jewelry box and found them.
I lovingly put these earrings on and am transformed.
Do you have a physical reminder of “who you are?” What is it? How did it become a reminder for you? I’d love to hear your story. I read and respond to every comment.
Lockey Maisonneuve is the founder of the Let It Go Workshop. This workshop is a combination of yoga, discussion, journaling and meditation. Upcoming workshops in Ca., NJ. Click here for workshop registration. Lockey and the MovingOn program have been profiled in magazines, television, radio. Print: Shape Magazine, Origin Magazine, and Yoga Mantra + Health Magazine. For more information about Lockey and to sign up for her weekly Tao of Bacon, go to www.lockeymaisonneuve.com.
Image courtesy of Brooke Cagle.