For those of you who haven’t read my most recent post, I talked a bit about the mindfulness work I’m doing with my acupuncturist, who has become a sort of spiritual coach to me in the last 3 weeks…
As a homework assignment for my first session, I was asked to create a list of my barriers, limitations, shortcomings, obstacles, etc. I was then asked to reverse every statement I made in the first list. So if the first statement was “I have crippling anxiety”, the converted statement would be “My nervous system helps me to navigate the world safely”, or something along those lines. The goal is to create the space for mental shifts to occur. Affirmations can be extremely helpful in facilitating these shifts, according to every healthy person I know/know of in “theory”. What was especially interesting to me about my list of perceived obstacles and barriers was that my physical health (cancer stuff) only came up twice, out of the mile long list of “limitations”. And both of those things had to do with feeling slightly scared to trust my body again. Which is understandable. I guess I thought cancer would take up more of mental focus since it takes up quite a bit of my every-day life right now (chemo side effects, appointments, etc). Like my acupuncturist said, “This isn’t about the physical for you”, and honestly, that seems to be reflective of my experience. I’m not symptomatic, I have not felt sick from cancer, I have felt more “sick” from the horrible self talk in my head than I ever have from cancer. This was really exciting for me to recognize, because I now know where my healing focus needs to be. Obviously continuing to focus on nourishing my body as best as I can, continuing to exercise as much as chemo-fatigue allows, and resting as much as I need to are all good things. But I believe my real task is to work through, process, and let go of the stuff that I’ve been carrying with me in my abdomen and chest (that’s where my stress-response clenching lies) for a long time. This requires honesty. Compassion. Empathy. Forgiveness.
Aside: It seems appropriate that I’m bald right now, with all this new Buddhist-Ish stuff I’m getting myself into…. 😉
Chemo is teaching me a lot. It’s teaching me how to be more gentle with myself. It’s teaching me just how much I struggle in listening to my body, operating from a place of worthiness, rather than a place of punishment (even on chemo! Clearly I have some beliefs that require some attention). It’s teaching me that I am more than my physical identity. I look different. My eyes look dull and vacant to me. My body is not toned in the way that it was before I began this bi-weekly poisoning. My hair is gone, I’m veinier than normal. My physical self is just different, and that’s been hard. It’s difficult to look like a penis when you’re used to looking something like a woman. Chemo is teaching me how much pressure I’ve always put on myself to look “together”, and I’ve caught myself multiple times getting worked up over how I’m going to look when going out in public, nevermind the fact that my “public” is going to the doctors office, and who the HELL cares about how I look there? (I’m not planning on meeting my soul mate, lets be honest….And I’m realizing that my soul mate won’t give a shit about how I look in comparison to my fundamental truths like my sensitivity, my intelligence, my depth. Because I’m beginning to give less and less shits about the way I look. No makeup. No wig. Just caps and my bare face. And that feels incredibly liberating). Detachment from my physical self is probably one of the healthiest lessons I could begin to learn at this time.
It seems there’s a part of me that does still trust in my bodies innate wisdom-the wisdom that allowed my rash on my mastectomy scar to come to the surface, which triggered all the tests, which led to my most recent diagnosis. I’m working on trusting that my body knows exactly what to do in order to heal itself (that’s one of my affirmations). ✨
I feel grateful to be here on the 2nd of January, 2017.