Are we there yet?
No matter how many books I read on Buddhism, the power of acceptance, or mindful presence, or whatever else is on my current spiritual buffet, I remain with a resounding thought: Are we there yet?
Meaning… am I there yet?
In January (just about two months away!!) I’ll celebrate two years since chemotherapy. Recovery has included every single aspect of myself: mental, spiritual, emotional, financial. And there were times it was painstakingly slow that I cried almost every day. And then there were times it felt like 10 seconds long and I could stand in my present self and be completely shocked that I made it this far out.
Trauma does funny things to your brain, especially when it comes to the passing of time. Things feel like forever and are then over before you can even realize they’re happening. Scott and I often talk about how we feel like we missed 2016 and 2017...they both lasted forever and also went by so freaking fast that even sprinting we never got a chance to catch up. We think back and sometimes can’t even remember what we did or what some of the events were like, which I think could be a good thing. I’m not disappointed to be spared some of the awful memories and experiences.
Recovery has meant two main things to me: patience and acceptance of the impermanence of self (especially in the physical body). I was blessed with many things at birth, but patience is 100% not one of them. Taking things one day at a time is not my nature. So much so, that early on in my recovery I bought myself a bracelet that says “one day at a time” so that I can literally wear it on my wrist. I can’t even count how many times I tried to predict how long it would take me to grow my hair to my shoulders or how long it would take me to put off my chemo weight (yes, public service announcement tons of people GAIN weight during treatment it’s a really common misperception). The impermanence of my physical body has been mind-bending, exhausting, and magical all in the countless moments I’ve had with my body since I became cancer free. Hair, skin, nails, muscle, weight, organs (yes, I never appreciated my organ function blood counts until after I got sick!) all healing themselves and me trying my absolute best to meet them halfway.
I can’t write this post and tell you honestly that I loved my body unconditionally every moment- because that is a garbage lie. Many, MANY tears were shed during recovery. And I’m sure I haven’t seen the last of it. For the whole first year, I was often full of anger, rage even at why did I have to endure this and other people didn’t? And then got further trapped into the shame spiral of “I should be grateful to even be alive and stop complaining” which just made me feell even more like giving up.
I can tell you honestly though what helped me. And the primary thing was that I can hope this patience I’m learning is preparing me for something bigger and better. That I needed this for my future. I’ve been through patience boot camp- 2 years of it. Giving my challenge a purpose has made a difference for me on the days it was everything but easy. My favorite phrase became: everything you’re going through is preparing you for the life you asked for.
Is it true? Ask me in two more years...I’m going to have fun finding out.