I have always, for as long as I can remember, been a bit of a glutton for punishment. As an adult, I learned of the term ‘masochism’ and knew I had that affliction.
Now get your minds out of the gutter, people, I’m not talking freaky-deaky stuff here, I am talking the concept of lightly torturing myself either physically, emotionally or mentally for my own pride.
Allow me to give you a few examples:
- Every year for Lent I give up something hard (hard for me). Past Lents have included: all processed sugar, cheese and social media. Important to note: I am not religious, I do this for my own self discipline.
- Brazilian bikini waxes. I have done them religiously for 20 years (minus chemo, God’s poisonous Brazilian) for no reason other than I like the fact that I survive it every time.
- I force myself to do things like train for half-marathons in the winter in Chicago. Getting up at 5:45 in early January to do a 11 mile training run is not something I did for the glory of the achievement, it was more about slogging through how much I hated it and then, again, surviving it.
Cancer was like the ultimate masochistic spree. I didn’t derive any pleasure from the pain of surgeries or chemo, but I did revel in the supreme pride of surviving it all.
I am seriously contemplating getting a tattoo to commemorate my cancer odyssey. Part of wanting to do this is my masochism. The idea of the physical pain thrills me. I want to feel it hurt. Is that really bizarre? Are you guys weirded out by me right now? You should know by now that I am just bonkers. Or at least, I am as bonkers as anyone else, I just wear my crazy on the outside.
This blog is even a tad masochistic. For months I have put some of the most intimate details of my life on display for the world. There have been times I have written something that I really don’t think I should publish for a myriad of reasons, but I always do. I press the ‘publish’ button with trepidation and then slam the laptop shut, like that might cancel out what I just made public to the world.
Saying your truth out loud, however sensitive it might be, is a form of masochism to me. It hurts sometimes to be this raw, but I know what the rewards are and I love them. I love giving a voice to other breast cancer thrivers who don’t feel comfortable speaking or just making someone feel better about their problems because they see through my shitshow that they are not alone.
*I would like to note that the photo at the top of the blog is what I look like every night. I sleep with an ice pack wrapped around my head and a fan blowing on my face because my hot flashes are so intense all night long. I wake up 2-3 times per night to change the ice pack. This is my new Tamoxifen reality. It is brutal, but all things considered, it isn’t horrible. This is not masochism, as I derive no enjoyment from sweating through my PJs multiple times a night.