Trust

Leaving my job took some balls. I was raised in a home where you better just take what you can get and deal with it. Just think of all those people out there who are unemployed and/or homeless. You don’t want to be one of them do you?

We are conditioned to believe that we need to work hard for everything. If you are not exhausting yourself by the end of the day, you are capable of doing more. If you see things that you don’t like at your workplace, you are to shut up and keep your nose to the grindstone. Don’t stand out. Don’t be a target.

In your list of priorities, a lot of people might say they put “God” or their family first, but take a look at the time and energy they spend on things and work is really the their first priority. This is conditioned from a very early age. My parents both worked. My parents would justify their dedication at work as their method of supporting us. I could even almost understand it if their work really filled their passions, but it didn’t. They were distracted. Sometimes it was a pleasant distraction, but it didn’t really fulfill them.

I don’t recommend that people just quit their jobs when they get frustrated or angry. I do recommend that if you find that what you are doing is not serving you, to honestly consider trying something else. Let yourself be inspired to move towards that which brings you real joy and fulfillment. You might not even know what that means right now, but just asking yourself the question is a start.

One thing that I have gained is time. At first, when you are not used to taking time to be with yourself, it can feel unpleasant. Many people pack their day with activities to avoid being with themselves and dealing with their baggage. With the lack of activity, it is easy to hear your fear based thoughts and develop anxiety over the future.

I find that I have gotten better with this over the years, but there is always going to be a part of you that will have a foot in the past or a little concern over how what you are doing might be perceived by others. I have been working on focusing on myself and not giving a rip about what other people think. It is hard to not feel guilty about doing this because I have been taught that being “selfish” is a bad thing. Really, the only way you can thrive and help others is be being “selfish.”

When you allow yourself enough space to separate yourself from the noise of the world, you can focus on your needs more clearly. I have time to focus on what I am most curious about. I have time to follow my interests. This allows you to develop some clarity on who you really are.

Our journey on this planet is based on us wanting to learn and grow. It is supposed to be fun. Just the fact that we are here and breathing makes us worthy. If we are attracted to a way of life, or when we see something we authentically desire, the Universe says okay, it is done. Abraham Hicks says that our rockets of desire deliver our manifestations in a sort of vibration escrow until we raise our vibration to match our desires. We don’t have to necessarily have to be asking consciously, it is automatic. We determine what we really want in the contrast of our lives. What we need to do is to figure out how to raise our vibrations to the point of allowing.

My main focus in this time has been how to raise my vibration. How can I fill myself with more joy? As my self-worth has increased, I realize that I want to take care of myself better. I want to feel at my optimal. I want to tune my instrument so I sound better when I am played because I know that I am worth it.

As I look for ways to raise my vibration, I have also found myself working through old bad tape. I often find that when I visit with Max and Alex, I feel comfortable enough to start examining areas of my life that don’t feel as good. Sometimes this is just in a conversation, but I also meet a lot of my fears when we are dressing up in drag.

As you can imagine, it takes some balls for a man to dress up in women’s underwear and prance around in heels. Yeah, some queens make it look natural, but the truth is that you have to confront all the stereotypes and negativity that you perceive others to have toward your art. It questions your sexuality, your sanity. As an overweight girl who has identity issues of her own, it can equally be as scary.

When I relax and submit myself to the process, I have to often confront my own fears and insecurities. I have noticed that I am completely overly sensitive to touch. Yes, I have been celibate most of my life and I am sure that it plays a role. I haven’t been touched much as an adult, and I feel like I was often neglected as a child in the touch department. Touch might be a sensory overload. Still, when I feel overwhelmed, there is a more carnal fear. I worry for my safety and go crazy.

After a recent freak out, Max asked if I had ever been sexually assaulted. My immediate answer is no. I haven’t been kidnapped. I haven’t been raped. I didn’t have relatives touch me inappropriately, so no. When I think about when I might have had similar freak out sessions to touch in my life, there is a set of experiences that do come to mind.

In middle school, I was a fat awkward little girl. I had boobs before most of the other girls in my class. In some way, I must have also known that I didn’t like boys. I know I was a really easy target. Leave it to a hand full of guys on my bus to focus in on me. They called me “Titanic.” From the second I got on the school bus, to the moment I got off, I was harassed by these guys. I was often fondled by them, called names, had horrible pranks played on me, you name it.

It went on for three years. During that time, no teacher or school administrator ever did anything. I told no one. It was pervasive enough that I knew adults saw it happening. Their lack of interest in confronting them, only lead me to believe that the students had more power than the adults. I didn’t mention it to my parents, because they were big bullies to me too. My mom had told me previously that if someone was being mean to me, it was my fault. My father made fun of my weight all the time. I felt like they didn’t have my back.

As an adult, I feel I should be over it. I never thought of it as sexual assault, even though it had aspects of unwanted touch and coercion, because it wasn’t “bad” enough. I had assumed that these incidents were only meant to humiliate me. I attached my self worth to what they thought of me. I didn’t feel that they desired me sexually. Maybe I did ask for it by just being that ugly.

What I have come to realize is that it was abuse. The fear they instilled in me still lingers. I learned so well from my bullies that I became my biggest bully. I believe this is how other sexual assault victims must feel like.

My intention in telling this story isn’t to rehash the emotion of it, but to understand why my primary responses are what they are. I am trying to confront the old tape and you have to be able to look at that initial old tape honestly. I didn’t deserve to be teased. I didn’t deserve to be assaulted. Now that I understand that I am worth better treatment, I have to confront one key aspect of my damage: trust.

Trust is the faith that ultimately everything is coming out of a place of love. Fear can’t exist in an environment of love. We trust because we have to. We feel better when we do.

Too often, we let past experiences or the acts of a few people destroy our capacity for trust. I believe that most people show their true colors early, and it is okay to reserve our trust for people who have proven themselves trustworthy. But for those of us with huge trust issues, we can find people who we trust and still hesitate to give them trust because of our fear of being screwed over.

As Alex was draping me with some fabric for a dress, he took out sharp shears to trim off some of the access. The entire time I was filled with fear. I was terrified of being cut which makes it so much easier for one to cut you. Alex had made sure that his hand was in the way, so if anyone were going to be cut, it would be him. He made sure to be extra careful. Besides, he had done this before with success.

I trust Alex and Max more than I trust anyone else in the world, but I couldn’t surrender. The fear backed up till I couldn’t take it anymore and I exploded in tears and protests. I was overwhelmed by emotion.

Fear is incompatible with anything you really want. It is our emotional guidance system letting you know that you are far out of alignment with how Source views the situation. Yet, it can emotionally hijack you. Your body courses in all sorts of chemicals, endorphins and hormones. Your body resorts to the primitive fight or flight response.

