Sobbing uncontrollably, I began to take stock of everything I was dealing with. Why did it all have to implode at the same time, I wondered? I could handle one at a time, I thought, but financial, relationship, work and health problems all at once just seemed like too much. Within two days, it felt as if my entire life had completely fallen apart: medical bills, health issues, relationship trauma and work frustrations all days after receiving my final paycheck from the nonprofit I founded five years ago.
I was stuck, and I couldn’t see a way out on my own, so I reached out for coaching from my friend Mike who helped me distinguish the underlying story. I really get that it isn’t the circumstances in our lives that cause us upset, it is the story we make up about them. Mine is this: when things go wrong, or right, when I am in despair or when I want to celebrate, I feel really alone. This doesn’t show up for me as a story though. It is REAL. I AM alone. This time, I saw even more to this story: the thought that I will always be alone, and that I will have only myself to rely on.
Bringing the story to the surface helped me see exactly how much it had been running the show for so long. When things go wrong, I have a fantasy that it would be easier to deal with if I had a partner. Financial catastrophe wouldn’t be so bad with another income to fall back on. Health scares would be easier with someone there to hold my hand or give me a hug. My work life is so difficult because I am a one-woman show and don’t have support.
Distinguishing the story, lessened its impact on me. I recognized immediately that it wasn’t in any way true. I am NOT alone. Within the first hour of my crisis, three people in my life gave me significant support. They all dropped whatever they were doing to come to my aid, and what they provided made a huge difference for me. After 48 hours of breakdowns, I had a breakthrough, and regained power over my circumstances.
Later that week, I received results from the ultrasound my oncologist ordered when I experienced some distressing symptoms. I had expected to hear from him on Thursday as the technician told me she would send the results to him that day. Instead, I got them on Saturday at exactly the right time, in exactly the right place for me to deal with them powerfully. Are you aware of divine timing in your own life?
I was in Atlanta for a leadership program when my oncologist left me a voicemail that the two masses we’d been watching for a year were both still there, and one had grown somewhat significantly. Additionally, he said, there are four new masses since my last ultrasound six months before. This call came just before the dinner break, and I was trying to figure out how I was going to find a group to go to dinner with and find some privacy to talk with my doctor at the same time. I was talking to the program leader, and dealing with my own emotions about the news when my friend walked up behind me. I was staying with him for the weekend since we were both in the same program, but I thought he had already left for dinner. This was perfect.
“He will take care of me,” I told the leader. I didn’t know just how true that statement was when I made it. Shaun is studying to be a chiropractor, and has a brother who is a cancer survivor. He introduced me to his friend Dee, an energy healer and shaman who was planning to spend the dinner break with him. Wow! I was with the perfect two people! I explained what was going on, and these two amazing healers provided just the support I needed.
I want to back up a minute to explain that I believe strongly that every ache, pain, disease and malfunction in our bodies is preceeded by an emotional trigger. I first discovered this when a seriously stiff neck led a friend to recommend Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life. Rigidity was associated with neck pain, according to the book. When it asked, “who is being a pain in your neck?,” I knew exactly what the problem was. When I spoke to the “pain in my neck” and apologized for my inflexibility, my pain went away, and it hasn’t come back.
I know from this book that cancer is correlated with a deep hurt or resentment, and I had been looking for a few years to uncover what this might be for me. It wasn’t in any way obvious. I don’t have any serious trauma in my past. I had a happy childhood, supportive friends, a great life, really. I have struggled with my finances for as long as I could remember, so I wondered briefly if it might have something to do with that, but it didn’t really resonate.
So, as I was sitting between Dee and Shaun and receiving healing energy from them both, Dee asked, “What is the hurt?” I told her I had been trying to figure this out, and it just wasn’t revealing itself to me. Her intuition told her it had something to do with the fact that I couldn’t have kids. I immediately shot that down, because while it was true that I had a hysterectomy and couldn’t now have kids (Dee did not know this, by the way), I had never wanted kids, so that couldn’t be it.
We kept exploring. She asked questions that came to her. I cried a lot, and answered them as best I could. Suddenly, it hit me. This was tied to the story I had distinguished earlier in the week – it was about being alone! While I never felt the pressure of a biological clock, and refused when my oncologist suggested we freeze some eggs when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 36; I always thought someday, I would meet an amazing man, and I would want to have HIS kids. This wasn’t about whether or not I wanted kids, but that now, that option wasn’t available to me. Even if the amazing man showed up, I couldn’t have his children. Again, seeing the story allowed me the opportunity to release it, and the deep hurt and resentment that came along with it.
Is it any surprise that of all the aspects of having cancer I could have chosen to write about in this blog, I have focused on being single? Feeling alone is clearly the central theme for me. It is likely the deep hurt that triggered my illness to begin with, and it is the area I have chosen to focus on providing support for others. It is incredible to me that it could have remained hidden for so long, but it was revealed exactly at the time it needed to be. I am at a crucial point with my book about being single with cancer, and it is obvious to me now that I must write more about this. I know I’m not alone in feeling alone, and I am hopeful that my own revelations will help others heal as well.