Clothing seems to be on my mind a lot lately. It stems from a need to self-soothe. Seeking out sources of comfort and touch during a pandemic has been challenging on my own. I want to immerse myself in a cloud of soft comfort. Maybe I want to feel like I’m a newborn, wrapped in a blanket and safely cradled in my mother’s arms. Neither of these is possible.
I have yoga pants and fleece.
How did I get here?
My attire was somewhat preppy in high school. There were an alarming number of shoes to go with outfits. I didn’t feel I was high maintenance, but I may have projected something different. I was not as dressed up in college because of all the walking from class to class. I still think I was overly preppy. It also looks like I mixed it up with some lowkey material girl looks from looking at old photographs, yet these were in a very conservative way.
My teaching wardrobe went through several cycles. I felt I needed to wear dresses and skirts when first starting out to establish myself as a professional. The longer I taught, the more relaxed my wardrobe became. I knew I could look professional and respected without dressing up. Times changed. Black, navy, gray, and tan slacks became staples. Jeans were acceptable to wear. School spirit gear was fun. I know I showed up in my “dressy” yoga pants with sweaters a few times in my last few months in the classroom.
Early retirement brought on a much more comfortable wardrobe. I expanded my yoga pants collection to include black, navy, and gray colors. Yoga pants were soft, flowy, forgiving, and could be worn just about anywhere. It’s always exciting when the heat of summer draws to a close and temperatures drop enough for yoga pant season to begin. I may be oversharing and have a problem. Oddly enough, I don’t do very much yoga. They are my standard anything oncology wear from treatments to scans. The lack of metal is a big draw on scan days.
I also have an addiction to fleece zipped jackets. I don’t like tight cuffs around my wrists nor am I a fan of pullovers or hoodies. When I find a style that suits my requirements, I order several in favorite colors. Colors that offer many options with my yoga pants.
My yoga pants and fleece give me softness and moments of comfort. I can feel safe for a bit. The texture is calming. They even make great pajamas even though pajamas are another one of my favorite things.
Cancer is hard. There are days it is almost too hard. It is an effort to function throughout the day. Those days are void of joy. I’m happy (relieved) when I crawl into bed at night. I don’t feel like I can put it into words. Any long term, debilitating, life stealing disease is hard. On days when I’m wiped out with fatigue from treatment or simply emotionally done, I feel better wearing my soft clothing.
Cancer is uncomfortable. I have been nauseous. I have shivered and roasted in the same moment. I have been exhausted. I have had steroid induced insomnia. I have had worry and fear induced insomnia. I have had severe muscle spasms. My hands and feet have provided unrelenting hurt. I have been emotionally assaulted regularly by a number of triggers. I have been irritated, annoyed, angry, pissed off, and deeply sad. I have spent full days at the treatment center for lab, oncology visits, and then treatment. I have been sent home early with no treatment due to poor labs. Those days are not easy.
Cancer is not safe. Everything is not okay from Day 1. Mathematically, this is around Day 3,243. Metastatic cancer is like swimming with sharks with a bleeding cut or trying to escape an avalanche and never really having a chance. I willingly submit to receiving deadly poison throughout my entire body to chase after something even more deadly. Some take radiation treatments. Some have surgery. Medication is taken multiple times a day. All of these come with a long list of possible side effects – including death. I’m doing the best I can.
Cancer’s texture is rough, harsh, indescribable. It’s a far cry from yoga pants and fleece. It’s more like wearing a coat of searing burning nails. Keep in mind not all days feel this way. One is one too many. There are days where I wear more normal clothes and I feel almost dressed up, because frankly everything is a step up from yoga pants. Dressing up has its merits in the name of feeling normal and functional. I dressed up for my last couple of treatments and received my share of compliments, the best being I looked much younger than my age. Admittedly, that lifted my spirits. Comfort is the key word most days.
Yoga and fleece can only take me so far. Soft clothing helps. I feel a bit like Linus must with his blue security blanket. Security would feel comforting and steady. Thank goodness for small pleasures like yoga pants and fleece. They will have to do.
What do you do to self-soothe?