I made a promise to myself, that I would really love me, invest in me, nurture me, heal me. Part of this means not being as available and giving as I was before, or so I initially thought, but then maybe I am learning that in giving you receive and in receiving you give. If it’s a mutual exchange and it benefits both parties and can’t be a bad thing can it ?
I have read so many times that you need to love yourself and how not valuing yourself can hinder how you heal. Today was an observation of this chapter perhaps ?
I met a woman today at the cancer centre I volunteer at, after I’d been topped up with restorative energy from a treatment myself. She was angry and I mean angry. Her rage reached across the room and struck you in the face even before she spoke. She’d completed treatment for breast cancer and was furious, understandably. Anger can be a useful emotion, however she was angry with herself ,even more than the cancer itself, now that’s destructive.
Initially she batted off the advice we gave her, you could feel her thinking, well that’s ok for you, but I don’t deserve that, or that won’t work for me and she even said my life is over. She refused therapies and refused to make any time for herself as work came first and then the stress of family life. For me, so raw after finishing treatment and seeing others not completing their treatment as cancer beat them, this kind of statement can make me feel conflicted. There is a part of me that wants to fight her fire with fire and be like what ? Have you any idea of what you are saying and how lucky you are ? And then there is my more rational, detached professional approach, that appraises the words and their meanings and responds to them. She is deeply shocked, she is struggling with the fact she feels weakened and resentful. The cancer diagnosis is forcing her to face these feelings and she has lived her life previously detached, it’s how she coped. She is totally bereft and missing the person she was before and trying to hold on to that.
Reading this statement and listening to her words help me to reflect on how far I have evolved as a person on my journey, and whilst she could sit there and say what do I know, I know that I have worked incredibly hard on accepting myself and loving myself, in the same way I’ve got back in the gym and started rebuilding those muscles. Loving yourself is so important and I think talking to someone who picked faults in her life and even though had undergone life preserving treatment didn’t value it, she needed helped. She asked me how I felt after losing my breast, and so I shared that I was afraid before the surgery, and had chosen to send of my boob with a party and prepared by buying new clothes. That I wanted to see my new body as soon after surgery as possible to be able to embrace it as I knew it would be like this for a long time if not forever. That over time I have grown to love my scar and one day put my hand on my bony chest and felt my heart beating and rationalised that maybe losing my left breast made my heart more available and not so closed, sure it’s showing vulnerability, isn’t this a good thing ? I think I was a little (lol) closed and wearing armour before.
I told her it would be easy for me to pick faults in me, to fill my head with negative statements about being undesirable or odd, but I’d chosen instead to love me, I am alive, isn’t that more important than whether I am perceived physically attractive or not ? Don’t get me wrong we all have a degree of vanity, but my chosen coping strategy was simple in my mind, my breast was diseased they removed it. This woman had not lost her breast and for a moment I wondered how she might feel if she was in my shoes, I considered how I’d feel in hers, detected at an early stage and minimal treatment, I’d be whooping it up and thinking what a lucky escape I had. I’m not sure if she tried my shoes on at that exchange, whether the more extensive treatment I had and not so favourable outcome made her think. Perhaps it did, as she remarked that I had had a tough time of it , to which I smiled and assured her that I hadn’t and that I’ve lived through this, I’ve continued to do things and not let it restrict me and I’ve celebrated being alive. Of course there are bad days, but my bad days aren’t wishing it would end or thinking my life is over, they are more fearful that I won’t have enough time to do all that I want or need to.
To summarise as I’m sure I’m coming off my original track, you do have options in life and there is nothing wrong with feeling a full spectrum of emotion, but focusing on destroying yourself after cancer and it’s treatments have already attempted that is not so favourable. We all need help and support, there are no prizes for being a stand alone hero in this battle. It was my concious decision to help myself along the way, to accept help from sources too, and this has really helped me. Any more help I can add in here ?
I hope that we have helped her today, she left slightly lighter, with a bottle of Bach remedies, some positive affirmations and an appointment card, what she also needs is a punch bag or physical release for all her anger yet she had a million excuses to why she can’t do that. You have to want things to change, for things to stop, it has to be at a point where you say I cannot continue like this sometimes before you reach out for help, I think that was her today and I’m glad i was there to help. She helped me too ….she made me realise my thought processes, that I still have work to do on myself , but also how much I have learnt about myself and helped myself and when I put my hand on my heart to demonstrate my love for myself I really felt it and meant. Sighs – could it be possible ? Am I really in love with myself ? I think we are at the first flutterings of love.
Alison is in a committed relationship with herself.