I do not like this level of discomfort, pain, anxiety, fear, anger. The past 2 days I was just so sick of being sick, and I was NOT sick until I started this treatment. What an insane way to make people healthy! I do not like this level of vulnerability, of lack of energy, of inability to get comfortable in one position to even relax. I do not like looking in the mirror, though I am getting more accustomed to it and when I think I look like Treya Wilbur it’s ok.(Book by Ken Wilbur, GRACE AND GRIT)
Tuesday morning I wake up late, after a night with no sleep, having spent much of it in the bathroom, and the rest lying on my bed with a heating pad, trying to get comfortable enough to sleep, and listening to guided imagery and music to calm my agitated mind.
I wake up crying.
I wake up wanting what most souls who are vulnerable and in pain want : I want my mommy. I want Mother. I want Mother’s milk, mothering, nurturing, someone to tell me it’s all going to be ok. Someone to rub my back and sing to me gently, reassure me that I am doing the right thing. My morning text from Cynthia, of a beautiful flower, does help for a moment. I know there is still beauty and hope in the world. I’m just not feeling it right now, and I must allow that.
I am one of the lucky ones who had a relatively normal, relatively functional childhood. (Yes, “relatively” must be used here because it was certainly not without problems or serious moments of insanity on the part of my particular Mother.) But when I was sick, my mother became her most gentle, sweet and self-less self. Yes, she was a Nurse. She was kind and affectionate and knew just how to calm me down—even the time in the hospital when I kept seeing spiders crawling on the walls and was terrified and insisted that she chase each one and kill it—there she was, getting a broom to get rid of my hallucinatory spiders.
When I feel this ill, this out of sorts, this uncomfortable inhabiting my own skin, I want to cry out constantly for the kind of help that will “make it go away,” or at least make it better. To have memory of loving mothering is a gift, I know.
So I turn on Jennifer Berezan’s version of the Sinead O’Connor song on her album HOME: www.edgeofwonder.com
This is to Mother You
This is to Mother you, to comfort you
And get you through
Through when your nights are lonely
Through when your dreams are only blue
This is to Mother you…
Singing and being gentle with my Self IS what makes the difference on these days. I talk to a friend, another nurse, on the phone and as we hang up she says, “Just go read some Mary Oliver.” I hang up smiling after a morning of despair. Of course, this is the time in my life to read soothing poetry, to listen to healing music, to sing my own healing songs, to move my body slowly and rhythmically to inspiring music.
Having the kind of compassion for my SELF that I would have for another is my biggest lesson right now. I am so accustomed to my “lists” of things to do, accomplish, complete. I am such a self-critic when I do not accomplish the things I think I “should” be doing. After all, I am not in the office, I am not “at work”, how can I “waste” such precious time.
And then I remember—healing my self is far from a waste of time.
Healing my SELF IS the work at hand. Always, but now especially.
Compassion for my fatigue, my pain, my weakness, my tears, my fears. This is my work—sitting with all these feelings and allowing them to be present. How many years of spiritual practice has it taken me to get to a moment when I really do have loving-kindness for myself? Many years.
And still I take that breath in and then forget that I am breathing and forget that I am in the midst of the biggest trauma that has happened to my body and soul in my almost 61 years on Earth, and I forget that this IS my suffering and in the moment I can meet it fully and as a friend, as Sylvia Boorstein reminds me.
I compare my tragedy to others and that does not work. I am not wondering if a bomb will explode. I am not wondering where my next meal will come from. I am not afraid that I cannot pay for the kind of healthcare I need. And yet, I am suffering just the same.
I know that there are many many people sending me love and care and kindness and support .
I DO have nurturing and love and tenderness all around me.
There are “experts” in their fields, helping me through this.
And perhaps because of this, I am still shocked, at how difficult it is to have cancer. How difficult it is to feel fine one day and the next day be a “cancer patient.”
How difficult it is, to love oneself fully, to trust one’s ability to swim in uncharted waters, when the fear of the monsters below is so deep.