Vulnerability as a coping tool
I made it through yesterday, and here I am ready to face today. Key learnings: I will take care of myself; I will not neglect myself. I can make healthy choices. I will find struggle and I have the mindset to move through a spectrum of emotions; feeling, reckoning, rumbling with what’s below the surface, allowing my own revolution to take place.
I am learning to rise strong. I am centering in on my core values and engaging my authentic self.
D-Day is hard; not as hard as it has been in the past, but big emotions nonetheless. It seems like November 30 and December 1 may forever be locked in the fibers of my being. I was mindful of the feelings that surfaced as the anniversary of my diagnosis causes flashbacks, moments of disassociation, feelings of panic, and fear of uncertainty. I knew the thoughts and emotions would come, and I knew the dates would come and go.
I did not know that my body would label these dates as potential threats and proceed with a hard shutdown. I did all the things I know to do. Journaling, meditating, dancing; my body still responded with a flashing alarm. However, the five-alarm siren wasn’t going off, just the red light strobing in the back of my brain.
November 30th and December 1st were a lot. I had a lot going on with work; the biggest fundraising day of the year landed on November 30th. And of course, there was a fumble, but I fixed it as best I could. I felt rushed and panicked, filled with tension, yet confident, capable, and strangely solid. I was a little confused, and I worked with it by being curious. I did emotionally eat (not for very long) and I did end up balled up in a pile on the couch with what I thought was a fever. My brain and body were overloaded by the end of December 1st, so I physically shut down.
But the fact that I was aware of what was going on is the key learning of this experience. The fact that I wasn’t spinning out of control, that I knew what was happening, and was able to utilize my coping tools is a sign of my own personal revolution.
And the next morning, I woke up so rested and felt so amazing. Trippy and validating all at the same time.
Rising strong with vulnerability and courage
I love sharing the nexus of neuroscience, healing, and writing. When we author our story, we own it, it does not own us. And if we are writing to heal, then we are owning our healing. One of the skills I have is being vulnerable. I am learning to be B.I.G in my vulnerability: B – boundary setting, I – integrity, and G – generous. This concept is helping me reroute the conditioned pathways in my brain and providing space for me to process and rewrite my story.
I could have allowed my thoughts to be in control, but instead, I counted my thoughts by checking in with my body and giving it what it needed. I acted with integrity by sharing appropriately with my roommate, who has his own medical trauma and felt grounded in our shared human experience. I extended generosity to myself, the same generosity that I extend to others, and reminded myself of the healing progress I have facilitated because it is what I need.
My affirmation for today: I will not neglect myself; I am healing myself. Vulnerability takes courage, and facing cancer takes us right to the heart of both. I have never been laid so bare, felt so raw, as I did on the day of my diagnosis. But since then, I have found a deeper sense of intuition, trust in myself and others, and found more courage than I have ever known because it is what I needed to survive. Now, the threat has subsided, but the residue of trauma still clings to my bones. I will reshape that residue like I am working clay on a pottery wheel.
I’ll use courage, curiosity, and vulnerability to recognize the feelings, I’ll rumble with the preconceived notions, conditioned and limiting beliefs by checking in with my reality, and I will own my story instead of running from it.
Prompt 1: Get as close as you safely can to the memory of your diagnosis. What surfaces with this memory?
Prompt 2: Return to the present. Think about your core values. What do you carry with you now, that you didn’t carry before your diagnosis? How do your core values drive your thoughts and behaviors?