Forgiving Myself

In February of this year, I was in my first car accident. The other driver stopped, looked dead at me, then pulled out in the middle of the intersection. My minivan took out her truck and we spent the next three hours chatting on the side of the road, waiting for the police. My husband was out of town when I called him to let him know what had happened, and needless to say, he was livid. He was shocked that I didn't go "momma bear" on her and was frustrated that I wasn't as angry as he was. The way I saw it was that she didn't do it on purpose. She wasn't texting, she wasn't on the phone. Actually, she didn't see my car because the sun got in her eyes. After the wreck, I could've sat in my van simmering, pretending that she didn't exist. I could've laid on the ground moaning while calling the closest injury attorney, but that's not in my character. I've been called to forgive, so I did. She felt terrible and it was so easy for me to offer her grace and to forgive her for her mistake and I'm so glad that I did! She was just the nicest person (albeit slightly distracted). We talked about our families, the joys of living in “rural” Orlando, and of God. She kept saying, “I NEVER go this way. I think that I was supposed to meet you today.” I had a feeling that I was supposed to meet her as well, although I wish she didn’t wreck my van in the process.

The next morning I could barely move. Holy back pain! At this point I started to waiver on forgiving her for causing the accident, but I was reminded that it could've been the other way around and I know that I would want forgiveness as well. So I pressed on with my forgiving attitude. Per her insurance company, I went to the doctor and they did a full work up. When I went for the results, I had all three of my boys with me and they were fascinated by the x-rays. The doctor was going through all of the images, moving from my head to my tailbone when my oldest blurted out that he was able to “see” my boobs in the x-rays. We all had a good laugh until I noticed a dark spot on the image of my left breast. I privately asked the doc about it and he chalked it up to a gas bubble. Cool, I have gassy boobs. Who knew that was even a thing!?

 
 

The following day I had an MRI of my back (holy freak-out moment there! Apparently I AM claustrophobic!). The doctor was going over the images with me and said something to the effect of “two herniated discs, blah, blah, blah,” but I couldn’t listen to him because there in front of me was the image of my whole body, and right there, plain as day, was the dark spot on my breast. Why would a spot show up twice in the same place if it were just a gas bubble? When I pointed it out he quietly suggested that I make an appointment with my primary.

I left with my head spinning. What happened to just having “gassy” boobs? This was not on my list of life goals. On the way home I called my best friend and told her. She’s the queen of Web MD so I asked her not to look anything up. I just needed her to listen to me freak out. She urged me to tell my husband, but he always has so much on his plate that I didn’t want to burden him. It was a secret between my bestie, me, and God. I made an appointment for the following Monday. The weekend was a blur of hidden tears, deep fear, and me begging God for a clean bill of health.

Monday morning arrived and I waltzed into the doc’s office armed with a smile and some sarcastic wit. I mean, how could she give me bad news if I was smiling and funny? Apparently my boob didn’t think I was funny because it didn’t cooperate and she sent me for my very first mammogram, STAT. Gone were the jokes. Cue the ugly cry. At this point I knew that I had to tell my husband (cue uglier crying) but he was stoic as always. No big deal, we’ll get through it. He wanted to come with me for my mammogram and he just knew that everything would be fine. Mammogram day arrived (by the way ladies, that DOES NOT hurt. Please, please don’t put it off) and per my usual self, I was laughing and joking with the tech. I can neither confirm nor deny that I asked her if my super awkward mammogram pose would be a good Facebook profile picture. Because my doc ordered it STAT it meant that I got the results that day. I anxiously waited until she walked in with a smile and said that everything looked great. Sweet! High fives all around, let’s blow this popsicle stand! Woah, hold up, not so fast. Then she told me that the radiologist wanted me to have an MRI done of my breasts "just to be sure.” Dang it. I take my high five back.

I was lucky enough to get a quick appointment and I felt very prepared because I had just had an MRI. I would not freak out this time. I was gussied up in a fancy hospital gown when the tech walked out, took one look at me and said (wait for it…..), ”Come on in. I need to make sure you FIT IN MY MACHINE.” Now, I’ve got some meat on my bones (my husband likes thick women, and perhaps I’ve taken it too far) but I am far from not being able to fit in a darn MRI machine. I was mortified. Granted, a breast MRI is very different from a normal MRI machine, but still. I didn’t care if they had to lather me in Crisco, I was sliding into that dang machine! I’m happy to say that I fit just fine in the machine and I’ll spare you the details of a breast MRI, but let’s just say it was interesting and I don’t look forward to a repeat. A week later I got a call saying that everything was normal. There was no mass to biopsy and they thought that the dark spot in the images was a tear or void in my tissue, more than likely from years of breast feeding my three boys. Even though my breast was deemed normal, I now have to have a mammogram and MRI every year. Oh, happy happy, joy joy.

The interesting thing about this entire debacle is that I didn’t know that I could feel that level of terrified. I have a few friends that are currently fighting the beast that is breast cancer, so I knew that if I had it that I could fight like they were and that I would be OK, but it doesn’t stop the darkness of the unknown from rearing its ugly head. For two weeks every scenario ran through my mind, but one kept repeating itself over and over: I could possibly leave my boys without their mommy. They need me. What would happen if I wasn’t around? 

When I was told that all was well, I stood in front of my mirror, droopy boobs in all their glory, and I thanked God that I was healthy. But as I stared at my reflection, I went from thankful to completely disgusted with myself. I went from grateful to angry as the reality set in that while (thankfully) I didn’t have breast cancer, I was slowly killing myself by not taking care of this body that God blessed me with. If I found out that I had breast cancer, it would be something out of my control. But my weight and my health are completely in my control, and I decided then and there that I was going to learn how to live a healthy lifestyle. How unforgivable would it be for my children to lose their mom because she couldn’t put down the Haagen Dazs? I can’t imagine how my children would feel if they lost me to a heart attack simply because it was easier to run through a drive-thru than it was to make a healthy choice. I would never be able to forgive myself. Ever. But in order to start this journey, I NEEDED to forgive myself for the harshness that I'd put my body through. They say you can't move forward until you forgive, so step one was to forgive myself for my weakness and gluttony. Step two was prayer, and step three was gratitude, that I am still young and healthy enough to begin a lifestyle change. 

I inwardly thanked the woman who caused my car accident because she set into motion the chain of events that led to my decision to take care of my health. I made a commitment to myself and my family that I would do everything in my power to get and to stay healthy. I lost 10 lbs. that first week and continue to lose weekly. I’m learning to eat the right foods and I even enjoy them (hello brussels sprouts). I may be slightly cranky due to a lack of ice cream, but I know that my boys would rather have a moody mommy than no mommy at all. I’m excited for this lifestyle change and to be the healthiest me I can be. All it took was a car accident, a possible mass on my breast, and a forgiving attitude to give me the smack upside the head that I needed.

Brooke is warrior mama to three rambunctious boys, wife to an honest, hardworking man, daughter to one of the greatest humans our great God ever created, and friend to anyone who talks to her. She's has been dubbed "the most inappropriate friend." She lives for a good belly laugh and to bring laughter to others - laughter feeds her soul. She loves the outdoors (not like hiking or rock climbing - she's not that cool - more like standing in the sunshine listening to nature!) and she finds God in the simple things.