It's All in the Details
I read a quote the other day that went like this: "If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering. Suffering is an eradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete. The test then for all of us is how we respond to the suffering in our lives." This was, as I came to find out, from Viktor Frankl's book "Man's Search for Meaning". If you're curious if seeing this quote prompted me to quickly jump online and "add to cart"...the answer is an unrestrained, YES! Clearly I don't have the experience of surviving a concentration camp as did Mr. Frankl, but I can completely understand the need, the importance, of searching for meaning and purpose in life after enduring hardship and extreme suffering. It may seem on the surface that we cancer survivors "battled our way through" and "were so brave and strong" and that we "kicked cancer's ass!". While that is in part the case, I can assure you, cancer has in fact kicked my ass now more than once and the suffering that goes deep and not so noticeable in a Tweet or an Instagram post is real and it runs pretty damn deep. The idea that this author implies that suffering is ok, or that it might give my life even more meaning not only resonates to the very core of my being, but it gives me profound hope.
I've been asked quite frequently lately how I'm doing?! Thank you, by the way, to everyone who has been in my corner. My recent "setback" as I've been calling it for honestly lack of a better word... (having my boob suddenly and shockingly removed because my body once again began attacking itself which is all tied to cancer and the long term treatment effects that are impossible to move past is too long of an intro in my opinion...ha!)...well, this setback has left me feeling "ok'. I'm definitely not great, I"m REALLY trying to be good, but I'm certainly better than terrible. I am giving myself a pat on the back for this state, actually! I've set this goal for myself which is somewhat vague, but in my mind the destination is quite precise. I wish to heal body, mind and spirit so that when it is time to rebuild in the very near future.....as broken as I actually am...I am also as whole as I've been since cancer entered my life. I just giggled out loud thinking of my cancer peeps reading this right now going....how the hell is she going to do THAT? Ha! Well, I don't really know, but I'm making changes and adding details to my daily existence that I feel like are guiding me to where I want to be. I've never claimed to be a roadmap for how to get to the ultimate destination (whatever/wherever that is), but think of me as the trustworthy gal you encounter in a chic café, funky coffeeshop or even the chill watering hole offering you the scenic route to the destination of your dreams. Don't lose sight of all the amazing things you might see, taste and experience along the way that might actually be more adventuresome than where we hope to end up! That's how I'm spinning this anyway. As nice and serene as perfection sounds right now, my mess is kind of beautiful and teaching me some things that are allowing me to feel moments in time in a way that is giving my life a little more meaning. Suffering is allowing me to once again look out the window and smile at the view even though it's not really the view I want for the rest of my days. I returned to running again this week and as my feet pounded the pavement, this profound gratitude that I can still do this for myself consumed me. I felt free, elated and grateful. Had I never experienced two infections in the last three years that made it difficult for me to just get up and walk, I probably wouldn't have felt this workout as such a gift! Suffering = Meaning.
Little details add up to big changes that have the power to set us on the path of ultimate self discovery and healing. In the five days I spent in the hospital a month ago, I realized how shattered I still was/am from all of the shit I've endured in the last few years. Not to say that I haven't grieved, healed and moved on from so much...there just was so much more I wanted to leave alone and just forget about. Not a bad thing, really, but I guess I just felt like it's now time to make amends with some aspects of my life that were brought back to the surface and just aren't serving me now. Done with sweeping them under the rug, time to completely release. My cousin in Idaho reached out to me and is guiding me through Reiki Healing. Her gifted ability to help me peel back layers of these years of trauma and through some work and reflection release them....life saving and life changing. Thank you, Cathy. Through this practice I've been able to identify and acknowledge with certainty the times I've had angels on my side helping and guiding me. This realization has moved me to try to make some amends with God. It's like we've been in a fight for a few years so I'm hesitant, but I decided to try to meet this part of my life that's been so wavering half way. I've been attending one daily mass a week. I hunker in the way back of church and just take it in or get lost in my thoughts. It's me, showing up as I can, holding out that olive branch. For me, this is something. Not only have I put my running shoes back on as I stated earlier, but I've returned to my mat. I got really serious about my yoga practice a month after I was diagnosed with cancer. Covid had me doing this at home, but now that I've had both doses of the vaccine, thank goodness, I safely returned to the studio with a full heart and tears of gratitude. Just walking in the studio, the sights, the smells.....it felt like home. Flashhbacks of my bald head wrapped in a bandana hiding in the candle light were in the forefront of my mind and I felt really safe there now with a lopsided chest and the emotional baggage that I know I can release in this safe space. Thank you, Carmen. I jumped back in at work, because in helping others I feel useful. I've been giving myself permission to rest (huge for me!). I'm hugging a little tighter and laughing much, much louder. I'm purging stuff in closets and I'm planning some fun adventures before my next surgery. I'm doing my best to emerge from the shadows I have been hiding in these past few weeks to really embrace and enjoy the souls that mean so much to me. I am truly viewing each day, good or bad as a gift. So much has been taken from me...so much. It's ok for me to be sad, to be mad, to be ok. I am really healing and I"m also really seeing the big picture here. I know I'm going to be better than ok....because if ok is now and I'm finding some contentment here, the future is going to be out of this world amazing. Thank you for being willing to take the scenic route with me. These little details, I promise, are making the adventure definitely more exciting and absolutely the trip of a lifetime! Thank you for being on this adventure with me and for helping me to create my masterpiece one messy experience at a time.
"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms-to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." -Viktor Frankl