LBBC would like to welcome our newest blogger Tiffany Mannino! While Tiffany has had a long-standing relationship with LBBC this is her first (of many) posts for the LBBC blog. Her entries are a bit different in that she is sharing with us personal journal entries written in letter format she penned to her unborn daughter while traveling through her breast cancer journey. This letter is an excerpt from her collection of letters which she titled Beautifully Broken: Letters From a Girl/Woman/Human in Progress in which Tiffany reflects on her five year journey with letting go of the past, facing fears, learning to love, finding happiness in the moment, and realizing that she is exactly where she is supposed to be in life.
November 10, 2013
Well, I cannot believe it, but it has been almost five years since I started writing to you. It began with an insomniac moment and an incredible urge to write down all of the thoughts that were exploding in my head. It started after hearing the devastating news that the adoption I had been waiting on for over 18 months was going to fall through. This adoption news had come on the heels of a broken engagement the previous year.
More determined than ever to make motherhood a reality for me, I began to write letters to you as way to cope with the grief but also keep the candle of hope burning inside of me. The day I started opening up my heart to you, I truly wasn’t sure how long I would keep going. Never did I think that five years later the letter writing journey would still be unfolding. I guess I always assumed that this project would end with the fairytale happy ending; the day I met you face to face.
The last five years have certainly been eventful… filled with incredible love, joy, sadness, and pain. Five years ago, I never would have imagined the obstacles that would be presented to me. Being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36, losing my ability to have children, and having dreams of adoption and surrogacy fall through almost paralyzed and at times made me want to simply give up.
But, I didn’t give up. I’ve done a ton of soul-searching over the last half- decade but particularly in the last few months. About a year ago, I fell for someone. After a divorce and subsequent broken engagement, I carried a lot of mistrust for men. Going through breast cancer just made me close off from relationships even more. When I fell for this man, it was the first time in many years that I wasn’t fixated on being sad over not being a mother. He brought a smile to my face and a flutter in my stomach that I hadn’t felt in years. I don’t know exactly what it was, but he brought out the sassy side of me that made me feel totally alive. So, then I began to think that this story might end with me finding love again and accepting my life with or without a child.
Well, as life would have it, that relationship didn’t materialize and go in the direction that I had hoped. So, I did some more soul- searching and realized that what I have been looking for this entire time is simply to be loved. I have this incredible amount of love to give and an enormous desire to share it. For quite a long time I believed that sharing that love with a child could be a way that I could share my love forever…until the day I die. Romantic relationships may not last, but love for a child would be forever.
The truth is all relationships end at some point because that is the cycle of life. So, this story doesn’t end with the girl getting the guy or the girl getting the baby. It ends with the girl learning to love herself. It ends with the girl acknowledging that she is a ‘work in progress’. It ends with me, owning that I am imperfect and lovable. My life is beautiful because it is broken. I am beautifully broken. I am not the same person I was yesterday or who I will be tomorrow. I will continue to grow and learn from my mistakes and hopefully become a better person along the way.
I am a girl/woman/human in progress.
Tiffany Mannino is an elementary school teacher, world traveler, Zumba freak, and young breast cancer survivor who lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She has found that expressing her emotions through writing and painting has helped her deal with facing cancer at a young age and has brought her profound healing. Several of her writing pieces have been featured in books including the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series.
Stay tuned for more excerpts from Beautifully Broken: Letters From a Girl/Woman/Human in Progress!