I had surgery two days ago. While it went well, there are still unknowns in my situation. After returning home last night I found the following writing from the week before surgery. I decided that rather than hide it in my computer, I need to share it because I do not want to gloss over this very important part of getting a “Cancer” diagnosis, or any other devastating experience. I am grateful that the feeling passed, yet I know that it might try to creep back into my spiritual world, and so I want to share this experience with you now.
Yesterday, Despair came to visit me. I didn’t know I had given it a key, but apparently I left one under the doormat. I had been feeling ok about my situation. I felt that I could ‘deal’ with it, and overcome it. However, yesterday I had an interaction with someone regarding a test I have scheduled today. The test scans my whole body for the spread of cancerous cells. The surgeon wanted to know before surgery if the cancerous cells were only in my leg, or if they had moved in somewhere else too. When I set up the appointment they told me they would inject me with a radioactive dye (a sugar). When I heard this I felt a twinge of ‘icky’…however, I put it out of my mind and kept moving forward. Yesterday morning someone expressed fear for me regarding this test, its radioactive nature (both in the dye and the test itself) and suggested I call the surgeon and ask if I can have the test after the surgery. I called. The woman said she would ask the surgeon and get back with me.
During the hours of waiting to hear back, I had decided that I didn’t want the test before surgery. I wanted to focus on preparing my body and mind for that physical trauma, and the removal of the huge mass in my leg. Radioactivity could wait. However, when I got the call back from the Dr., he said that while it was my choice, he wanted the test so he could know exactly what was going on within my entire body before he cut into it. I felt a wave of surrender in my body, yet not the good kind. I immediately calculated that I did not want to go against this surgeon’s desire at this point. I wanted him to give his best as he was working on me, and so I said “Ok, I will suck it up.” That is when Despair slipped through the front door.
The day that this scan will take place is today, the Spring Equinox. In my spiritual path, it is one of the 8 sacred days of the year. It is one of the two days of balance, the balance between the light and dark. The thought of me being injected with enough radioactive substance that I will be poisonous to children and pregnant women for two hours after, on the Day of Balance, was very depressing to me. This is not how I wanted to spend Spring Equinox. The combination of me deciding to succumb to the surgeon, and poisoning my body on Equinox, overwhelmed me with hopelessness.
As I lay in bed the rest of the day, going back and forth between crying and feeling numb, I realized that I was familiar with this experience. It has had a key to my inner house for a while. I was familiar with the feeling that I was not in control of what was happening, that I had to ‘bend my will’ to a greater force (whatever the force was at the moment), and that I had to ‘suck it up’. This recognition waved over me and it felt horrible. I began to think ‘who cares’ and ‘it doesn’t matter’. Logically I know that everyone has this feeling and that it doesn’t mean that I suck, however, emotionally…I felt pathetic.
I remembered a book I had read right before hearing that cancer is in my body. It is called “The Hero Within” by Deborah Grassman. As a hospice nurse for 30 years she had helped many people come to terms with their untended self as they died. She speaks of the practice of “Abiding” with self and other. To abide means to be completely present with the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of ourselves, and the part of us who feels these things (especially the Ugly parts). I allowed myself to tune in to this ugly part of me. There is a part of me that feels that people will judge me as weak, or that I ‘manifested’ this experience and are thereby worthy of judgement by those with “holier than thou” attitudes, ultimately that I am a failure. I am in a community of people that are all about being natural, healthy and evolved. This is a beautiful thing, except when one does not feel these things in the moment. The feeling that I self-sabotaged myself by creating this experience in my life, felt very icky and made me feel angry at myself, to the degree that I felt I don’t deserve a good life. I screwed it up for myself so I don’t deserve autonomy and cannot will myself into a better position. My mother was very worried about me but I told her she needed to leave me alone. When my mother finally left last night, at my insistence, I lay in the dark alone. I thought that maybe I just wouldn’t get out of bed until I had to suck it up and go get poisoned on Spring Equinox. However, I do have plenty of experience with depression in my past, and another part of me knew that doing this would only hurt my situation, so I got up out of bed… and watered the garden.
Today I woke up before the sun rose. I felt that there was a part of someone else inside me, that I had taken into me. A part that didn’t belong and that I needed to release, let go, ask to leave. (In my shamanic tradition it would be said that I needed an “extraction”). This “spirit” of someone else is related to the feeling of despair. I drummed for myself and followed what started to happen in my mind. I journeyed to purgatory to find an essence of this spirit. When I found it, we both traveled up to a field of flowers. The one from purgatory unlocked my third chakra and drew out another part of this spirit that had been residing in me for a couple years. I then washed my third chakra with flower energy. I changed the beat and traveled up a tall mountain to my lungs. I told them that they don’t need to suffer for me. Birds came and pecked away at suffering and flew the pieces out of my body. Then I came back to this world and began to write. The line “despair came to visit” was ringing in my head.
This morning I received an email from a wonderful man who has healed himself from prostate cancer, and during his healing process he has become my friend. I had reached out to him in my despair madness yesterday. He shared a few tips from his own experience. One was “there is no obligation to be someone for anyone anytime” and another was “learn to love your experience, even if you feel like cussing at it”.
Today is Equinox. In a few hours I will get the scan that the doctor wants, and that will tell me the status of my body at this time. I guess my lesson today is how to find balance in a situation that is undesirable and to not fall into despair when I feel out of balance. I only suffer when I resist. As the Borg said “Resistance is Futile”, so I won’t resist.
I was looking at the website for the Insitute of Noetic Sciences and found this article. It is about “unexpected remission of cancer” but the ideas discussed are helpful for all as we assess our Soul Care needs for adjustments towards peace, balance and healing.
(I was scheduled to drum with a couple friends for Equinox in the evening after my test, but in my despair mode I cancelled. After the test I decided that it would be better medicine to meet with people who care about me and drum for healing and balance. The link below is an audio file of what we created together. Maybe it will be helpful to you. Flute by Dee. Drummers are Elisabeth, Dee, Sue Ellen and Quynn.)
Thank you for listening.
Dangerous Despair-Shamanism and Cancer