One of the most comforting things to hear as a patient or, in my case, as a family member of a cancer patient, is that the test results came back clear and that you are now considered cancer-free. It doesn’t mean everything’s fixed and easy from here on, but it makes it a lot easier to tackle whatever’s next.

Now that our family drama is behind us, we can get back to “normal” – in my case, back to apartment-hunting so I can shave a little time off of my daily four-hour commute (two hours getting there, two hours getting back). It hasn’t driven me crazy yet, but I am seeing little signs that it’s wearing on me now, after 10 months.

I would like very much to have time to exercise and watch movies and perhaps spend an evening with friends. It doesn’t seem like it’s possible right now, but it never does until it happens and you realize that you’ve gotten to the point you were hoping to get to.

Flying from SFO to EWR

This time last year, I was navigating the weird terrain that is interviewing for a new job while still being wholly committed to your current job, simply because you’ve realized that you have hit the ceiling in your current role, and that it’s nothing that you’ve done or haven’t done… it’s just the way things work in that environment. On your last day, when someone says to you, “It’ll be nice to have a fresh start – no one will know you as having been the assistant”… you smile and nod and think to yourself, “Wow. Now I see where you have me pegged. I was never an assistant.”

But you make sure that you go out “like a champ, not a chump.” I was constantly stressed and depressed — I was losing sleep over living paycheck to paycheck. And then a few months went by in my new job, with my new title and the salary that came with it,  and I was sleeping better. I found that it was a lot easier to be happy at work and deal with stress at work because, at the end of the day, I was able to take care of myself.

I didn’t see that until I was already there and I didn’t realize it was better until, one day, I got home, got into bed, and just fell asleep – no tossing, no turning, no watching stupid movies to distract myself.

This isn’t an attempt to compare the experience of battling cancer to the experience of being unhappy in a job… this is more about changes in perspective and how difficult it is to realize that things have gotten better until it’s really taken hold. Struggle and unhappiness and despair affect every aspect of your life: you can’t think straight, nothing feels right, you’re plagued by thoughts that include words like, “never” and “always,” and it’s not a smooth progression. Things are good and things are bad, and then even worse… and then it’s gone.

I haven’t been reading any self-help books or watching Dr. Phil. I was just thinking about the nature of recovering from difficult times. It’s been on my mind lately… so I’m rambling. And fuck it, I’m allowed to ramble. I pay my hosting fees.

Until I get back into the habit, there might not be matters of great substance up here, and I’m sort of fine with that.

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