In true Michelle Stringer fashion, my life these last two months has been insane. Ridiculously insane. You might think to yourself “Michelle is accustomed to that kind of life, it probably feels normal.” I get that, I do. I kind of think the same thing. The trouble is, I am not accustomed to it. Or OK with it. My life feels totally and utterly overwhelming. For a visual I give you a raging sea. Tides and waves crashing on rocks, it’s a little over cast these days, not full blown storms…..but nowhere near calm either. I am in a tiny sailboat, being tossed and shaken like a helpless rag doll. I am frantically grasping for my sails….trying to adjust with all the strength I have. Some days I am able to steady my little boat. Other days the waves are too powerful and I am too weak and I give up and curl up to wait the storm out.
To catch you all up on my life, I honestly don’t know where to start….it’s that complicated and exhausting. I have started to update many times over the last few weeks, but I always quit….at a loss for words once. If I could, I would meet for you for coffee somewhere quiet and I would tell you all about the last two months and you would probably be at a loss for words. That’s OK, I am too.
I guess the easiest way is to just old school list out the things I am carrying on my back and then try to explain them. Does that sound OK? Otherwise this blog post will be long and weighty….who has time for that?
Here are the things that weigh me down right now on a daily basis:
Selling my house
Buying a new house
Leaving our community and starting over somewhere new
Full-time college (every UGH I can mutter)
Applying for Nursing School in the Fall (again….all the UGHS)
3 kids and solo parenting
My breast saga continues and that is a huge burden
My health has started to decline thanks to sky high cortisol levels and extreme stress
And last, but NOT least…..I’m still heavily grieving Matt ( this in itself is huge)
When I look at this list I have to kind of laugh at myself. A few weeks ago I panicked because my back muscles between my shoulder blades became so tight and tense. It’s not so much painful as it is uncomfortable. When you google this for a woman it says HEART ATTACK. YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. THE ER DOCTORS WILL DISMISS YOU AND YOU WILL DIE. Fantastic. My chest is almost always tight. I have reflux. I have gained a ridiculous amount of weight that I can’t seem to stop. I’m chronically tired and worn so very thin. My emotions? Forget it. I don’t even know what Michelle to expect each day. It’s a crap shoot. It’s just that my life is hard. So heavy. So complicated. So many damn decisions and choices and options and forks in the road. And I no longer have this partner in my life talk things over with. And I get it, some of you have always been single…..or you are single now. Yet, I have never truly been a “single”….I have always been a “double”….since my senior year of highschool. How many 36 year old women can say they have had ONE boyfriend? ONE relationship? It seems almost pathetic to me now….but it’s the extent of my experience. So doing all of this life with 3 kids and no career and not a lot of experience…..it’s beyond hard. Beyond complicated. Beyond stressful.
So my house. I’m not really sure why but all of sudden I just felt this overwhelming urge to sell. I just had to list my house….it was time to sell it. So I decided to practice obedience (I struggle with this spiritually.) A little over a week ago I put my house on the market and waited. I honestly thought it would take a couple of months…..but to my surprise, one week in, I received an offer. Almost immediately a peace washed over me and I knew I was supposed to take this deal. I said yes and waited. For the last month I have been perusing houses in a city I want that is close to my family and has the schools I like best. I would mark many houses as my favorites, but always came back to this one house. Every other house I loved was eventually sold, except for this one that I felt God gently nudging me towards. So the day after I accepted an offer on mine I decided to look at this one house. The second I walked in, I felt it. It’s inexplicable and can only be experienced, but it was home. I just knew it. Felt it….sensed it. (I realize this makes me sound like a flakey new age hippie who burns patchouli and bathes in essential oils, but whatevs. I gots those feelers ya’ll.) So I made an offer and after a little bantering, they said yes. This all happened with 9 days. This is a big deal for so many reasons, but the main reason is this: I have never bought or owned a home. Some of you are scratching your heads and going “Huh? I know she and Matt bought homes and lived there. She lives in one now!!” My name was never on a home we bought. Matt bought them. I’m not a co-borrower or anything. Same for my car, Matt owns it. Because I stayed at home with our babies and didn’t bring much to the table financially, Matt didn’t think it was important for me to be on the loans. I never cared. I should have. When Matt died, I had NO credit. None. 35 year old woman with no credit history. Awesome. So under the advisement of people I trusted I opened lines of credit. This boosted me to a great score. I also have a good chunk of equity in my home since when we bought it, it was an absolute dump that was basically inhabitable. Matt’s last gift to me for sure, even though he didn’t know it. So I am selling a home BY MYSELF you guys. I am BUYING A HOUSE by myself. I got pre-qualified BY MYSELF. When I think of who I was a year ago and who I am becoming today, it’s astonishing. The learning curve of widowhood is steep. Ridiculously, impossibly so. Yet I am learning…..at light speed. There are so many emotions that wash over when I think of moving. Leaving our community. Starting over. Saying good bye to a home that Matt loved and built with his own hands. I couldn’t possibly explain them. I’ll just tell you it’s hard and happy and sad and angry and ugly and beautiful and exciting and terrifying all at the same time. So, yeah. It’s that.
Our future home. (I know Hadley is crying. This is real life with kids. One is always crying. Always.)
