Besides the fact that I have never abused anyone (besides myself) in my lifetime, here is my most significant triumph over trauma: I allied myself over 30 years ago to another human being who is gentle and kind.
I did not marry my negligent mother.
I did not marry my abusive father.
I did not long find attractive a single dysfunctional person.
True, the man I married took some shaping. His mother did some of it. His education and experience did some of it. I did some of it.
If I accept that cancer and its treatment is part of my life now, I also see it as an opportunity to undo the cancer and the rotten way I was treated while I had cancer as a teenager.
I do not fault the healthcare providers of my teenage body. They were excellent, caring and competent, each in their own way.
No, I fault my family, who, unable to openly deal with their fears, shut down as human beings, locked themselves in stony silence and morbid coldness, while I needed and wanted feeling, voice, expression, and meaning.
Apparently silence and coldness were to be my only companions in suffering, and rage, my father’s rage, that his teenage daughter was not just an unappealing teenage daughter, she was out of control: losing her hair, losing her lunch, shaking, sweating, pale, and exhausted.
While my spouse of thirty years, my dearest Matthew, may not be a magic wand that makes the past disappear, he does much to undo it, to heal the wounds and make me stronger. He understands my limitations. He sacrifices for my benefit. He laughs with me when my body is out of control and mourns with me when my body is out of control. He listens and learns with me and from me.
Although I feel lucky beyond belief to be with Matthew, I also know this is what I deserved all along, even as a healthy child, even as a cancerous teenager, even as a muddled but determined adult. I deserved to be loved and that I have found it now, that Matthew and I have made a life of love together, is all we ever wanted. It is a duet, a dancing in the light and in the dark.