The Truth of It

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I noticed my first red leaf today, and it took me by surprise.  I suppose in between doctors appointments and preparing for surgeries (two) that I was never going to have (at least not now) and trying to figure out how to boost my immune system and filing paperwork to take time off of work, it became fall.

I wonder what else I have missed.

I long to hash it all out, to find some sort of catharsis in the whole thing; to tell you about the many appointments, consults, research, decisions.  To explain that I woke up from the anesthesia last Thursday to find out that my surgery had been cancelled. My brain was still so foggy as I came out of the medicine and when I asked the nurse if I was OK (always my first question when I wake up) and she said, “You couldn’t have the surgery” (a really weird look on her face, I remember thinking), I felt so confused.  Was it the anesthesia?  Was I dreaming?  Did the power go out and the back-up generators never came on and they couldn’t do the surgery without electricity?  Did my doctor just get a text that there was a huge sample sale of doctor supplies in the city and he had to scoot out before ablating my tumors? t was all so surreal.

Fast forward to now:  The KACP (kick-ass cancer plan) has been re-written.  I suppose this is all, in the end, that matters, or at least that’s what I wanted to write– but given that the surgeon saw so many more tumors in my liver and that’s why it was cancelled, that actually feels like a pertinent piece of information.

“Dear Universe,” I wrote in my journal after this but before my appointment with my oncologist.  “Please send me a sign that my health and happiness will be OK.  Please show me that I am on the right path.”

(Yesterday out for a walk, I saw a mailbox with “I WIN” in big letters on it.  I laughed realizing that it was supposed to say “Irwin” but the “R” was so faded that all you could see was the I win).  “When we change the way we see things, the things that we see change.” ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer.

About a week or two before this journal entry I had been driving in my car and wondered if I would or could spot a miracle that day.  I was just getting ready to lay my head down on the pillow at the end of the day when my friend M and I were hanging up the phone after a long call, and truth be told, I had forgotten about keeping my eyes open for a shift in perspective or a sign from the universe the rest of the day.

“You’ve suffered enough,” my friend reminded me (after listening to me talk about all the ways I could blame myself for all of the bad things that have happened in my life, because sometimes you just want some kind of an answer, even if it’s you that’s the bad guy, and all the ways that you could be doing more)– “You don’t need to suffer anymore.”

I think this is what we’d call an “Aha! moment” or a “Come to Jesus moment” or at the very least you can picture me with a little light-bulb above my head.  This was my sign.  My miracle.

It is so true, and as she said it, I felt it in my bones; the truth of it, the weight of it, how much I contribute to my own suffering by beating myself up for having energy bites with dairy in them or skipping a day when I easily could have worked out or not feeling like meditating or not being able to keep up with emails and texts when people just want to support me.  When I surround myself with the holistic and spiritual world, I need to remember that I do not need to get it perfectly in order to be living well. I am so.hard.on.myself.  And for what?

I have suffered enough.

So as much as I want to tell you the nitty-gritty about the trauma of being woken up from a surgery that could never happen, about waiting to meet with my oncologist to figure out what the next step would be, about putting everything in a tiny little box marked “Wait and See,” the only thing that now seems truly important is this:

I am done suffering.

I do not deserve it.

It does not support me in my highest efforts to live a joyous life lived without regrets.

I am doing the best that I can.

I had two slices of pizza yesterday.

Wait, what?

Yup.  And they were damn good slices, too. And piled with veggies, which helps just a little bit. And this morning green juice and gluten-free toast and vegan butter.  I am an actual human being made up of all different kinds of emotions, feelings, cravings, thoughts, and beliefs.

I did Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy You Program for 10 days.  Not 21.  I can focus on the 11 days and out of those 11 days the few times I had a cup of coffee or mozzarella in a sandwich but I’d actually much prefer to focus on the fact that I was vegan for 10 days (something that I never, ever thought that I could do), and that I haven’t had meat in almost three weeks.  That the day I had dairy I had to take no lactaid because I hadn’t had it in my system for so long that I didn’t even get sick.  That I now know how to make a kick-ass gluten-free vegan pasta dish with peas.