OK, so the boob drama. This makes me say UGH too. I ended up with an MRI that was going to be “definitive….we will know exactly what is going on after this MRI.” So I decide to go this MRI alone. I am single and I need to learn to be alone….so I’ve got this. Right? Riiiiiiiiiiiight. First of all, the MRI is in the exact same place I took Matt to for 6 weeks Mon-Fri for radition last year. OK, so I’ll just do some deep breathing. Focus. Put my thoughts above it. My hippie stuff. I’m zen…or whatever. No my head isn’t spinning. My chest isn’t getting tight as a drum. I’m all chill and cool and calm waters. Right. They call my name and of course the receptionist says “hey I remember you! You were always with the really tall guy huh?” I laughed at her description (accurate) and reply “yes, that’s me”. She says what I know is coming and I am instinctively dreading it. “How is he?” Oh. Well. “He died last July unfortunately.” Now I am staring at a small part of a random wall. Making my thoughts as tiny as possible. Choking back the tears that are dangerously close to overflowing. I will not cry. I will not cry. Then this woman, this stupid woman who isn’t really stupid, but she was this day says “Oh, gosh. You’re listed as married. I guess I should change that to widowed, huh?” Those tears…..THEY GONE………out of my eyeballs and slipping down my cheeks silently. In my brain I punch this woman and say “yeah, I guess you should, you stupid, insensitive piece of garbage. CHANGE IT TO WIDOWED BECAUSE MY HUSBAND DIED AND I AM HERE TO SEE IF I HAVE CANCER ALL ALONE.” What can I say, I have a flair for dramatics. I did keep my cool and as I continued to stare at the tiny piece of the wall I said flatly “Yes, I’m widowed now. Thank you.”
The MRI went fine….if you think laying on your belly with your breasts hanging through holes, while you hang out in a loud tube for 30 minutes is fine. I waited two long days for the results. What is going on with this stupid duct of mine? And why NOW? The doctor called me while I was at a school and said “welllllllllll, we still don’t have an answer. The duct is completely full of blood and it’s not really OK….so you have to have what is called a ductal endoscopy.” But of course…..does anything in my life happen easily? No.
Today I had the endoscopy and they found a small papilloma. I was awake for the entire thing because I declined anesthesia. You guys I am too busy for that, I had stuff to do today…….widow moms ain’t got time to be knocked out. Did it hurt? Like hell….they couldn’t numb me enough since I chose to be awake. Once he found the papilloma he cut my breast open and dug it out. I’m a good time you guys, I always have a crazy story to tell. I literally watched him cut me open. I watched the camera as it went down the duct and found its target. I asked questions the whole time (I was worried he would be annoyed by me but he seemed more impressed…dude should read my blog. Boob cuts? Doc, please. Childs play.) The perk to being awake was that he said “Hey you see those red dots? I don’t like those. I’m going to cut those out and send them to pathology. I think we might find some pre-cancerous cells or straight up cancer cells here. It’s really common next to papillomas.” I didn’t even flinch ya’ll. I just said “OK!” Now, I was a little drunk during the procedure. I basically got 3 margaritas in my IV. So I was pretty relaxed. Cancer? Please. I eat cancer for breakfast Doc. Next. We talked and he said that even if there is some cancer in there, it’s contained. It’s stage 0. Although this might be the most horrible, awful, stupid timing ever in the history of stupid/bad timing…..I get it. I just felt God and Matt were all over this. The way I discovered this is so strange and so not me. I don’t check my breasts. I don’t think about them. If they hurt I just shrug it off. I don’t over think it. I over think a lot of things. but not my boobies. I’m so glad I listened to that tiny tiny voice that said “hey, check this out homegirl.” Even though it’s added a new dimension of stress to my life, deep down, I know it will be OK. It will. Boobs are dumb. The end. PS…..check your boobies. Squeeze them. Make sure nothing strange is going on. If it is, go get checked. Really….just do it. Those boobs? They are time bombs….check them.
So this blog ended up being horribly long….sorry for that. I lied to you. It happens. I will quickly sum up that school totally sucks, I feel as though I am drowning most days. I am doing well in 2 out 3 classes, and I have to be OK with that. Managing my time and balancing all of my THINGS is HARD. I want to do it all and be a strong, I can do it all mom and woman, but the truth that I am learning every day is that I can’t. Not only can I not pour from an empty cup, but I certainly cannot pour from a cup that has a rusted out bottom. And that’s basically what I’m attempting to do. It’s not working well for me at all. I am officially applying for Nursing School and officially FREAKED OUT. I can’t really believe it’s here. I have bulldozed my way through all of my pre-reqs. Through a cancer diagnosis, cancer treatment, my husband dying, grieving, learning, solo parenting, and now a cancer scare of my own. Yet I persist. I keep moving. Even when I want to quit. Even when I cry and cuss and feel sorry for myself in the bottom of my sailboat…..I persist. I push. I grab my sails…sometimes in desperation and other times in strength of steel and I persist. I can’t help but smile some days when I think of how proud Matt is of me….because he radiates it to me daily. His love for me is still here and with me. He is with me and I am so glad. I have my King and my man in my corner…..who can possibly come against me?