You can just let yourself get enveloped in the situation and break off friendships or vow never to do certain things again to try an avoid an unpleasant response, or you can try to check yourself out of the emotion and try to examine it as a third person. When you know a response is crazy, and have the ability to stand back and really reflect on what is going on objectively. This process really helps provide one with clarity. I knew immediately what I did not want, so I can now see what it is that I do want and walk closer to it.

I have noticed that when I am fed and have been fairly stable up to this point, I can separate myself from the experience to mine the nuggets I need for growth. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have a melt down from time to time, but it shortens its duration and allows for a quicker and more long lasting recovery.

I used to not trust that I could have a mini-meltdown without alienating myself from others. I used to be so embarrassed and used these incidents as a way to shame spiral for weeks. Once you can establish that you are a good person, no matter what, and you have developed a team of people that you can trust to be vulnerable with, you can overcome what ever it is that you need to.

This experience led me to focus on an area that I want to improve in my life: trust. Although I know that I feel better while doing it, I am still not where I need to be to improve my vibration. Besides, I don’t want to live the rest of my life always being convinced that someone is around the corner, just wanting to screw me over. Life is too short to waste good energy on that.

I noticed something else from this incident. As I distrusted the process of the shears coming at me and the person behind it, I created the right atmosphere to deliver exactly what I feared. If my worst fear was being cut, my trembling only produced fear in the person trying to perform the act, which could lead to more mistakes. Really, what was the worst that could happen? Be cut? Even if I was, it wasn’t going to really hurt me. Some people knowing that they even feared this outcome would prevent themselves from even being in that situation. This might produce a temporary comfort, but missing out on the experience prevents one to benefit from addressing one’s fears and from enjoying the fruits of getting beyond the fear.

Aren’t we taught that we should always be striving for perfection? Anytime we fall short, haven’t we been taught that failure is the worst outcome possible? Aren’t we told that if we can’t do something perfectly, that we shouldn’t try at all? In reality, failure is the only way to find success. We often have to figure out what doesn’t work so that we know what does work. Great thinkers often produce 1000s of bad experiments, drafts, or products before they get the one breakthrough that changes everything.

People often say that they may have trusted someone or something and then one thing occurred that made them question their trust. Because their trust was no longer perfect, they decide that they have to refrain from trusting in order to preserve themselves. Their lack of trust just attracts more incidents to cement their distrust. It can create so much fear that people just cower in their beds.

What I am learning is that trust is the belief that, more often than not, the Universe is only interested in our well-being. Trust is excepting that the major energy at play in our life is on our side. Trust is believing that you are worthy and that we are all connected. Trust is believing that other people are for the most part good. Trust is believing that we are all connected. Trust is believing that what we are called to do, what we are inspired to create, is worthwhile. Trust is knowing that what you need in this life will be provided for you. Trust is knowing that the core of this Universe is love.

When we can accept this, when we can believe that we can trust, we relax. Things will happen organically. Life is easier. We enjoy ourselves more because we are not constantly looking over our backs. Our energy is free from being rerouted to counter fear. All of a sudden, we have an abundance of energy to focus on things that are aligned with our true power. We allow ourselves to become aligned with who we really are. We become aligned with our true self, which extends beyond our physical manifestation. We realize that we don’t have to fear death, because there is no such thing. Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. We are eternal.

Once you are more clear about who you are and why you are here, you can start to see others in the same way that Source views them. Other people are kinder to you. Your relationships become deeper. You learn to love yourself and others. You realize that there is more that unites us than divides us.

The trick is when you decide to have full faith in the Universe, and in yourself, do not lose it if you see a slight flaw. When someone you trust messes up, how can you learn to forgive? How can you learn from the contrast? The trick is when you trust, it needs to be unconditional. You need to allow room for us to be human, to make errors. Often, what we perceive to be a mistake is actually a good thing. Most things that happen in life are neither good nor bad. They are just a necessary part of the journey. Although we might not be able to understand the significance in that moment, often such incidents are meant to push us toward what we really want.

I trust that the best part of my story is still ahead of me. I trust that I am right where I am supposed to be. I trust that there are really no mistakes. I trust that no matter what, I will be okay.

Making One’s Self Miserable

It is easy to wake up and stub your toe getting out of bed to just proclaim that your day is going to suck. Law of Attraction states that you are just setting yourself to attract to more negative energy because your are already vibrating at that level. You can know that is what is going on and still be stuck in the wheel of suck. Once you are on that roller coaster, it is so hard to get off.

I have been feeling my energy slip. I feel like I am in a weird sort of limbo. I am done with my treatment. I don’t have to work this summer. I should be having fun, soaking it all up. Instead, I have been having a hard time getting out of bed. I just go through my news feeds and see how everyone else is living their life. I am bored. The weather is beautiful, and I don’t want to go outside. I break down in tears for no real reason. I find myself getting embarrassed with myself. I chide myself. I try to keep it to myself, but the emotion just keeps bursting out at the wrong times.

What is going on?

I had my life put on hold for nearly a year. During that time, all I focused on was treatment, staying positive, and focusing on having fun. Now that I am in recovery, I am worried about returning to the unsatisfying life I had beforehand where everyone else’s wishes and desires trumped my own. I blocked out my needs. I denied myself nourishment for both my body and mind. I felt alone, isolated. I know that if I return to that lifestyle, (ignoring my inner calling, fearing every move I make, insisting that I am not worthwhile) I will not make it.

When you have lived most of your life in that negative thought pattern, recognizing it and disrupting it is not easy. Your muscle memory makes it the easiest choice sometimes. I have been doing so much better. I can monitor my emotional guidance system and steer it in the right direction with practice. Yet, things that have deep emotional baggage or triggers can overwhelm my system quickly.

I have one thing that I know I need to do this week, and I haven’t been able to do it. I have to call my mortgage company and find out how much longer I can stay in my house. I need to know so I can arrange a move-in date for my new apartment, order a moving van, hire movers, pack, and prepare. Unfortunately, I just feel stunned and unable to dial the phone number.

I decided back in December that I needed to rethink my living arrangements. My house needs work. I have no money to fix appliances that are broken. I don’t have the physical energy or the tools to cut my yard or shovel snow. I have even lived without heat because I couldn’t afford to fix my furnance. Selling my house is a joke. It is more than $30,000 under water.

In exchange, I have been approved to move into an apartment complex where I am not responsible for the upkeep; I get free heat, television, and other utilities; and there is a washer and dryer, even a dishwasher. I would be free to move anywhere in the country at anytime I wanted to. I can see how much I would love it.

Just as I convince myself of how wonderful it will be and how necessary it is for my healing, I get a wave of crushing self-doubt. How dare you back out of your financial commitment? You will be ridicule for being an idiot. Owning a home is always a good investment. You are signing yourself up for a life of rent slavery. You’ll never be able to buy a house again. You’re throwing everything away. Imagine how much you’ll hate listening to your neighbors in the apartment complex. You won’t have a back yard. You won’t have a porch.

