Saturday, February 25, 2012

Surveillance Monkey

My mind is so crowded these days. Round and round, reviewing and ruminating on bits and snippets as my brain rattles like a broken hard drive. My mind tells me that nothing in my life is right right now and constantly provides me with data to prove it.

I suspect that my mind is using me against me, my unconscious mind projecting scene upon scene to distract me while the man behind the curtain worries and frets about going under the knife again in less than week, the second "re" of the de-re-de-reconstruction of this journey. I think my mind rightfully has a little PTSD about the last going under that its not dealing with.

So I sit here in these last days before trying to tie up loose ends when I should be just sitting, letting this worry come and dealing with it. I need about an hour on the mat or a good cry or a punching bag or all three. But instead I am fumbling around, ensconced in worry and frustration and anger and sadness for all of the things that are fcked up in my life that I am thinking about. It feels secure to be worried and worked up because I don't have to be afraid of something that I can't control. It's poking the sore spot, finding the socket of a missing tooth, it's a well-worn path in my mind.

Years ago when I worked in a battered womens' shelter, my mentor Jan described a woman deciding to leave her abuser through a really amazing analogy that fits for far too many situations. She said that often being trapped in an intense situation is like being in a house on fire. You walk through the house trying to decide whether or not you should grab the cat or pick up Aunt Tilly's doily that she crocheted in 1965. Standing in the panic and the haze and the smoke, you don't make good decisions, risking everything because you are unable to remove yourself from or even come to terms with what is happening. You are just there, trying to do what you think you need to do so you don't lose everything. It is only when you get across the street and are sitting on the curb with the oxygen mask on your face and the fireman's blanket around your shoulders that it hits you..."Oh my god, I could have died in there."

Our wonderful friend Betty B. talks about the physical "collateral damage" of chemo and I think this idea extends to your mental and emotional state post treatment. For me, life after cancer treatment is a little bit of sitting on that curb and a lot of wondering what my life should be about now. Not quite survivor's guilt, but more the feeling of being spared only to live a life that is the best it can be. It's the wrangling of feelings and getting back into my skin. It's not a time to make any big decisions. But it is a time to know my monkey mind, to understand what the screeching and cymbals do to distract and overwhelm.

Just sitting here, writing this out, helps me keep that monkey at bay. It helps me think about mapping out all he is raving about and seeing how things fit together. It helps me to think of "eating the elephant one bite at a time", as my friend Jenn says. It also helps me to realize that the monkey is a protector. He is the surveillance monkey from a Toy Story, warning my body that something is happening that my body may not be aware is on the horizon.

Tricky monkey.

[On the surgery note, we leave Monday for NOLA and I hit the table on Wednesday. We will be in NOLA until Thursday, the 8th. All forms of intention and intervention greatly appreciated. Love to you all.]

Thursday, February 23, 2012

When the voice talks, you listen

Dear Fran,

Today is a day you want to lie on the floor at the gym and cry. The hyper-flexiblity you bestowed on your children is long gone, tendons and muscles frozen from months of chemical barrage and lack of mobility. You feel like an alien in your own body. This is where you are now. This is the baseline.

The forest fire that raged through your life last year has its lasting effects, the greatest of which is the journey you now have to take to become whole again.

Be the woman you can be and find a path and a plan back to feeling fit and fantastic in your skin. Don't dwell in the blackened landscape. Find, gather and take in the elements that you need to bring those green shoots of life to the surface. You know what they are: love, dialogue, forward motion, physical contact, movement, positivity, strength. If you don't have them at the ready, seek them out. They are the things that make you thrive. Without them, you will fail.

It's too easy to watch the rock roll down the hill, not thinking you have to push it up again. This is not a choice. Don't even consider it one.

That voice in your head.