Friday, August 17, 2012

Opening doors

Isn't there a saying, that when a door closes, a window opens, or something along that line? I think that's where I'm at- standing right in front of the window, shades thrown open, window wide with the cool breeze of inspiration, of the potential of the future, blowing gently against my skin.

While I still feel like I am in the churn of things (I dreamed this morning that I was in a helicopter over an oil processing plant in Alaska, and part of that was this deep cavern in the earth where giant augers constantly churned the raw oil that had been collected from the earth. Another helicopter was there too and fell into the oil and I watched as it went under), I definitely feel like I'm no longer in the helicopter that was getting sucked down into the muck and turned under. I guess I have a little distance, at least today. It's good. My heart feels light and I am embracing that sense of wonder and curiosity- what will happen next?

I've started getting back to the co-op work. I'm so grateful to have been able to step away and leave the work in caring, committed hands. Sliding back into the flow of things is easy and difficult- some things have changed and I want to see where it goes, rather than yanking it back into my way of doing things. Don't get me wrong, yanking it back was definitely on the table until I realized that there is good wisdom in letting everyone own a piece of it, rather than hoarding all that power for myself. It's not an easy lesson. I like control- in case you hadn't notice.

I think it's the practice of Letting Go that is important. Letting go that I am having little snatches of anxiety that I never had before. Letting go when my friends tell me, "You are different. You have changed."

I've reached an impasse in my ability to process some of the emotional baggage I'm carrying, and I just need a guide for a while. I didn't decide on a therapist, I just followed my 'nose' so to speak and I landed on someone who when I saw her website and photo, thought to myself, she's the one. It's so funny how these things happen. I can't keep going the way I am in the relationships with my (extended) family and I am at a loss as to what to do now, next, what to change, how to think about it, how to ease the hurt.

I dreamed that I was in my car and that Eidie was on the long, straight, country road, buffeted on either side by trees. I was talking to her and she was a little anxious, and I drove away from her, down the road. I was going to turn around and come back for her, but something about driving away from a small child on a long road felt so taboo and I felt like I was getting away with something. As I was driving away (I couldn't even see her in my mirror anymore), two cars came toward me and I realized that she was in the street, and also that they'd come across this small child out in the middle of no where and that I would probably have the police called, that there was no reasonable way to explain what I'd done. I raced back for her, terrified that she'd been hit, or worse (in my dream), found by someone else and would be taken away from me by CPS and the police, and how would I explain this to Randy?

The overarching feelings were that I was getting away with something taboo, and then the horrific guilt and shame of it when I was 'caught'. I have broken rules with my family, rules no one told me but that I broke nonetheless. I have crossed the line into the taboo, and I'm not sure that there is recovery from that. I know too much now, what the other side is like, and I don't know how to come back from a long journey pretending like I haven't changed. I don't know if this door is closed. I'm not ready to make that call.

So my "Window" is my therapist. We haven't met yet. I don't need to love her, I just need to be able to talk.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I no longer feel that identifying this as a 'cancer' blog makes sense. It is, and it isn't, and cancer is so limiting. It's the aftermath that really churns up the good stuff and reveals the treasures long hidden in the silt of day to day life.

As much as I identify with the trees, the ocean has been a good healer for me too. My family took a trip to Rialto Beach. Doesn't look like much on a map, just a stretch of sand bordering the Pacific Ocean (is there any stretch of sand that borders that ocean that isn't much to look at? Come on.)

Having just driven up the coast of California and Oregon via 101 just a few short weeks ago, I saw the incredible sculpting power of the ocean, the endless stretches of beach and walked in talcum-powder fine sand.

When you drive up Mora road, you crest this little hill and the edges of the beach explode in front of you- nothing you ever expected. I felt at home at Rialto. It's raw, wild beach. It is on the edge of crashing ocean that smacks into the giant seastacks blowing plumes of water into the air. The beach changes from rocks that are worn smooth like river rock from the force of sand and water, and turning into a gritty sand at the edges of the water.

The trees. I don't know how to describe the wall of dead, driftwood trees- from tippy top to roots, that line the beach. It's a jagged wall that frames the beach from the forest. It's death and life - these trees, when forced up on the beach by the ocean, can kill you.