I have had conversations over and over again with Max and Alex about this. I know that for me moving will be a necessary part of my healing process. I am not the same person I was when I bought this house. In some ways, my reluctance to let it go probably attributed to my cancer. I have made my decision and I have to trust it. Second guessing just uses up energy that I need elsewhere. Plus, as the boys remind me often, I am all right just the way I am. No matter what, I am worth it. I have never been bad; stop acting ashamed of yourself.

Now what?

It has been a few weeks since I have completed my treatments. I am past the boney aches. I am even not really that fatigued. Still, I don’t feel a hundred percent right. How am I really different? Why do I still feel stuck?

I feel like I should have a new lease on life. I went through something pretty big. My life was at stake. You would think I am a total health nut right now. I am not. Although I have been told by more than one person to drink more water, take detoxifying baths, cut out sugar and grains, and eat more vegetables….my diet hasn’t really changed.

I should be working on getting stronger. Yet, I am still pretty stationary. I found a bike I would love to own, and it would help me become more fit, but I won’t allow myself to buy it. I have a new cpap, and wake up more energized than ever…yet, I still stay in bed napping. It is a complete failure to launch.

I feel fear. I am fearful of dying. I am fearful of being alone. I am fearful of getting caught up in a life that held me bondage before. I am fearful that things may never work out.

In reality, a lot of these fears are baseless, but I still let them control my life. It isn’t working. Still, I look around and see so much that needs to be done that I am just overwhelmed to the point of sitting there and staring at it for several hours a day. At least I use to put effort in distracting myself from it.

I thought I was making some progress last week when I went on not one but two dates. The women were nice. They were semi-normal, but there just wasn’t anything there. I am beginning to wonder if I was ever meant to be in a relationship with anyone.

I keep wondering why I am not worthy of that kind of loving relationship. I want to have someone to lean on, to love, to be there for me in the middle of the night. I don’t know what it is like to have someone to sleep next to. I don’t know what it feels like to desire someone and feel like they desire you in return. There is so much that I feel I haven’t been privy to, and it hurts.

I have to remember that I am not alone. I am so lucky to have two guys that love me and are there for me. I have someone to listen to me, to play with, to share my life with. I sometimes wonder if I am just being selfish because I want more.

Dating is such a mine field though. First, there is usually such anxiety over just meeting someone new and fearing rejection. That is normal. For me, there is this added baggage. Am I attracted to you? Do I even know what that really feels like? Is it even possible for me to please you? Is it possible for anyone to ever please me? I don’t know what I am doing here.

Sometimes I wonder if I am going to die and never know what it is like to love someone and have them love me in return. I may never know what it is like to have a true valentine or get married. I have had glimpses. In some ways, I feel like I have experienced more love and intimacy that some people who are in defined relationships. Is it wrong for me to want more?

I don’t know what path to take. I am afraid that anyone I choose will just lead me off a cliff. I don’t trust myself. I sometimes wish I just had a map, but even if I was given one…I would probably be too afraid to follow it.

I don’t know what any of the answers are. I am starting to get super impatient with myself and everything else. I want everything solved yesterday, and I am super unrealistic with my expectations.

I am treading water here. I hope I see some sort of boat or at least a lighthouse so I can at least point myself in a direction that has some capability of producing fruit for my labor. I know that you sometimes only need the faith of a mustard seed to sustain you in your journey. There are days were my faith struggles to mustard just that.

For this reason, I keep asking myself, “now what?”

Who Am I, Really?

A big part of this last year has been trying to get real with the real me. Up to 2012, I was a miserable single lady. I felt so left behind by my friends who married and had kids. I didn’t want it, but at the same time I felt undesirable because I wasn’t a part of it. For decades, I repressed any sort of sexuality. At first, I thought I was too fat or unpretty to be hit on. I then convinced myself that I couldn’t force anyone to love me so I should focus on only that which I could control. I overbooked my schedule and worked myself to death to avoid sitting with the real me.

I believe with all of my heart that my cancer is directly related to my dis-ease with my sexuality. I repressed every urge. I shied my eyes away from anything sexual. I took comfort in knowing that porn didn’t turn me on. In some ways, I just thought I was above such desires. The life of a nun looked interesting. I didn’t have to submit to anyone. I wasn’t caught up in a wash of confused emotions related to pleasure or sex because it wasn’t even on the table. In the end, I was just miserable.

I don’t know why sex was such a negative topic for me. I grew up in the church and knew that good girls didn’t do that. I believe my mother was abused. She instilled in me a level of distrust in men…which I didn’t really believe, except when it came to sex. I scared myself silly about STDs. I vowed to never get accidentally pregnant, because who wanted to deal with that?

Even though, I heard that sex was supposed to be awesome, my first time wasn’t really anything to write home about. I kept thinking, “Is this what everyone is in such a hissy about?” I was relieved to not be a virgin at 19, but then I was concerned that it was a slippery slope to slut hood.

This whole time, I strived to be a lady. I traveled around the world. I bought clothes, shoes, and make-up to try and be prettier, more presentable. I went into debt trying to buy things to fix me. I never understood why I couldn’t stick to beauty regimens. I got tired of trying to make myself look pretty, because it was never going to happen.

In reality, the only thing in my way was poor self-esteem, or was it?

Now that I am bald, I have actually not worn wigs a lot. I do like to put them on occasionally, but I prefer a hat or a hoodie. I don’t mind dresses, but I gravitate to pants, t-shirts, and hoodies. My excuse for not having a more diverse wardrobe is money, but it really isn’t that at all. I like the comfort of what I am wearing.

When I flipped the switch and came to the conclusion that I am attracted to girls, I immediately thought of myself as wanting to be more of a lipstick lesbian. How cute is it for two girls that look like girls to be into each other. As I looked through lesbian profiles, I saw more manly girls and felt instant disdain. If I wanted a boy, I would just go for a boy.

Being bald, people just look at you differently. Immediately, they assume that I am a boy. I have been called “sir” more times in the last month than I could care to admit. It doesn’t feel good. First, I attach it to looking ugly. I must be a “handsome” woman. Secondly, I feel that mistaking me for a man must immediately make someone believe that I am transgender. I don’t want to be a man. I don’t want to grow a beard. Whatever! I have been sensing a feeling that the boys suspect some level of gender bending in me. I feel they are intently listening to me to find an “a-ha” moment..

Some how, the topic of going to a strip joint came up. The boys thought it would be a learning experience to take me to one and get me a lap dance. I felt myself immediately throw up walls. A girl can’t go into one of those places. I would be so embarrassed. I feared the boys would get off on my embarrassment and ride it for entertainment. What if I wasn’t attracted to them? What if I was? Instant fear shut down my entire system.

