Years ago, as my first marriage was imploding, I remember thinking, “If I can just get through this, my life is going to be so much better!” Years later, as divine order would have it, I met the love of my life: a man who brings me boundless joy every day.
I found myself in similar shoes on November 1, 2017, when I received a diagnosis of breast cancer. What I remember most when the radiologist confirmed my illness was simply wanting to be in that moment. I thought, Please, God, let me be present. Whatever this journey is going to be, it’s going to be. Just let me be present in each moment as it unfolds. Pretty lofty thought at a time like that, right? Yeah. I didn’t do that.
I mean, I tried…and sometimes I was able to be present. But a significant amount of time was consumed with fear: fear of the unknown…the medical unknown. Which, for me, was a new experience.
I’ve been blessed with excellent health. The last time I had surgery was a tonsillectomy when I was four. My brother was six and we did it together, so it was kind of a party…and there was ice cream! So…surgery…score!
After my mastectomy, I spent the holidays healing in stillness, never more aware of the mind, body, spirit connection. I hold my body as a sacred temple, and during those times when everything feels out of control, the one thing I know I can do is honor her. I can make sure she eats well and exercises, and I am grateful for all the things she does for me on a daily basis. It makes me feel we have an agreement: I’ll take care of you; you’ll take care of me.
Except, suddenly I didn’t feel she was holding up her end of the bargain. I was actually feeling, physically, really fit and ready for what was next…sort of. But if I were being really honest, something was missing.
Going through some files in my attempt to get organized before my first surgery, I discovered a prayer I’d written a year before, titled “Pathways to Possibility.” Included in this prayer was the acknowledgment of “a big toxic shock living in my body. An assault to my soul. A deep sadness that permeates my cells.” What did my unconscious know?
I knew that I had been experiencing an intense period of loss. My best friend died of lymphoma, my father passed after a prolonged illness, my brother dropped dead suddenly and unexpectedly, and my elderly mother was a source of relentless stress as I tried to care for her from 3,000 miles away.
The assault to my being came in the form of soul-crushing realizations that my family foundation was not what I’d thought it was. There are always deeper truths to discover when trauma rattles the framework. And our framework had been severely rattled.
But that phone call was the invitation to my next chapter if I was willing to look at my complicity in the dysfunction of my own life. If I was willing to let my family off the hook for not living up to my expectations. If I was willing to let go of the anger and hurt, the feeling of not being seen that was literally making me sick.
It was clearly time to take responsibility for my reactions to what I perceived as other people’s transgressions. To shine the light on my own behavior and stop the victim cycle. You can’t open the door to new possibilities with your arms full of yesterday’s garbage.
Every personal crisis is an invitation from Spirit to live a better life. I believe healing happens when pain and suffering hit critical mass. When there’s no escape, when surrender is our only choice. Not giving up, but surrendering to what is. Surrender is how we maintain our power. Surrender is what puts us in the driver’s seat of our lives.
We learn to not show our vulnerability, fearing it’s a sign of weakness. But I believe vulnerability is where we come together in recognition of each other’s authentic essence. Would I have consciously chosen the events of the last five years? No. But they happened. So how do I make those events serve the greater whole that is my life? By knowing the power of my truth and the truth of my power.
I trust my body to do the healing. I trust my heart to find the strength. I trust my angels to keep me safe. I trust the doctors to guide me well. And I trust the universe that there is treasure here. Treasure to serve me all the days of my life.