I am clearly not immune to negative self-talk! Any of you who have ever had a mammogram know the drill. You walk into the waiting room, strip from waist up and put on a completely flattering hospital gown. Then you sit in a waiting room with women some of whom are there for routine screenings, some of whom are there for more intensive imaging, some waiting for infusions, some sporting bright hats or scarves covering their bald heads. The TV is usually on, women are on their phones, everyone is tense for one reason or another. So there I was yesterday, all of this serious health care going on around me, shivering in my flattering gown, a pair of pants, and my usual comfortable shoes.
The line I always use when I explain why I always wear comfortable shoes and never wear heels is,”I have bad feet.” Yesterday I was sitting next to a similarly gowned woman who had on great shoes! What went through my head? “I wish I could wear shoes like that! Ah, but, I have SUCH bad feet!” Where did that come from? How could I have gone through over 50 years without realizing that I have an automatic thought that is completely disrespectful to the feet that have done so much for me. They have taken me up mountains, allowed me to dance and skate, and basically held me up for half a century and I have the audacity to call them bad. Whoa! I am the one who stuffed them into toe shoes and ice skates since I was a little girl. Foot envy aside, I slapped myself into reality and said, “There are women in this room with breast cancer and I am thinking about this woman’s shoes and my shoe envy! Cindy, snap out of it!”
If I am being gracious with myself, perhaps I just didn’t want to be thinking about all of the pain around me or my own anxiety about my own test results. But I got out of my head and off of my computer and joined the conversation. It was one woman’s birthday (not her preferred way to spend it) and her mother-in-law had just turned 101. Another had been waiting for three hours and was hungry, and her sweet husband brought her food to the waiting room. Old or young, Black, white, Hispanic, we are all there for the same reason. Communities of support can form very rapidly and once I got my mind off of my feet, I joined the community rather than being an observer. Women are amazing. I was lucky to walk out with a pink slip, but others weren’t so fortunate.
Interestingly, there were no mirrors in the changing rooms. That was a smart move on someone’s part.