It leads to a very interesting conversation. What am I afraid of? Do I think strip clubs are morally wrong? No. Do I think the girls are skanky or sluts? No, actually, I think I admire them. I love dancing. I love the female form. It is like a show with beautiful topless women in it. Alex downloaded pics of the club; it was plush, dark, and full of red velvet. I actually love that esthetic. Alex and Max could visualize how awesome this could be for me, and I instantly wanted to hate them for it. They offered to hold my hand, come in with me; they promised that wouldn’t push me past my comfort level. Something in side of me was just fuming. I was facing meltdown. I could see exactly what they were seeing, and totally agreed with it, but there was another part of me that was grossed out.

The biggest emotion was embarrassment. I was embarrassed to be a girl liking girls. I was embarrassed to think that I would be in a situation with such sexual stimulation, that I thought I would get overwhelmed and just die. I didn’t want witnesses to see me meltdown and be so vulnerable. It was so polar opposite to who I thought I once was, or who I once tried to be. There was immediate shame. The emotions were almost enough to shut me down completely, but I was used to this pattern of behavior. As I was internally freaking out, I felt like I stepped back and try to examine the meltdown in progress. I could hear Alex and Max, but I refused to look them in the eyes. Still, I held open a doorway to hear the truth.

In reality, it is a perfect idea. No relationship commitments. No touching them. Dark. Visual. As Alex called it, it is live action porn. As much as I love scantily clad women dancers, I am positive I would enjoy the experience. I understood that it was a great idea, I just couldn’t bust through all the baggage. Part of me had never thought of it before, and was in denial that it was even a possibility. It was like a whole new world had sprung open. Another part of me felt all the shame, damage, guilt, immorality, and embarrassment of the situation.

Obviously, these same hang-ups must have an impact on my ability to find a girlfriend. In some ways, I have confronted so much and am open. In other ways, I am still completely pinched off from my sexuality. Thank god I learned to masturbate. I have a prescription to do so at least twice a week from my radiation oncologist to help combat the collapse of my vagina from the radiation. I think a bigger part of the problem is that I still don’t know exactly where I fall on the spectrum.

Abraham Hicks says that the first part of the Law of Attraction is that we send off rockets of desire every minute of every day. Just being in our environment, we can’t help but log our desires. The difficulty is in the allowing. We create so much resistance, that our grids can’t fill in. We can either choose to allow what we are attracted to in our lives, or we can revel in the absence of what we want. The Universe is just waiting for us to soften our resistance.

If I take out immediate judgment, whether it be my own or that of others, an interesting pattern emerges. There is not any really new information, I have known this for some time, but there is openness to the information and an understanding if I can keep the judgment at bay for just long enough to get a clearer picture.

I have always been attracted to boy stuff. I have always been a sort of tomboy. I grew up through the late seventies and eighties. Nerdy boys had so much available to them. I always asked Santa for Matchbox cars, or the entire catalogue of Star Wars toys. So many times, my efforts to lay out these desires ended up with a pink radio in the exact same model as my younger sister. My hair would be matted. I wouldn’t sit still for my mom to brush it out. I loved playing soccer with the boys at lunch during elementary school. When I asked to play in a league, my mother instantly shot it down.

These preferences continued as I got older. My best friends were often boys. I was always considered “one of the guys.” I relished blowing people’s expectations of girls out of the water. When a guy at a retail job that I worked at mentioned that girls weren’t strong enough to start one machine, I instantly proved him wrong. I like tools and am interested in DIY shows. I sat in a circle of all men in Japan, at my brother’s wedding, and drank brandy along with them. I have always been interested in a man cave. I have an affinity for the image of the old bachelor in “My Fair Lady.”

Still, I have no desire to cut off my tits and take testosterone. I love to get gussied up as a pretty girl on occasion and flirt. It is like a cat playing with a mouse, killing it, and not eating it. I could see myself golfing. I love Seth MacFarlane. Family Guy is a comedy treasure. I watch “Jackass” movies on opening night. Seth Rogen and I could hang. I even loved the movie “Ted.”

Again, none of this is shocking to me. I have known it all of my life. I guess the problem lies in the fact that I have been judging the fact that I have liked it all of my life. I realize that my concept of what is expected from a girl is different. I fear being judged as an ugly but not enough to repress it as far down as my sexual identity.

Honestly, I don’t know what to do. Really though, is there anything I am suppose to do? I think it is just another layer of understanding. It is the peeling back of another onion layer and reminding myself that I am perfectly okay just as I am. I don’t have to worry about slipping off some slippery slope. Getting real with myself doesn’t mean that I will put myself in any actual danger. The Universe has my back. Nothing in this life is meant to hurt me or punish me. I don’t have to define myself by the stereotypes and judgments of others. The only person I really have to listen to is myself.

I don’t have to do anything other than follow what comes with ease and joy. Life is too short to live like a zombie. Maybe that is why there are so many zombie things. Don’t too many people medicate and choke down what they thing they are suppose to do every day instead of just living true to themselves? I refuse to live in autopilot because it is safe. There is so much more to this existence if we can stay true to who we are.

A Love Letter to the Sun

This winter has been unusually cold, snowy, and long. My butt has fallen on the ice in my driveway at least a half dozen times already. Each fall makes you more timid. Last night, I looked at my trash can and had a mini panic attack thinking about taking it to the end of my driveway. Eventually, taking small enough steps, I managed to get it set out.

I always harbor a small amount of anxiety about falling. I am scared to death of breaking bones, even though I have never broken one. Sure, I have twisted ankles and bruised other parts of my body pretty bad…but the fear is the most limiting part. Some people enjoy others confronting their fears. Max loves to watch me fall and try to get up. Yes, if I was really hurt he would come and help…but sometimes you need to watch someone confront their fear and get over it as an extension of their growth. I imagine parents have a horrible time giving their children enough space to make mistakes in order to grow.

I have been growing a lot these days. Fear can be a horrible fixture when you are confronting disease. I was scared to death when I was diagnosed with cancer, but I knew that I couldn’t just spend all of my waking hours worrying. Thoughts about your mortality are always in the mix. My father in his seventies is always contemplating his inevitable exit. My aunt did the same when she was his age. It is not normal to do it in your 30s, but anyone who has cancer and doesn’t tell you that their mind is sometimes burdened by these crazy thoughts is lying.

As someone who has been really into the Law of Attraction, I often worry when these thoughts show up. I don’t want more of them. I don’t want to attract suffering. Unfortunately, my panic about these thoughts always leads to more. That is why you really need to get focused on something else.

I am in the last third of my treatment. Even though this is the time the doctors tell you that you might be at your weakest, I have decided to take on some stuff to get me ready for life after disease. I started teaching an English class at my local community college. I even auditioned and am rehearsing for a small cabaret show. Compared to my recent activities, this is a lot.

Not only am I managing my time and energy to do them, I am using them as a safe space to really relax into my new state of being. I usually hate processes and “the journey.” I often am pounding things out to get to the end result. Life is all about the journey. The more comfortable you are during it, finding ways to enjoy the process, the more you get out of everything.

