Get over it or get past it (or both)?
No! I didn’t get over it already. What’s more realistic is I’ve gotten past it. Trauma is like flowers that bloom, go dormant, and bloom again. Emotions, like living things, cycle over time. Get over it implies the trauma’s impact ended. Get past it implies overcoming the impact. Overcome and end have different finish lines. I’ll get over the cancer experience once there’s a cure. Here’s evidence I’m past it:
- Less intense panic attacks
- Fewer decisions I’m too paralyzed to make
- No need to explain that quadruple mastectomies dictate my wardrobe choices.
- Haircuts are haircuts, not flashbacks about being bald.
What’s the ‘it’ I’m past?
The radiologist, who I’d never met, entered the room, stared at the screen, and declared with certainty the abnormalities on my breast ultrasound were benign. The ultrasound technician looked shocked but didn’t contradict him. The radiologist missed the cancer. I didn’t put the ultrasound technician on the spot by asking what the look meant. We both deferred to the doctor’s white coat.
When my own doctor did follow up, one year later, I was four months from dead of advanced breast cancer. Treatment left me exhausted, underweight, brain-fried, and angry the cancer wasn’t diagnosed before it required heavy artillery.
They made mistakes where they’re supposed to be experts. I tried to stay angry that the radiologist was wrong and I nearly died because of it. I tried and couldn’t sustain the effort. I was too happy to be alive.
Most decisions rely on imperfect information; even experts can’t know every variable. My diagnosis was in time, if not timely.
I’m grateful. I’m past it.