I will admit that I have been struggling through some pretty brutal hormonal mood swings after my doctor adjusted my treatment. Part of that brought to the top some feelings I'd been having about blogging. That it's futile. That I'm not good enough/special enough/interesting enough to attract the audience I did before when I was "cool cancer girl" and living on the knife edge of life and death.
The thing is, despite my appearance (and many indicators to the contrary) I am still Cool Cancer Girl. I still have a whole host of nasty treatment side-effects, days I can barely get out of bed, more needle pokes than a voodoo doll, and a "so what let's go kick ass and be beautiful" attitude that I had before. Just because I don't really "look" like a cancer girl anymore, doesn't mean I don't still struggle to do the things that normal, healthy people do with much more ease.
Posting these "outfit" pictures has been my way of being like "Look at me! Look how normal I am! THIS is what having cancer looks like." For awhile it was shocking. It was delightful, to me and to others. Then, people started to make me feel like they had forgotten I have cancer. I thought it was a good thing. I thought it was what I wanted. I didn't have to feel the hammer-to-the-gut of thinking about cancer every freaking second of every single day.
Looking at my blogging, I am starting to feel like I've done such a good job of "normalizing" all the outside stuff, that I've effectively buried the meaty, weird, interesting stuff below. My fear, my pain , the ways in which I feel less than, the ways I work to feel more, how much work it takes to stay positive, and all the ways that my love of "superficial" things keeps me from following that shame spiral down into the dark, easy, whiny place. The stuff that makes me different/special isn't gone, but maybe it is not as obvious anymore - to me or to everyone else.
Blogging is not writing in a diary. It's personal, but it's not something I do for me. I don't reread my old blog posts. I put this stuff out into the universe because I want the attention, I want to talk about it, I want to meet new people and connect with strangers and share love and ideas. It's like the whole selfie thing I wrote about before but I needed a reminder of just why I blog - all the work and time and money I put into making this happen.
I was lying on the couch, curled up in a ball, having just thrown up for basically no reason, and talking to my friends about how I felt like I needed to stop blogging. Because I wasn't special enough, I wasn't different enough from what was already out there, I wasn't as good as the other bloggers. That my blogging didn't feel unique and meaningful the way it did when I was, well, bald. And that I was seeing that limitation in my traffic, followers, engagement. Interest in my little blog had plateaued - and while I deeply truly love every single one of you, I thought maybe it was time to get out of the rat race. And of course, I got bullied, which is a whole other story all together. I felt like some giant neon sign was telling me it was time to get off the internet.
And then I tried to explain myself. Not well, because it's hard to do that when you feel like poop-on-a stick. But the more we talked the more I realized that my message wasn't just a message for a girl facing cancer. It was for any girl facing "otherness". Something that made them different. Something that took them outside the normative ideals of attractiveness and beauty (both inside and out) but which they wanted to be a part of, not to change.
I realized that I still feel dedicated to this weird mission I picked for myself. It was never to say "bald is beautiful/nobody should wear a wig/people who wear wigs are terrible/ don't be ashamed and cave to norms of attractiveness."
My message was actually very different. I want to show the beautiful, challenging, funny world of being a female who is different, loves myself as I am, is working to change the things I do not love about myself, and most of all likes to feel pretty (and is OK with that also.)
Or, simply put, don't be an asshole.
Don't be an asshole if somebody is losing their hair and cares about that. Losing your hair sucks.
Don't be an asshole if somebody is not "skinny" but don't be an asshole if somebody wants to be "skinny" and is working on dieting and exercise either.
Don't be an asshole about "loving yourself as you are" and don't be an asshole trying to fit a narrow-minded and outdated idea of what attractive is.
Just be nice. To yourself and to others.
What is in a name?
When I was Dameazon (that's dame + amazon) I wanted to make a blog about being a tall, foxy, bigger than life babe.
When I was Dena Julia I wanted to be ME, even though I was battling this stupid cancer and couldn't recognize myself when I looked in the mirror.
I needed a new name.
Being defined by the worst thing that has ever happened to you is hard. I wanted to not be that cool, positive, "inspiring" cancer-infected, disabled person for awhile. But, that person is still me. I have cancer. It's not going anywhere in the forseeable future. I get reminded of it every single day.
So I decided to change the name of my blog (again) to something that I felt like captured more of me - the beauty I seek, the fierceness I apply to my struggle, the fricking cancer, my deep seated love of puns (is that a pun? I think it's a pun), the way I whole-heartedly embrace things that might seem superficial, and labels, and otherness, and health, and of course, the fact that I am in fact, a Leo. Meow.
So here is my message for you, today and on all the days. What I want from everyone who reads this is to feel inspired to do whatever it is you need to do to feel good about yourself. No matter what. Don't let people make you feel bad for trying or caring, especially for trying to look beautiful or for caring how you look.
Sometimes, putting on clothes to take pictures of myself is the only time I get out of bed all day. Blogging is literally the reason I get out of bed when I feel crappy (and by crappy, I mean cancer-y) and that is what works for me.
Welcome to the new Dameazon/Dena Julia/Cuterwear - Leo with Cancer.