I think being in the middle of the process was so difficult for me because I like things black and white. Tell me what you want and I’ll do it. This might be great in an employee, but it isn’t great when you are trying to find out what you really want. With my cancer treatment, I can no longer ignore my body. If I am exhausted, hungry, or hurting…I have to honor it and forget about what anyone else thinks.

Last week, I had my first infusion of my second round of chemo. I appreciated the time off from radiation. Still, I did have some anxiety coming back. I had handled the chemo well before, but there are always unknowns. This round I get a Neblasta shot 24 hours after each infusion. It is designed to make more blood cells to fight infection, but it magnifies the boney pain. Surprisingly, the boney pain hasn’t been too bad. My energy level is a different issue. I went to rehearsal on Monday and made it through two hours of choreography. I wanted to leave as soon as it started. My bones ached and I felt light, but I sat through the pain and made it through.

Yesterday, I saw a doctor for a radiation follow-up. She asked me about exercise and when I told her what I was doing, she was impressed. “You should be exhausted,” she said. I was, but there is a part of me that is always pushing though the pain. Even after a nap, I didn’t really have much energy. I eventually missed rehearsal. I felt guilty, but a little rest on this end will preserve me for the future of the production.

Knowing when to push and when not to is an extension of being able to listen to yourself, trusting the information you are receiving. Discovering my identity as a lesbian made me realize how much I had been trained to deny huge aspects of my personhood. This all comes from self-hatred and low self-worth. As I have been opening myself up, I am able to hear and feel more of my intuition. I still question it, but I am kinder and more open to myself.

Nonetheless, sometimes a person who has been so out of tune with themselves needs help. Every self-help book talks about the need for accountability partners or a support system. As I have grown older, I was focused on being independent. I kept so many of my thoughts and feelings to myself. I thought I was shielding others from my burdens, but I was only hurting myself. Plus, those people that you really do love and want to be close to really ache when you do this. Max and Alex are always asking me to dig deeper, tell them more, and be more vulnerable. It isn’t easy. I would rather get two IVs sometimes than to share certain thoughts.

Assertiveness can have a bad connotation to it. Who wants to be a bitch? Still, sometimes you have to say what is on your mind. One day this past week, I was playing a pool game on my new phone. I finally won a game and let out a huge yell. Max and Alex were taken back. According to them, my yell was a little “manish,” which was contrary to my normal self. Max stated, with some confusion, frustration, and anger, “I feel like sometimes I don’t even know who you are.”

Immediately, I felt a dagger through my heart. On one hand, I got it. It is hard to see someone you thought you knew change so much. It wasn’t in the contract. That is why family members often are enemies to those on a diet. Couples break up because one of them changes more than the other can handle. In reality, I am not really that different. The context has changed and I am trying super hard to get more comfortable with who I am.

Still, there is no one that wouldn’t have been hurt if their best friend had said the same thing. It was in this moment that I immediately clammed up and could no longer speak. Rationally, I had already forgiven him because I understood, but I needed to give voice to the hurt. It took me two days to finally say it.

I have taught lessons on conflict management and being more assertive. I know that one needs to communicate. The problem is feeling enough worth and confidence to just give voice to it. I can now feel the physical closing of my throat. I have red flags shoot off in my head that I need to say something now. Unfortunately, low blood sugar can flood emotions through your body and make you feel so unworthy that you just shut down. Embarrassment or lack of confidence can make you second-guess every word. You can imagine how ridiculous you must look or sound, and the last thing you want to do is be seen.

I treat myself as if I am doing something wrong when in reality, you know that a boundary has been crossed and you just want to acknowledge it. Concern for others’ feelings becomes more important than your health and security. In the end, the lack of action is more a slap in the face to yourself than anyone else.

Watching someone go through this might be as funny as watching someone fall and try to get up in their driveway, but it is as lethal as cancer. How many people don’t tell their doctors the full truth because they are embarrassed or afraid? I am guilty. How many people stay in an unhealthy situation at work or in a relationship because they are too afraid to speak up? Again, I am guilty.

Once you recognize the problem, you can work on it. But, it isn’t super simple. The old adage that if you make a mistake, you have to do it right 7 times in order to learn it the right way applies. Being aware is only one step. You have to exercise this assertiveness muscle over and over again in order to gain any sort of ease in doing it.

You are not an island. You will have to get loved ones involved. Hopefully, there are a few people in your life that you feel you can trust enough to work on this with. If you don’t have someone you can trust, you are going to have to take a leap of faith and go find someone. I no longer believe that I can keep my thoughts and feelings to myself. Writing helps. It can open up someone who is really closed up, but you have to develop connections with other living breathing human beings.

Of course, humans are not perfect. Sometimes you are going to take a chance and be vulnerable, and the other person is going to disappoint you, maybe even hurt your feelings. Hopefully, you are working with people who have earned the right to hear your business and have even proven themselves as friends and not foes. If this is the case, you have to continue the dialogue. Feelings are mucky. They are uncomfortable. When people are learning, or even when they are not at their best, you have to be willing to forgive them and move on. The real reason for this is because you so desperately want them to forgive you when you mess up, which you are going to do.

By building this resource, it is easier to confront fear. Fear is a dark room. The second you let in some light, you will be able to see. Fear can’t survive the light; it exists in shadows. All one has to do is flip the switch. Flipping the switch just entails softening the resistance, releasing a muscle, relaxing and just letting the truth flow instead of being pinched off.

_______________________________________________________________________

At my next infusion, I noticed an older woman getting an infusion next to me. She was crabby to herself. She had no one with her, and she held a wall of invincibility around her. She called to have her lunch delivered and handled the human interaction like a business transaction. There was an impenetrable wall around her. I can understand wanting to prevent the bad/sad energy of a cancer center from invading you, but this was deep. I saw the old me in her and wanted to give her a hug. Cancer cells spend a lifetime isolating themselves from the community of the body. They only absorb the supplies they need (or more than they need) and don’t give anything back, like the Universe owes them nothing.

When she left, a lovely older black woman took her place. She was warm and funny. She loved to make her neighbors laugh. She showed concern for another patient who had a bathroom issue. The entire time she was getting her infusion, she had a six-month baby girl on her lap. You could tell that she loved this little one and I was in awe of how much the baby girl just melted into her. She felt safe and loved. There was no other place that she would have rather been. This grandma and her granddaughter were the most beautiful thing in the room. The energy radiated from them was warm, soft, and comforting. Like a flame, you’re just drawn to them.

I want to burn as a brighter flame. I want to radiate love and warmth.

So, today, the sun shines. I feel the light and the warmth. I know it is going to go away soon, but I am making my vitamin D and am storing the glorious energy and goodwill. I feel lighter. I feel fuller, and I feel ready to continue to be brave and carry on with courage.

Feelings

De-pression comes from re-pression.

If we don’t allow ourselves to feel and be honest about what’s inside without judgment – we can never really change.

We can change our clothes, we can change our diet and we can start to move our body, but none of that will do any good without going into the depths of the feelings we have suppressed for so long.

