It has been an interesting week, for sure…one that took me somewhat by surprise on this rollercoaster of emotion. The biggest one this week, fear.
Last Friday, January 29th, I travelled to Calgary for my first chemo treatment with a good friend by my side. A few days prior it suddenly struck a panicked fear into my being that I would be alone at home my first weekend after chemo, not knowing how my body would respond to the drugs. I didn’t want to be alone, I was most definitely afraid, and I did something that is difficult for me – I called for help. I asked one of my most dear friends if she would come and have a girl’s weekend (who wouldn’t want to be invited to one of those immediately following a first chemo treatment? Who-hoo! Party Party!). Without hesitation she was there for me and I found myself in tears at feeling so honoured and blessed to have such caring people in my life that I can call on when needed. She is not the only one, and I don’t dare begin to try to give examples and list those friends that have come to my side in this past year…especially these past months, weeks and days.
Friday morning started in a way that gave me pause once again at how what I need comes to me in the times I need it most…upon turning the radio on for my shower the first lyrics I heard were “I am not afraid”, the next ones that came into focus were “You are not alone”, and the third song that now escapes me was also one encouraging my, inspiring me and supporting my start to a day requiring my courage and determination to face. And the Friday I felt like I was ok…great even. The weekend came and went without any nausea or exhaustion, appetite was good, maybe a wee bit of blurriness for my vision and slight rawness on my tongue, but had I not know better I would have almost accused the cancer centre of just giving me a saline drip….perhaps with a few bits to make me a little slurry & sleepy though.
I am not Wonder Woman and things have caught up to me. I have been teary and blue the last few days. I am becoming aware that I still have not allowed myself to fully feel the sadness, grief and frustration of having cancer, going through treatments, and knowing that my body is still in for more torture and, though I work to deny it, humiliation. I have been told that in 2 – 3 weeks my hair will likely fall out, I have seen the weight on my scale increase substantially almost instantly (thinking from the steroids I was on for first few days….working to avoid the negative body image messages and focus instead on where my beauty lies in spirit and smile), and feeling a little overwhelmed with trying to find the best way to support my body over the next 17 weeks. I am now searching for a new roommate as the one I have been privileged to share my home with for almost a year begins a new chapter moving forward in her life (yes, happy for and ready to celebrate the step with her but thinking it sucks to be me).
Today I ponder….just how much am I meant to learn in this life and how much character must I show? How strong must I be? And even allow myself to think, long enough to allow the tears to flow, energy to become unblocked and the information that my emotions give me, how will I get through this next few months? I will allow myself the opportunity to be hugged and let the tears flow when needed. I will accept the strength and help offered me, and I will begin to understand that I really don’t have to do this all on my own…and in fact know that I haven’t been.
And again, even as I allow myself the opportunity to fall to pieces, feel a little crushed and shattered, I hear the music rise within me again. It is breaking through the muddy darkness, allowing those bottled up fears of the physical changes, energy required, focus on the end goal, care of self, fear of screwing up with my nutrition or whether I should rest or walk or get out of the house to live and enjoy life or take care of my lowered immune system or listening to my body or pushing through or saying no thank you when I need to or pushing myself out of the victim bubble and turtling vs being aware of need for hand sanitizer vs becoming a hypochondriac and the fear that I am too over-sensitive at the moment or won’t be a friend to others when they need it as opposed to just a drain on them to being real to understanding what the hell I am feeling or needing at the moment. Apparently this music within me has no volume control as at times it screams with confident exuberance and others it cries in quiet need….but it is there. This is my new soundtrack….for the next portion of my journey.
So, now comes choice again. Yes, choice. What an amazing gift that life brings us through that. Today I choose…..
- Allow myself to feel, understand, express and work through the bubbling emotions in an authentic way that will allow me to then break free of the energy required to repress them and build my spirit anew.
- Surrender to the knowledge that all will happen when it needs to (like the new potential roommate that will soon come to view my home; the Victory Program that will assist in covering the cost of an expensive drug to build my blood counts up again during my treatment; the friend that will contact me out of the blue on a day when needed most; the shared belly laughter that has always been such a part of my life, the company over a meal; the Canadian Cancer Society wig lending program and friend that took me there; the friends that have come into my life to share their experience, support and understanding; and the fact that sometimes tears will need to roll and the knowledge that TEARS ARE OKAY!).
- I choose to understand that my fear, if I allow the tears to come I will become stuck and not have the strength required to get through this, is unfounded. It is allowing the emotion to break through that will then allow me to rebuild with purpose and the additional strength found when I am not working so hard to dam everything back.
And most of all, today I choose to live my life with authentic vulnerability!
I choose to let those in my life know what they mean to me and that I appreciate them. I choose to live in the moment and enjoy each moment for what it is. I choose to remember that, even when the feces is no longer figurative, good or bad, this too shall pass.
And these building blocks on my journey are what will allow me to LIVE life as opposed to letting it pass by day by day.
My wish for you is that you may recognize and utilize your own building blocks as we journey together.