How Major Surgery and a Tough Breakup Led to the Best Year of My Life

A year ago today I was lying on an operating table, having an actual panic attack as four capable medical professionals were struggling to find a vein for an IV. I couldn’t catch my breath and was sobbing uncontrollably and my kind surgeon, who I’d grown friendly with during the pre-op process, offered to call my boyfriend, and that only made me cry more. I explained we weren’t together any more, and she said, “who breaks up with their boyfriend a week before major surgery?” Which weirdly made me laugh. Because, who in their right mind would? It was just a ridiculous thing to do. I puffed out a few breaths saying it wasn’t really my plan. Then the nice orderly said, “Girl, let me tell you about the sucky girl who broke my heart,” which distracted me, calmed me down enough for them to find a vein and move along with the surgery as planned.

As I’ve talked about before, the surgery was to remove a giant, grapefruit sized teratoma cyst from inside of me (some may refer to this as eating your twin in the womb… but it’s more like absorbing some cells… or so I like to tell myself). This cyst, Agatha (as my daughter dubbed it) had really been cramping my style, growing and making me generally miserable for ages. I was so relieved she was gone. 

But I wasn’t prepared for the loneliness that happened during my recovery. It was a perfect storm: My friends came to help the first few days, but then had to return to their own lives; my daughter was away with her father on a vacation so I didn’t have her little smiling face; and I didn’t have my boyfriend of a few years who I’d grown rather attached to. For the first time in a while, I was truly alone (aside from the cats, who aren’t great conversationalists). And I didn’t even have my “twin” with me. All of this unfolded right before my birthday, which is always a hard time for me, because I’m not a super big fan of birthdays to begin with. 

So I wallowed. I was suddenly sad about the fact that I couldn’t have more kids… which was insane because I had made the choice not to have more long before my surgery. As a 44-year-old single mom with an already tight budget and a teenager, the idea of finding myself with a newborn wasn’t something I wanted. But I still felt like I lost something. 

Recuperating with my cat

And I felt myself complaining to my friends about everything. I was miserable that I was overweight. I was resentful of the fact I couldn’t exercise. I hated that I was suddenly single when I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with someone. I was angry about being broke all the time. I was convinced I was just going to be a sad cat lady. I was real emotional about the fact that my daughter was turning 13 and that meant she needed me less. I was upset that my stitches weren’t healing as quickly as they were supposed to. It was a TIME. 

But I decided I needed to get out of my own way. I bought this candle from Haus of Hoodoo, because her candles had been praised by a friend. And while the money one was tempting, I chose the uncrossing one because it claimed to help me with the negativity. And it did. I tried to “listen” to what it was telling me, and I could feel the candle telling me to let go of the anger at my ex. Laugh if you want. Be skeptical if you want. But I did what it was guiding me towards. And it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. What a feeling! That one action only led to me shedding more of the negativity in my life.

I went to my doctor and he told me to start exercising (Yes, i’m sure he tells everyone that) because he said the endorphins would help my mood. So I went to a gym that I thought was way out of my price range, and it wasn’t! That felt like a huge victory. And the endorphins did help, or maybe it was the cathartic process of throwing heavy medicine balls at the ground. And I finally just started running again.

Then I started meditating daily. I sucked at it. One article I read told me to say hello to the passing thoughts and tell them that you’ll deal with them later, a tip which helped me so much. When I would finish meditating I would have such a clear purpose of what I was supposed to do next. It was kind of crazy how much my mind was buzzing at the opportunities in front of me. It really helped me prioritize what was truly important.

And I started doing all these things I was interested that I had put on the backburner because I was in a relationship. Not that my ex ever told me not to do anything (I wouldn’t have listened anyway), but because I was busy doing things with him, having a kid and a full time job and social obligations, etc. When I had gotten divorced, my daughter was little and needed all of my attention, but now as a teen she had her own life and a phone and Facetime. Suddenly, I had this free time at night. And I decided to make the most of it. I signed up for a ton of free/cheap classes on the internet, at the gym, wherever I could. Anything I had wanted to do for years and years I just figured I’d start giving them a try. I muddled a little on the guitar (I’m still barely playing a chord, but whatever!), I took classes in herbalism, web design, German and Reiki healing (message me if you need some distance healing!).

Hiking in the winter in Maine wearing my elf hat

And every day I kept up the meditating and focusing my life on positive intentions and goals. I started making so many lists and plans. It all gave me the much needed distraction from the loneliness, and then things just improved in my life, or maybe my perception of them improved. 

I drive 80-100 miles a day and had a dicey few rides in my Beetle, and my dad helped me buy a new safer car. My mom and aunt helped me take a trip to Austria, which was amazing because much as I love to travel my budget had never allowed me to go to Europe. I’ve felt creatively inspired in ways that I haven’t in years. I’ve done yoga on the beach in Miami, I’ve snorkeled in the Gulf of Mexico, I rode in a blimp!

My daughter and I just after our amazing blimp ride

And of course bad stuff has happened, I’ve had stupid headaches and other annoying health issues to contend with, I had a fender bender, I’ve dealt with money stuff and dating debacles, but all of that hasn’t stopped me from having my best year ever. I’ve just dealt with issues as they come up and tried to not complain too much. 

I stopped trying so hard to date, and that’s freed me up for my art, crafts and friends. I have said yes to going out more and doing things I’d ordinarily say no to. I have hiked, walked, climbed things and even tackled a silly inflatable obstacle course with my kid on a day I felt awful, and did it with a big old smile on my face. I dyed my hair pink, even though people questioned it. I started oversharing my life in this blog. 

I was so comfortable and complacent in my pre-surgery life. I thought I was happy and I did fun things, and my life was good and I’m lucky and grateful for everyone. But this year I’ve just really felt the joy and positivity radiating out of me. And now I finally feel like a new version of me. A happy, pink-haired, optimistic (most of the time) woman who loves to try new things and explore the world. I’ve got adventures planned for months ahead, some small, some bigger, and I just can’t wait to see how it all unfolds. Life is really a journey, and I’m finally enjoying every minute. 


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