Sea lions come here to give birth. It is a wild place. It is on the harsh edges between worlds.

It felt like home, because I am the harsh edges between worlds right now. My tongue is sharp and quick, my words are direct and sometimes pointed. I don't mean for them to be, I don't know another way to be right now. I close my eyes and I see the roots of the trees, bleached white with rocks shoved into their woody flesh, and I see myself.

The long stretch of beach has black sand that looks almost oily when wet by the waves that like to surprise you. The dead trees seem to go on forever. The people walking on the beach aren't dipping their toes in the water or flying kites, they are chilly and quiet and keep to themselves.

I feel Coyote here, on the edges between the forest and plain, hiding in the twilight shadows (Twilight, hah!) - this beach is the essence of 'on the edge' because it is on so many edges, in so many ways. It was like physically being in a place that showed how I feel inside.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


The last few days I've been dreaming about my throat. I think part of this is because I sometimes have this feeling of something in my throat being swollen, and I find swallowing feels very weird and not efficient, for lack of a better description. I'm trying to figure out which doctor I'm supposed to tell about this. Kind of waiting to talk with my endocrinologist on the 31.

Last night I dreamed that the denser tissue under my scar had swollen and that I realized that the doctor had left some gauze inside my wound when she did my surgery, and that it was now growing infected and "needed to come out". What am I holding back? I woke up searching for the thing that's sitting there, needing to be said. As I write this, I feel like I know what it is. Bugger.

The night before, I dreamed that I had woken up and that my voice (which is now basically fully recovered) had gone, and that I was back to having my voice hampered and silenced. It felt almost like because I hadn't used it properly, my voice was taken away from me.

I have developed a sort of performance 'awareness', in that if I don't write about something related to cancer, I'm not writing about the 'right' thing. Even though I know that a lot of this healing process has to happen on levels other than just physical, I feel in some way like I'm straying too far into the 'woo woo'. At the same time, this is where I'm truly at- and I also notice that I am becoming increasingly more introverted.

Introverted? Me?

I don't even know what to think about this. I don't like it. I will ride it out and do my best not to resist but it's VERY hard. I don't like how hard it seems right now to balance my relationships. I am hoping very much that this is temporary, but I will roll with it as it comes.

I did something today that I don't think I could have done a few months ago- I made a public proclamation (well, on Facebook) that I am not booking time with anyone else right now. I really can't bear it- the calendar, the worries about taking too much time away from my family, the 'trappings' that come along with it (do I bring a dish? how long should I stay? did I pack a snack for eidie? what if my car breaks down?) - it's all too much.

I feel myself stripping off the extra things like taking off clothes. However, I'm looking forward to getting back to births. A lot. For a while I was feeling like even that was too much and unsure I could even do it- and then this swell rose inside of me and I feel like it's where some of my healing will be done, it will be just the right place for me to be. I am good at holding space, and I am good at leaving my stuff aside- and the beauty of that open space is getting filled up by the intensity, inspiration, strength and honesty of a laboring woman. That is good medicine, and I am looking forward to discovering who I am in that space, now that all this is woven into the tapestry of me.

I'm also getting increasingly nerviously anxiously happy about going to Africa. For a bit the idea of waiting until January was quite appealing and it turns out that it's a go- and on September 24th I'll ride out with my colleagues, who will morph into becoming my friends, into the..... wild? heart? Yes, into the Wild Heart. I am working to let go of the idea that it will be the 'last' of my transformation and that I will get some kind of break from all of this intensity. I am laughing that I even have the balls to write it in black and white, because I know better. Boy, do I know better.

I told Cyndi today that I thought that my trip to the Redwoods would be my medicine, front to back- go, come back, be changed, go on with life, and we laughed about that.

Turns out every day is a Medicine Walk. Every day.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Going slowly

I kind of hit a little critical mass today, and I'm finding that I have those more often now than I did before. A lot of inner dialogue going on, a lot less external processing.

