An Open Letter To Myself On Being Strong
Dear strong Jess,
I know you work so hard to stay brave and courageous, but I want you to know it’s okay to feel small and scared sometimes. What you’re dealing with is really unfair, scary and unpredictable and you don’t have to take all of that on yourself. You didn’t cause this, you don’t deserve this as some sort of "past life karma" and you’re not a victim for feeling your pain as deeply as you do.
I’m sorry you don’t feel like you can wear your struggles on the outside, but I am proud of you for holding it together the way you do. I’m grateful that you get up each day motivated to make the best of every situation and the most of every day. I love how you see the light in the dark and strive toward it. I hope you know you deserve to heal and I need you to know how much and how badly I want you to heal. There’s no world that would be better off without you in it and there’s no way I’m going to let go of your hand and let you go down without a fight.
I’m sorry you’ve lost so many friends to the same disease that’s been trying to claim you for the last 7 years. I know you’ve tried over and over to make sense of this and I realise how much this pains your heart. I am proud of you for marching on strongly in their honour, regardless of how much survivors guilt you digest.
Dear strong Jess, please know, you don’t always have to be so strong. I need you to know it’s okay not to be okay: to break down, scream, cry and yell at the severity of this all. I know you feel drained mentally, physically and spiritually but you’re going to push on. You always do. Give yourself the permission to break down, to crumble and to explode. Then allow yourself the space to collect yourself, glue the pieces back and reinvent yourself. You don’t need to keep it all in, speak about how you feel, journal them and meet others that understand what you’re going through. You’re never alone, even when you feel alienated by society. I promise.
Dear strong Jess, I know I don’t take the time to appreciate you that often. Heck, I probably spend more time cursing you than loving you, and for that I’m so sorry. I know you’re doing the best you can with the cards you’ve been dealt and you can’t control things that are plain and simply out of your hands. I know you’ve asked 'why' so many damn times and it kills me to know that no answer can ease your unsettled heart but some things in life just don’t have answers.
Dear strong Jess, you don’t have to always be 'strong Jess'.
Just be Jess.
That’s more than enough.
My name is Jessica & I’ve heard "you have cancer" three times. No matter how seemingly ‘normal’ the diagnosis becomes, you never get used to it. I beat Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 15 years old and recurrent mucoepidermoid carcinoma just before my 21st birthday. My life motto is "fall down seven times, stand up eight!"