What feelings are you afraid to feel?

What feelings do you try to escape?

What feelings are you holding back because you think you are a bad person if you feel them?

You see – these places are the places we need to go if we are to liberate ourselves.

This is what Carl Jung meant when he said, “Enlightenment is not imaging figures of light, but making the dark conscious.”

We can’t make our dark side conscious if we are too self-judgmental to allow it to come forward – this is a spiritual bypass and it’s as deadly as a blocked artery.

What feelings can you feel today?

Taken from The Daily Love

Overcoming the Disconnect

Life gives you a lot of opportunities to learn lessons.

The beginning of this week wasn’t bad, but I was definitely not on my highest flying disk. I know that I had slipped off after my hair was cut, but I couldn’t figure out what to really do about it. Monday came and I had to do a bunch of errands to pay some bills. It felt good to take care of some things that I had been neglectful of taking care of, but it left me with less than forty bucks to stay a float for two weeks.

Money has been a sore spot for a while. I have been so lucky that my school has had my back while I am out on leave. The union has been paying for my short-term disability. I am so grateful that they have my back, that I feel horrible when I feel like I am coming up short.

Like most cancer patients, I am sure a lot of us weren’t in a good spot financially before we got sick.  I was laid off and unemployed for a few years. How I was able to keep my house? I still don’t know. My bank account is in the perpetual red. I haven’t had money to buy clothes or shoes in years. All those times I bitched about money when I was younger, seem stupid to me now.

Anyway, whenever I pay what bills I can…I sometimes see the rest of the obligations I have and feel like a loser for not knowing how I will ever be solvent. Sometimes I don’t even know where to begin. It can be another cause of slipping off a high flying disk.

Of course, if you listen to the Law of Attraction advice, one of the best ways to stay in a place where you don’t have money is to focus on what you don’t have. So, for now I am trying to stay really grateful for what I do have…which is a lot when you think about it.

Yet, this little mental mind jockeying combined with a little self-conscience about my hair and nerves about getting a second infusion this week made life a little blah. I tried to make it a point to do some activities for fun, but I was thrown for a big curve ball on Wednesday.

I got home Tuesday night to find that my furnace wasn’t working. I knew there was no way I could afford a repairman, and my father is not always good in these types of situations. I covered up in every blanket I could get my hands on and found a way to sleep through the night. Michigan was getting cold. I could hold out for a few nights, but it isn’t like I could go through the whole winter without heat.

When I got up the next day, I had an appointment for a free massage. As I drove out, tears just streamed down my face. What was I going to do? I had to try and see if my father was interested in helping, but I hated the idea of asking him for money again.

I used my massage to calm me down. I was so sure that he would shoot me down that I knew that I had to reframe my thinking or I would get exactly what I feared. My energy and vibration lifted. I drove back home to find two packages and two cards in the mail. I had signed up with a group of Chemo Angels. Each cancer patient is assigned two angels who would send cards and letters to lift their spirits while going through treatment. It was an unexpected surprise from strangers. I opened them up and let the awe of knowing that these people really cared about me wash over me. I believe the massage earlier helped me to receive these gifts.

After I felt a little cheered up, I called my father. He asked me how I was doing and I said I wasn’t great. I told him about the furnance and he went into a mini tirade about bills and him being broke. I found myself begin to sob…I couldn’t even ask him for help. I felt so bad for needing help. I think he was thrown for a loop and kicked in saying that he would take care of things. It felt like he finally understood that I needed him to act like a Dad who knew his daughter needed help.

I love my father. I took care of him when he was diagnosed with cancer. I became his sudo wife when my mom died. I hung out with him a lot. Sometime after my sister decided to move back from Virginia, I began to distance myself from him. I spent so much time with him that I felt like I couldn’t have a life. I had taken a loan out for school before he got sick and used it to live on when I took a leave of absence to take care of him. When I became unemployed, I couldn’t pay the loan. This kind of became a sore spot. The funny thing is, he had just paid for my sister’s wedding and it was the same amount.

Now that I have faced the fact that I am a lesbian, I have trouble feeling like I am nothing but a big disappointment to him. In some ways, I am sure he already knows. Still, the dream that I was following for most of my life was one that I knew would be acceptable to him. Have a great job, a guy, maybe some kids. Be an upstanding citizen. Go to church. It was the path I am sure everyone feels like they are suppose to follow. The problem was, it was never my path. It is what I thought I needed to do, not what I wanted to do.

Still, I feel like staying true to myself is like becoming an embarrassment to him. Would he still be proud of me? Would he think less of me? The pain in having these questions answered is what keeps me away along with the fact that the reason I don’t drive out to his house is because I don’t have enough money to pay for the gas.

The boys are well aware of this dilemma I have with him. Max was getting pissed off because I didn’t want to ask my father for help in the first place. He was rather short with me during that day and than invited me over. Max apologized for getting frustrated with me, but he said that he saw me slipping into old patterns and it was pissing him off. Part of the reason why my father would get pissed when I called him in an emergency is because I never tell him what is really going on in my life. I have shut him out and it put Alex and Max in a strange position. It puts them in a place where my father would feel animosity toward them where it wasn’t necessary. My desire to protect my father from any obligation toward me is what makes him feel bad. The point is he wants and deserves to know me more and I am the one who is hiding, avoiding any display of the true me.

In order for me to continue to grow on this path, I need to be authentic and vulnerable in all areas of my life, not just with the people and places I feel most comfortable being it. Of course, the thought of being that way with my family was excruciating. So, the boys told me that they wanted to see my father at my infusion appointment. Immediately, I thought no way. First, how would you like to be tethered next to someone you have been hiding from for 6 hours with no way out? They said, maybe he needs to see his daughter hooked up to IVs and bald to understand that I am human and vulnerable. Maybe he needs to feel like he is contributing to my emotional needs and not always the financial ones. Maybe he still needs to know that I need my Daddy.

As the Universe usually knows how to manifest these things, my sister decided to spend the night in my cold house. Maybe to get away from her husband, maybe to feel like she was giving me some support. She took me to my appointment and drove back to my house to meet the furnance guy. She had already scheduled my father to come a little latter, but the furnance guy was done and gone before the original appointment was scheduled to even start.

I did my labs and met with my doctor per usual, without my posse with me. I knew that someone would join me at the infusion room, so I wasn’t too worried. They started with the pre drugs and I got a little sleepy. When I woke up, my father was there. There is a one person maximum guest policy in the room. He had brought me some lunch. It was nice to see him there. The thing is that I do enjoy my father’s company. We are buddies. I don’t have to say all the shit that is on my mind. What he needs to know is that I still enjoy his company and I still care about what is going on with him and his life, just like he wants to be a bigger part of my life.

We hung out for three hours, and my brother showed up from out of town. It was a pleasant surprise. They swapped out and had a great time. It was one of his last vacation days and even though he was having car problems, he still made it over. I got a beautiful picture from my nephew, and my brother made me into a zombie with a Walking Dead app on his ipod.