Lately I'm finding that I'm still not slipping into the old stream nearly as easily as I thought I would. It's like the water doesn't know me anymore, and I don't remember its chilly bite, so it shocks me rather than feels familiar. I don't know how to stop trying to go back to who I was, what I did, what I believed, what I wanted, devoting my time in the ways I did, with whom, in what activities- all of it. That terrain is supposed to feel familiar, like home, and in so many ways, it doesn't.

That doesn't mean that it's bad or wrong or that I'm quitting or running away, or stopping talking to people or anything of that sort- I am just in the midst of figuring out that I can't do things the way I did them before, and I'm not sure why, I just know that I can't. And I don't know exactly where I'm supposed to go with that information.

That moment when you realize you've been walking past all the shops for so long and dreamily staring into the windows, until you noticed that you no longer recognize where you are- sitting on the steps, looking around, not sure which direction to go in order to find something familiar - that's me.

My husband feels deeply familiar, and in new ways. Whatever it was that tied us together has been plied with new experiences and while we do exist as two people, there are so many ways that I feel that we are one- in healthy, empowering ways. If every experience shapes us, what does sharing a life with someone do to us? Who would we be without that experience? I don't have to see myself as incomplete without him to know that I would be, the person I am today, incomplete, without him. It all makes sense, even though it doesn't.

I'm so grateful to live in a home where it feels familiar, and where I can spiritually and emotionally sort of throw myself around and try on different ways of being me, without it disrupting our home - mainly because it's probably all my family knows of me. ;) It's our normal, I think.

In the meantime, in the external world, I'm forgetting commitments, double booking my time, standing people up for work appointments, showing up late, forgetting things. It isn't that I don't care, because I care very much- but there is some place in my brain where the only thing I have space for is THIS moment, and the future is not in it. Therefore it doesn't exist, and therefore I can't think about it. I don't know how to shift this weird, slow place I'm in, except to notice that I"m not ready to swim. I'm not ready to try to dive back into an old life that died. I have to step away from it and venture forth and consciously choose who I am with every step, in a different way than I did before.

It takes a lot of energy, birthing oneself. I nap a lot, or wish I could. I think a lot. I am experiencing things intuitively in a new way and every new thing startles me.

I think I'm going so slowly, and then I realize that I can slow down even more.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Still landing

One of the midwives I work with called tonight to ask if I'd be ready to assist at births again any time soon (as in, immediately lol), or in the foreseeable future. This is something I've been mulling on, this, and many other things. When will I be ready to go back to work? At some point, do I just call it on the calendar and jump back in, sink or swim? I can't just 'sink' when I'm at a birth, too much responsibility. But how will I know if I'm ready if I don't dive in? Why do I feel so resistant?

I think a lot of it is that going to births requires such a huge amount of energy from me and I feel like right now, I am spiraling deeply inward, not outward. I want to cancel plans, not make them. I want to stay home, not go out, keep silent, listen, process, assess, write, analyze, think, reflect. I want to be a tree, I guess.

My aunt told me at one point that having cancer has changed me. I didn't realize that until she'd said it and as I move further away from having had cancer, it starts to feel so very long ago, another lifetime. I don't recognize the person I was before it because she feels quite different than who I am right now. I'm sure, six weeks from now, I will say the same thing because the change seems to be happening so darn quickly. I feel like I need to continue to cocoon myself for a while longer, and am curiously wondering who and what I will be when I come out. I really have no idea.

Taking out the cancer wasn't the end of the story. I don't know when it will end. I wonder about writing here 'still' when I don't have a cancer story anymore. I wonder if anyone feels as strongly or responds to it or if it makes a difference - and even though I don't have answers, I still come back and write. The difference it makes, I think, is that it helps me, and that is the most important thing it can do, at the end of the day.

I am still working through some things about my cancer experience that lack explanation- and I am unclear how to talk about them without possibly hurting people, but not sure how to process it without writing it out, because I've done all the talking I can do, and I am still hurting over it. Until I find a way, I feel stuck with this energy and it comes up in my thought processes all the time. I'm still chewing on it, trying to find the spot that will give way.

I'm so glad that the midwife called today, I hadn't realized until she asked me basically if I'm ready to 'get back to my old life' that I'm still trying to land in this new one. I don't know another way to describe it. I've gone through deeper changes than I ever expected or even knew I could, and I'm still finding out who I am on this side of it.