My teenage years are broken up into two distinct parts: before cancer and after cancer. Every memory I have automatically falls into a category in relation to my dad’s diagnosis. I got my driver’s license before cancer, and I graduated high school after cancer. I applied to college before cancer, and I got accepted after cancer. I wish my mind didn’t work this way, but cancer has a way of changing everything.

I had my first panic attack during my senior year of high school, in the middle of anatomy class. We were prepping for a lab where we’d prick our finger, draw a bit of blood, and determine our blood type. I had been looking forward to this lab – I loved this kind of thing. Right before we were supposed to break off into our lab groups, my heart jumped into my throat. I felt heat over my entire body, and suddenly the room was spinning. I carefully stood and walked to my teacher, hoping I wouldn’t collapse en route. When I asked her if I could go to the nurse, she took it was a teachable moment.

“Don’t forget everyone, it’s OK if you’re afraid of blood! You can sit this experiment out!!”

If I had a dollar for every time someone called me “brave” for publicly sharing my struggles with alcohol abuse and sobriety, I wouldn’t be driving around with a massive dent in the side of my car that I can’t afford to get fixed. My propensity for over-sharing my life – the good, the bad, and the ugly – has apparently given some people the idea that I’m courageous. I have a confession to make though: I don’t deserve any of the praise, and that’s because it’s not about bravery. To be brave, you have to face something that scares you, and sharing my story doesn’t scare me in the slightest.

99% of the people who read my blog are also social media/real life friends, so you already know the news… WE’RE PREGNANT! We’re expecting a baby in April 2019, and it is not physically, emotionally, humanly possible to be more excited than we are. Of course, as I do with everything, I wanted to document all the details about this experience. If I don’t take pictures and write about something… did it even really happen?

A few weeks ago, a close friend sent me a text message. “You should write a blog about your first year of marriage.” I responded something along the lines of, “Great idea!” but in my head thought, “No way.” What on earth would I say? It’s not that I don’t have thoughts on early marriage (and marriage in general), but who am I to speak on it? I’ve been married for one year, and just like every other newlywed, I’m learning as I go. If people want to learn about marriage, they should learn from a couple that has 20+ years under their belt. Clearly they know what they’re doing.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written about a lot of hard things. I’ve written about losing my dad, getting sober, and plenty of other ups & downs that come with adulthood. I can easily say that this post is the hardest thing I’ve ever written.

A couple of days ago, I was talking to a friend on the phone. I met this woman when she reached out to me, confiding that she wants to stop drinking and needed a bit of advice. After just one conversation, I knew we were soul sisters – everything she’s experiencing now, newly sober, I experienced too. Naturally, talking to her always reminds me of certain things or feelings I’ve forgotten over time.