My brother suffers from the same painful lack of vulnerability that I have. We totally got it from our parents. We are so busy trying to keep up appearances that we kill ourselves a little bit. I have had a Renassance, and I feel like he may be on the verge of one soon as well. I believe that part of the mix needs to be us sharing what we have been feeling and doing with one another. The thing about sibblings is that we are genetically connected and we carry the same family drama and tropes from childhood. We can use each other to heal from those wounds so we can live more fulfilling lives.

When the infusion was through, I had my brother drop me off at Alex and Max’s. That way, I had someone to watch me until I feel a little more comfortable being alone. While my brother was there, I could feel him completely open up. We shared our drag videos with him, my recent art work, talked about all kinds of things and just saw him relax and unwind. He didn’t feel like he had to be anywhere or answer to anyone for a while. The release of responsibility is sometimes a bigger vacation than a trip around the world.

When it was time for him to leave, I basked in the day that I had. Just 24 hours earlier, I had dreaded the idea of what would happened…but now I realized it was exactly what needed to happen. In order to really heal, I need to be me. I need to have my family in my life.

The boys and I had some great conversations. We are a unit, maybe a dysfunctional one. I don’t have to worry about losing Alex and Max, but we do need to open ourselves up to more people and more experiences in our lives. We had been doing it, but when I slipped up…they got tripped up too. One of the favorite places for me to be is in their presence, but they made a good point as to say that I need to feel like I can achieve the same amount of happy with them as without them. My enjoying my house, my family, new friends, and/or new experiences should not suffer because I am afraid of not having it with them. In reality, having a great time without them is giving them a gift. The same goes for the two of them. They should be open to having experiences by themselves individually, or even together with out me. It is what fuels us and makes us enjoy each other even more when we are together.

It is not as if I didn’t know this, but I had always assumed that they placed it on my head like I was the desperate one. In reality, they told me that it is as hard for them to do things without me as it is for me to do them without them. One of the biggest ways I could help out is to be more assertive. I need to not be always available to them. I should voice my opinions more and take my leave when I know that I am drained as opposed to when I think they want me gone. They had become as dependent on me as I was on them. This had served us well recently, but now we want bigger returns on our growth journey and this is the next step.

It is not meant to be sad, it is meant to be expansive. This is what can get us to our next level of success and enlightenment. We have filled out trivial pursuit pie hearts with our pieces to an overflow capacity. Yet, there are still empty spots waiting to be filled with the contributions of others. We can’t do that for one another.

Because of the love I was feeling from everyone, and the increasing amount of a-ha moments, I have to tell you that I felt very little pain from my infusion. Even yesterday I felt great. And, as a big surprise, I got another visit from my whole family. Unannounced, they showed up to check on me and we even went out for dinner. I can’t tell you the last time that happened. Instead of feeling put out, I really enjoyed it. I even let my father drive my car for the first time. Not because I wouldn’t let him drive it, but because in a round about way he asked to.

It gives me hope that new beginnings are starting. The hierarchy and false pretenses of the past may be finally falling away. Maybe this whole cancer journey was just a catalyst to make these important life changes, a huge moment to stop the crazy spinning of what we perceive life is (work, work, and little play) and focus on our truth, our love, and our path.

Lesson from Ina

Ina is the super sweet and amazing canine that is owned by Alex and Max. I was with Alex on the day that Ina came into our lives. She is the cutest ginger color Labrador you can imagine. Although I never really thought I would like big dogs, she has always been a pal of mine. I consider her like my own.

Yesterday, Ina taught me a very powerful lesson.

She has recently been super stoked to take car rides. Sure, every dog likes them, but Alex and Max have been making a habit of giving her one a day. You can tell that she really LIVES for these rides. It doesn’t matter if she didn’t get outside to play as much as she liked, or if the house cats were getting annoying, one of these rides just put her on the highest of vibrational disks.

How do I know? I often have the benefit of sitting next to her in the back seat. When she is allowed to come with us, she immediately jumps in and takes her usual seat. This is actually my seat, but I give it to her because it is the only back window that opens. Alex cracks the window open, and she shoves her face out.

As we roll out, her head is held high. Her eyes are wide open. Her ears are tossed back and she winces as the cool breeze travels through her whiskers. She soaks in every house, every person, and every car. Her energy just reads inexplicably happy and I find myself enjoying every minute of watching her.

When it gets to be a little chilly, she will lie down on the back seat and rest her noise in my lap. She is not anxious. She relaxes as I rub her back and collects the warmth. Once she is ready, she sits up and takes up her old post. She is never concerned that the joy she feels from being in the window is going to go away. She laps it up, as much as she can, until she can’t take it anymore. After her short respite, she regains her strength and goes back to her favorite activity. There is no discomfort or fear.

I have observed this pattern for months. Last night, we made a quick stop. Alex and Max went in to get some groceries and I hung out with Ina in the car. Once the boys left the car, Ina’s energy changed. Her eyes became concerned and she was no longer content to hang out in her seat.

Yes, she knew that Alex and Max were getting food, but this seemed more metaphysical.

Alex and Max constantly give unconditional love to Ina, and her in return. They eat, sleep, work, and play together. They are best buddies. The fact that Alex and Max understand that these rides put her in her highest vibrational self only adds to the joy and love.

Like Ina, Alex and Max represent a similar relationship for me.

As I observed Ina in their absence, she became disconnected from that source energy she was so connected to only moments before. Even though I was there, and she loved and trusted me, the absence of their attention dramatically took her off her highflying disk. Knowing that I didn’t represent the same to her as they did, I began to feel a little inadequate. I felt my energy slip as my worthiness to her did. Luckily, I was able to take myself out of the situation to make some observations.

How often have I had such a good time with Alex and Max that I didn’t want to see them go? Knowing that we can’t be together all the time, how often have I also felt distraught when I detected their distance? Sometimes even knowing that they are going to come back is not enough to soothe the feeling of lose that we are observing. The ability to self-soothe comes into question. Can I be distracted enough to pass the time? Can I find in me enough worth to ride the storm in the absence of what I want?

I reflected on the strangeness of the predicament. No Reader’s Digest type magazine talks about these kinds of families or relationships. I have actually been told that if I wanted to get married to a guy that I had to give up the gays. I have always known that our relationship goes beyond these trivial titles and roles.

I continued to watch Ina’s nervous energy. She was curled up on the front seat, desperately searching for her loves. I continued to feel a sense of lack. I was there, ready to love her and shed attention on her but she couldn’t receive it. She was so focused on the lack, that she couldn’t receive the warmth of my love.

I can understand how my relationship with Alex and Max can impede a personal and intimate relationship of my own.  When I think of the type of relationship I want, I know I want one like Alex and Max’s. It is a partnership of two equals. They are best friends. They love unconditionally and communicate frequently. They trust and respect one another to tell the truth, even when it hurts. They are each other’s cheerleader. They got each other’s back equivocally. They share many interests and genuinely enjoy each other’s company.

