When the bubble burst, it turned out it was a boil. All that was hidden and unspeakable, the unlovely and unloved, spilled out and flooded our country.
For the past three years, I have agonized, feared, stressed, resisted, and avoided the horror. I suffered. Until this week, when I began to see.
Not many people knew I had cancer while I was in treatment. The diagnosis was a psychological shock, a wound, and what I needed was protection from others who would rip the scab off or throw me off my hard-fought balance each time I scraped together a patch of untroubled mind. It wasn’t malice on their part, more curiosity or a duty to display concern. But a couple of those who knew commented that I was “taking it well.”
Recently, now that the episode mostly feels behind me, another friend told me I had handled it well. Again I replied, “There was no choice — you have to take it well or you make yourself sicker.”
“But you did have a choice,” said the friend. “You chose the light.”
Of course I had a choice, a stark one — get better and live, or get sicker and experience more of that and whatever it might lead to. The point was, I accepted the lesson, accepted a responsibility for what was happening to me — because of health and lifestyle decisions, by trying to do what I thought others expected of me, by pushing myself too hard when I was tired because others were doing as much and more. Even if none of that was the cause, there were the unavoidable stresses and shocks of life. Or maybe it was just something my soul needed to experience in order to learn, in order to go further in this life.
Feeling bitter and victimized would not make me well.
Now I’ve had enough of suffering from the news and finally made the connection. All the stress and worry were jeopardizing my health and peace of mind. You know what I’m talking about — disaster politics, climate change, acts of hatred and violence and spite. Clicking on a headline for a little frisson of horror is not worth the effect on my mental and physical well-being.
We need the treatment, we need science, legal remedies, sound policies and protest. But first it’s recognizing our part in what has come about. It’s accepting the consequences will play out for a long time to come before the tide turns.
While I had the medical treatment I also had people sending me healing. I credited the healing with keeping me calm and helping me cope, but when I hear others with a similar diagnosis talk about their experiences, I realize I had fewer of the symptoms and complications from the treatment and I recovered from the fatigue more quickly.
It took me over a year to consciously let the healing in, to dare to accept the love and compassion, to remove the barriers and allow myself to feel it. This was the beginning of the real healing.
We’ve all seen the black and white yin and yang symbol, signifying the polarities as part of a whole. Positive and negative, light and dark. We know that life is made up of these “opposites.”
How can you know light if you don’t give the darkness its due, acknowledge its right to exist? Life is not divided into two parts. It is all one.
A coworker spoke of “fighting” the cancer. “No,” I said,” I am gently overcoming it,” and thought to myself, “I am adding more light.”
And so, all that is unlovely, all that I reject in society, all that repels me, frightens me, all that I resist must first be accepted as part of the whole and not fought. And then we add more light.
We need action, yes, but I believe the only real solution is a spiritual one.