The two facts are not at all synonymous, but I feel that I cannot address one without addressing the other.
I am only here to talk about the first, as the details surrounding the second are largely unkown to me.
I have officially begun my quarter-life crisis. In part because my aging process has been a bit wonky. Let me break it down for you:
Jesse Pardee is, at present, 25 years, 0 days old.
Jesse Pardee is, of mind, 23 years, 0 days old (due to health pause)
Jesse Pardee is, of body, 56 years, 0 days old (due to chemo/cancer havoc)
You can see where it might get a little hairy (no cancer pun intended).
But my crisis is mainly due to the fact that I don't quite know who I am and where this momentous illness fits...or will ever fit, in my life. And I still don't quite know how it's changed me. Over the past few weeks I've been re-reading these blog posts and cringing at what I must have thought at the time was cheeky, or witty, or something. "Cutting edge", bolded statements, excessive swearing.
I also marvel at how earnestly I believed that people were interested in my life. The blog, in all sincerity, was a simple writing project of sorts. I guess the true intention was never to really deal with or to think through the experience, which is likely why I got so sick of writing on it. I'd chosen the topic of my cancer because it was something unique that I could talk about. I wanted to write about something that would stand out among the things that other people my age were writing and blogging. I guess you could say I played the cancer card: a right which, whether I like it or not, I have duly and irrevocably earned.
These past weeks, approaching my 25th birthday, I began to feel differently about my life. I look back on its first quarter--"quarter" very likely being generous in reference to my time on earth--and realize that my biggest accomplishment is beating cancer. Which, ya know, is great and dandy and all. It's just not what I wanted or pictured for myself. Obviously. That's not the kind of "win" I'd hoped for.
And then I realize that "win" is like, the biggest understatement. I faced death. I watched others--mostly children who will never have a "quarter-life crisis"--fall all around me. Gone.
My quarter-life "win" was not landing a dream job, or getting married, or having a child, or even having money to pay the bills--which in New York City is more like a monthly "win". And not that those things aren't huge accomplishments, and wonderful for people who achieve them within the first 25 years of their life. But my quarter-life "win" was in a battle for my life. Survival against a very deadly disease. "Malignant tumor" is the scariest phrase you'll ever hear come out of a doctors mouth besides "rectal exam".
So at 25 years old, why is my triumph and survival not something that makes me proud? I hate to say it, but at times it really makes me embarrassed or even ashamed, and I couldn't tell you why.
So in September I started regularly seeing a therapist who specializes in trauma and PTSD. Through this I've realized that I never truly allowed myself to look back on that year of my life and really bring that chapter to a sensible conclusion. Instead, the memories replay in my dreams, lurk in my sub-conscious, and hold me back. And, for the most part, I let them.
They make me feel as though I'm living on borrowed time, and instead of motivating me to live in the moment, I get scared. Many times I look in the mirror and see a coward. A girl who sits in the back seat while the trauma drives her around and makes all the decisions. Every light is yellow or red and everywhere she goes is a hazard zone.
In the past month, my therapist has begun EMDR treatments. You can look it up, because God knows on this "good-est" of Fridays that I cannot explain it here. It's essentially a semi-hypnotic re-working and re-living of traumatic events in order to find some closure. Because although in many ways, I'm doing quite well, my cancer is still driving the bus.
25 will hopefully be a year of discovery and recovery. I'm learning that post-cancer Jesse is a lot different from pre-cancer Jesse, and for the first time I'm allowing that to be okay. Pre-cancer, I dreamed of being on Broadway, and thought that that was the only thing that could make me happy or make me feel successful. Immediately post-cancer, I forced myself to pick up right where I left off--unaware, or unwilling to see that perhaps things were different now. Perhaps my dreams have changed or are changing.
Am I done auditioning in NYC? No.
Am I positive it's the right life for me? No.
Do I now think that there are other things that will bring me happiness? Yes, 100%.
And whether or not I decide I still want this or not, I think that's a healthy attitude to have.
And "healthy" is what I'm trying to put at the forefront right now. When I moved here, I shoved the cancer baggage to the back of my mind, telling myself I should be over it by now--unaware that it was still in control. So now I begin the next year of my life putting my health first. I am continuing therapy and EMDR. I am still living in New York City, loving this city, loving the cozy spot in Washington Heights that I share with Matt. Maybe some auditions here and there. Hopefully more classes. Maybe even some writing workshops. Maybe I'll even learn to write about something other than this black cancer plague! I know I'd like to.
I'd like to close the cancer chapter. I'd like to make it an important chapter in my life that I glance at from time to time--but no more daily re-livings. I'd like to get to a point where the dreams stop, and I don't wake up from sleep with the idea that I have to get ready for first period wind ensemble because they've sent me back to high school to make up for the missed time.
I'd like to stop thinking about the missed time and think about the time to come--however much or however little that is.