I feel swept up in their love of each other, and in their love of me. I know that Ina knows exactly how this feels.

In order for me to find this other, I am going to have to be able to release my fear of losing my relationship with Alex and Max. I have to trust that when we can’t be together, we are really not that far apart. I have to know that our individual expansion is our collective expansion. I need to trust that I can be vulnerable with someone who has earned the right to deeply see me and not feel like it has to distract or pinch off another relationship that I treasure so thoroughly.

Honestly, I felt so filled up by the love I got from the boys that I realized after surgery that if I didn’t experience it with anyone else that it would still be enough. The difference now is that I know that there is way more of that love available for me, just in another package. It is the kind of love that creates universes. It is accessible and available to me at any time. There is no need to fear the lack of any of it.

What I do need to do is recognize that I too often forget this power and my worth. I cower in the car, waiting for my peeps to return in order to remind me of my connection to source. I ignore others who are dying to love me for fear of cheating on this sacred bond. The pain of loving someone who is inhibited by these things is too much to make a real relationship work.

I thanked Ina for such a valuable life lesson. When Alex and Max returned, we got back on the road and Ina gleefully returned to her bliss. She was so fulfilled that she passed out once we got home in glorious splendor, bathed in the security and love of her family pack.

Leave it to a dog to demonstrate how we should live and love.

My First Infusion

So, Thursday finally came. I was scheduled to be at the cancer center at 7:45am. I hung out at Alex and Max’s house the night before. We had fun and did everything we could to keep my mind off things. When I left, I felt the momentum of the world pushing me to this appointment and just stopped resisting it.

Alex drove me to the cancer center. I had two bags, one with all my doctor paperwork and one with items to keep me busy. I signed up for some resources from the LIVESTRONG foundation, and one of their guidebooks gave suggestions on what to bring.

  • Sweater
  • Music player and headphones
  • Reading materials
  • Crossword puzzle or other activities
  • Lip balm
  • Water bottle
  • Body lotion
  • Peppermints
  • Calming teas
  • Notepad, journal, and pen
  • Bootie socks or slippers
  • Cookies, crackers, or other snacks
  • Stress ball
  • Something to cover the head

I got most of my supplies at the dollar store.

Upon entry, I had to get my blood drawn. I checked in with the receptionist. She said to me, “Good morning, Joann.” I was taken aback. That was my mother’s name. She has been dead for 12 years. She was probably last there 13 years ago. I corrected her and sat down. Alex pointed out that Rosanne was on the TV. It was an episode where Darlene was in the hospital after an appendix burst. Rosanne was all kinds of crazy, but you knew she was concerned and loving to her daughter. Alex was like, “I think we are in the twilight zone.”

When my mom was scheduled for her first chemo infusion, I actually went with her. I remember them hooking her up. She was so scared. I made her come with a stuffed animal. It was the last thing I did before returning to Chicago to end my FMLA leave. Maybe she was just letting me know that she was there for me too.

After the quick and painless blood draw, we saw my doctor. She is a wonderful woman. She made sure I didn’t have any questions, checked my incisions, and went over my CT scan results – which were good.

The last stop was the infusion room. Usually the cancer center is bustling with activity, but we seemed to be the first one in. We had our choice of where we wanted to sit. The patient got a nice recliner and the poor guest had to sit in a hard chair. My infusion was scheduled to last for 6 hours.

The care that these people put into your experience is exceptional. They put my arm on a pillow and warmed it up with a heating pad to get the blood vessels ready. A big IV stand hovered next to me. The nurse got me in one poke. The first medicines were anti-nausea, anti-anxiety, anti-histamine, and steroids to help prevent allergic reactions.

I sat as restfully as I could. I had swapped my shoes for comfy slippers. Alex was having some difficulty in the hard chair. He had some intestinal distress for the last few days, and he was feeling it again today. He had brought knitting needles to re-teach me how to knit, but the IV placement limited my hand moments. He went to the bathroom and spilled stuff on himself. You could tell he was getting uncomfortable and bored. Still, his spirit put me in a great mood.

Too often, these cancer centers feel like funeral homes. People aren’t really happy. They have cancer. I have walked in the building alone and have felt the weight of this dark energy before. It isolates, it terrorizes, and it can make uncomfortable situations feel worse than they need to be.

Walking in with one of my friends is the best way to counteract this. Alex and Max are always my first go to. They are my best friends, soul sisters. They know where I am at and what will trigger me into another thought pattern. I have noticed that our humor always puts the doctors and nurses in great moods as well. This can be a huge benefit.

My first chemo drug was Taxol. The whole infusion for that drug was 3 hours, but they were going to test it with 2 fifteen-minute batches. I was doing well with the first batch. I even got up and went to the bathroom. When I returned, I started to find it harder to breath. It felt like someone was starting to sit on my chest. I than began to feel pain in my hipbones. Not sharp, but achy. It made me want to get out of my chair to get pressure off of them.

I hit the nurse call button, and soon I had two next to me. They stopped the infusion, which immediately ended my symptoms. I had a reaction, but it was at the end of 15 minutes. They gave me more Benadryl and steroids, let me rest a half hour, and tried again.

I was pretty good. Alex traded out with my sister who brought me lunch.  This is a great plan. Having a back up switched things up and made my helpers feel less pent up. I tried to get a little sleep. The liquid Benadryl gave me restless legs. Apparently, I almost kicked my sister a few times. My legs didn’t hurt; I just could keep them still.

I completed the Taxol and finished off with 30 minutes of Carboplatin. This was the drug that was going to take my hair in 15 days. At some point, I saw my sister and asked her if she was cold. She had a sweatshirt on, and I was feeling warm. A nurse overheard and poked her head in. ”Which one of you are hot?” I said I was and I had two nurses around me again.

I got my blood pressure taken, pulse oxygen, temperature, and glucose measured. One nurse brought me cold wash clothes for my forehead and neck. Apparently, my blood sugar was high. They supposed that it was from the steroids. One of the side effects is overheating. They chose not to give me insulin because it wasn’t super high, but they kept watching me. No more cookies from the volunteer cart. J

At the end of the infusion, I got a little gift (a plastic cup) and the nurses joked around with me. They pulled out my IV and my sister and I took off. I was tired, but feeling halfway decent. She dropped me off at the boys’ house so someone could watch me.

I felt a little bit like a space cadet. I wasn’t super tired. I wasn’t nauseous. I didn’t taste anything metallic. Being tired has been the biggest thing, and even that hasn’t been too bad. I have to saw, I am surprised. I really thought it would be a lot worse. Of course, side effects can be accumulative. I am going to be hopeful and try to wrap my brain around it staying this easy for now. Worrying just wastes good time for nothing.

So, one out of 3 infusions are done for this session of chemo. I can do this!