I don’t want to connect dots anymore that a) don’t need connecting, b) may not even be true in their connecting, and c) make me feel lousy about myself.

The negative self-talk is an obstacle to me living my best life.  And I want as much positivity as possible for the next step in my cancer (hell my life) journey.

So the KACP is in place:  I am beginning an immunotherapy systemic treatment next week. And maybe surgeries again in my future. And maybe not.  A box labeled “We’ll See.” (When you have cancer you kind of have to get used that box being around but put it to the side so that you can focus on the “right here and right now” box that is much, much more important).

And I have no intention of suffering any longer.  Enough is enough. An intention is super important here:  It helps us get specific with what exactly we’d like more or less of in our beautiful, deserve to freakin’ be happy, magical lives.  It reminds us to be aware of our goals without just “going through the motions.”

Today, I promise to be kind to myself, because I believe that my thoughts are just as important as the food that I feed myself. And I know that this intention is something that I will have to be thoughtful about every.single.day.  For the rest of my life. It won’t just resolve itself on its own.  I must work at it.  And so I’d really love to know:  What’s one intention that you can set for yourself today as well?

Change

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~ Dr. Wayne Dyer. xoxo.

 

Colors, Shapes, and Years

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I tiptoe around my broken heart, understanding the fragility, the way that when needed you crack an egg ever so gently against a bowl before letting the guts run everywhere. I realize, only when I can find time to quiet my mind, that I can’t pretend this doesn’t exist anymore.  It seems that with so many distractions these days we amaze ourselves by not holding on to any one emotion for more than a minute at a time, let alone feeling it, processing it, and then healing from it.  And if we admit that our lives aren’t perfect, what kind of doom and gloom will meet us then?  I think about the second I feel like I’m going to break how easy it is to just rock out to a Beyoncé song in the car or turn on the TV and envelop myself in some crazy Real Housewives, or pick up my phone and look at NY Times articles or Facebook feeds—all in order to pretend like my heart is not that cracked stupid fragile eggshell with the guts spilling out everywhere.

I wonder what would happen to my soul if I actually admitted that at times it feels as though my circumstances have completely and utterly demolished me. Would this be surrendering (i.e. giving up) or merely being authentic in a world so filled with faux this and faux that?  Social media has led us to believe that everybody else’s world is filled with perfect black and white photos of the all-American families with 2.5 kids, a dog and a white picket fence.  (And if I can’t post picture after picture of selfies with my kids then I can at least post my travels around the world.  I mean, I need to feel good about myself, right?  In reality I post my vacation pics because I love sharing my joy and passions with others, but I understand how vacation pics can = selfie pics with kids.  Too much of anything can be annoying, I know).  Would I—Could I?—become a happier person if I really let myself grieve for the fact that some others have what I want, what I will never have?

I let myself feel the disappointment in not carrying on a legacy. In not giving my parent’s another grandchild (especially one who lives close by and who they would be so engaged with).  Sometimes I regret not getting pregnant before the cancer spread, but then I think about how difficult it would be to face my own mortality knowing that I had a child (or children) that I may never see grow up.  It is times like these that I am a mess, so confused, so vulnerable, so full of gratitude that I do not have to worry about children, that I can focus my worry solely on the people that already exist in my life who thankfully don’t need me the way that a child needs its parent.  (I am not minimizing how much my husband or family or friends need me, but I understand that “need” may be different than the demands of a child).

It feels like a punishment, at times, and I think of stories that I’ve read where people say “I know somebody with cancer and then this bad thing happened to them and then this happened and you know what? I never heard them complain.”  Um, I’m not going to be that person.  Sorry.  Trying to get pregnant for over a year and spending every other day driving to get your blood taken and then going through IVF and getting pregnant and then having a miscarriage and then being diagnosed with an incurable cancer– oh yeah, no complaints here. I feel like I’m beaten down every month when I get an e-bill to pay for storing my frozen eggs. Not complain?  I’m not going to be become a miserable hermit, but I’m certainly not going to live a life under false pretenses, either.  And this is where my guilt kicks in:  Shouldn’t I just be grateful that I’m alive? As long as I’m breathing– which is more than I can say for others who have had cancer– maybe I should just keep my mouth shut.

But back to that beaten down thing.  I’ve left the door just a crack open on having children  because I haven’t been ready to give up on that dream.  And while that seemed the safe thing to do, and I think that it made sense at the time of the decision, I realize now that hanging out in limbo is actually just slowly crushing my spirit.

I think about my options and how in my line of work I discuss with people how they may not like all of their options, but most of the time we do have them. I hate all of my options.  Not have kids.  Have kids but not with SHL (that isn’t really an option).  Have kids with SHL and have him resent me for the rest of his life and/or be scared that he may have to raise them alone.  Discard my eggs.  Go to a fertility doctor and find out whether or not the eggs are viable, then discard them no matter what.  If they are viable, donate them.  Can’t do it.  As much as I would love to help another couple start a family, I have been through enough pain already and can’t imagine somebody else having my kids.

Yes, I hate all of my options.

But I listen to my gut, and the voice that lives deep down inside of us all has become so much more clear over the last three years of meditation. I now have a much better sense of what my head is telling me and what my heart is telling me.  And this time, both say to let go.  Grieve as if I have lost a limb.  Explain to the world and to other women maybe going through something similar that it is the most unfair thing in the world to wake up one day and literally go from imagining a life where you’re a Mom, to a life where you’re not, all in the blink of an eye, but it cannot (I repeat, it cannot) ruin the rest of your life.  I feel like the rug was pulled out from underneath me and I also feel like nobody can understand.  It is a feeling of deep, deep loneliness.  And I wonder if there are other people out there who have had to give up a dream but who also refused to let it define the rest of their lives. I tell my story because it is the only way I know how to heal, and I tell it in case somebody else needs to hear these words; the words that I wish I could hear from others.

Cancer has taught me an awful lot about life, things that I wish I knew sooner but realize that where I am today, where I stand, is just where I am meant to be (or at least this is what we tell ourselves), nothing to be done about the past (this is true). Things unfold in the most mysterious of ways and I can’t even begin to understand the crumbling, shattering illogical way that things sometimes pan out.  Good people have bad things happen to them.  Bad people have good things happen to them.  And so on.  It reminds me of the book that I read by Rabbi Harold Kushner called “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.”  He wrote it after he lost his son to a horrible disease.  But being honest, I still don’t quite understand why this is the way that things unravel (and though I do believe in g-d, I don’t believe that he has a hand in these terrible things that can happen), and it does feel like unraveling.  Like I’m caught up in a pattern of colors and shapes and numbers that I sometimes just can’t untangle myself from.  The color of death.  The shape of the baby that would have been.  The number of years predicted that I will live.

I refuse to pretend anymore like my heart is not in a million little pieces, but truth be told, I have been grieving over this since the day I was diagnosed; I still remember the room at Dana-Farber, I still remember my doctor telling us that most people with my diagnosis decide not to have children, and I can still feel the stillness of the air as we tried to take in this enormous life-changing piece of information.  It felt like time literally stood still and you could hear a pin drop.

My heart breaks but then I travel and live freely and find deeper and more loving connections with SHL than I ever thought possible and I follow my dreams of manifesting a life for myself where my words somehow have power and somehow, help other people to remember that a dream lost does not represent a life without breath. I have to think that these things may not exist if we had children.   I refuse to pretend like any of the decisions that SHL and I need to make are easy.  But I also refuse to let it crush my spirit, to let it define me as a woman let alone a person, to never live fully because one door has closed.  One dream has closed its eyes, but I have to believe that other dreams are just about to awaken.

who-you-are