I have been blessed by another person wanting to share their insight and reflections. I am deeply grateful for their honesty and truth in providing a piece of their story to my blog and it’s readers.
I have known this person for a very long time. I have said before I think we were sisters in a past life.
I am filled with gratitude that I have the honour of sharing my current life with this person.
As the saying goes when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. My “sister” is making one mean lemonade with her insights.
Always here for you with big love and support. Namastè
Yesterday I was a little lost. Not for the first time along my path and not as deeply as I have been before, but enough to lead me looking in the search for some inspiration. I could not see the path to my own well and I needed the words of someone else.
We all have our suffering, we all have our challenges and at different stages in our life they can change in the kinds of difficulties we have to overcome.
I have had my share of psychological, physical, spiritual and emotional challenges but these past 5 years in particular have presented me with more health challenges than I could have bargained for. They have challenged my core beliefs, my relationships, my life and spirit on every level.
Five years ago I was diagnosed with SLE. Three years later they discovered 3 cerebral aneurysms. Two months ago I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and two days later the possibility of Endometrial Cancer, of which I am still in the process of resolving. I am 37.
Most of the time I have been able to turn things this way and that in search of the silver lining. Sometimes it has proven more elusive than others. Yet I have always found a way to feel stronger, more grounded and more ready to face the challenges before me. Usually after a diagnosis, another invasive test, another question, I wobble for a few days and then regain my stability, regain my center balance and face upward and outward once again.
However before the 1st neurosurgery I became terrified. I had lost my faith in life, I did not trust that it would be successful and I was convinced that the surgeons would disrupt the aneurysm during the surgery and that I would not survive. The fear of not being here to protect my then 3 year old son, to lay with him at night, to hold his hand, to kiss his cheek, to hear him babble and watch him change and grow, to know that he would be grieving for me and that I could not heal his pain, was paralysing. I could not move forward and commit to the surgery. I wasn’t ready. People said to me that I would never be ready but I knew in my heart that I needed to be in a stronger place of faith going into it, if I was to expect a good outcome. These were what I thought were to be my darkest days and I rode each wave in the storm, desperately holding onto to the sides of my little wooden boat in the dark. Sometimes my husband was in the boat with me, sometimes my mother, sometimes my father, my brother, my sister, an aunt, a cousin or friend, sometimes my animals but mostly alone…Sometimes the fear would wake me up in the night, gripping me as the tears rolled down the side of my face, crying quietly so as not to wake my son, nestled in beside me…And then one day, I read a quote….about the valley of darkness…about not being alone…and the waves subsided, the thunder, the rain and the lightning stopped and the sun rose over my little boat and I felt calm. I felt ready. And I faced my surgery with courage. It was not without its challenges and tests, but I definitely walked the path with more strength from this inspiration that I had found or had found me…I found my faith and I walked on.
Then two months later after a routine check-up for secret women’s business, I was to be left breathless. They had found a problem with my endometrium and more testing was to follow to rule out a range of reproductive cancers… I could not believe it. Surely with the SLE, the fibromyalgia, the 3 cerebral aneurysms, of which I still had more neurosurgery to face, I had been “given” my share? In truth, I do not believe that life/God works like that, but in the moment the feelings of injustice were overwhelming. I already felt and faced a great deal of limitations from my other illnesses that challenged me greatly…and we wanted to have more children…
These two months have passed silently. I didn’t want people to know. I wanted to curl up in a cave inside myself until it all passed over. During the time that followed my boat was definitely waging a war in the storm…One day I went to mass looking for a lighthouse…And the universe delivered. My priest said that, “…suffering will not have the last word.” I almost burst into tears sitting on that little wooden pew on my own in my little country church. It was exactly what I needed to hear and I felt saved from my storm. The sun came out and I held fast to my little boat, brave and safe with the knowledge that things would ultimately be ok. At some point, there would be peace. I believed it.
Towards the end of the two months we were given some incorrect information about my condition and for a brief moment some of the pressure was lifted…Then yesterday at my appointment with my specialist, the possibility of Endometrial Cancer was put back on the table…along with more surgery…and no children at least for the short term.
I was defeated, deflated and I was angry. Not the yelling, shouting, red-faced kind of anger, but the quiet, brooding, coursing through you kind of anger that is apathetic to optimism…By night time, I knew that if I was to get through the next waiting period, until surgery and waiting for it’s results, I was going to need something to set me straight again, and get my little boat moving forward. I decided to scour the TED site, my uncle had mentioned it to me and I had previously found some very moving stories there so I looked…. and I looked… and nothing was quite what I needed to hear. Then I saw the heading for Three Minute topics and as it was getting late into the night and my son would be up early, I thought I probably had time to squeeze in one last look.
The universe always delivers.
It wasn’t earth shattering for me, it wasn’t spellbinding for me, which is not to say that it may be for others, but for me it was a reminder. A gentle, soft reminder to look deeper. I have found that different things, different people will give you the inspiration that you need at different times, in different forms along the way, in the measure in which you need it. This story reminded me to look with eyes open about the possibilities of the gifts that the challenges could bring, to keep on looking forward, waiting, hopeful, expectant for good things to come, rather than to just brace myself with courage, or strength, fighting off fear with my sword and my shield. I do think that these have been fundamental to me along the way, but I think that I may have just found a new place in which to come from, armed with my faith along the way.
And so my gifts from SLE, from fibromyalgia, from 3 cerebral aneurysms and now this new gift in no particular order are… the gift of appreciation (by the bucket load); for health, for my son, for my family and my friends, for my horses, for life, for others, for the plights of others, for moments and for peace. They have given me the gift of courage (by the bucket load); to face my fears, to hope, to ride my horses as much as I can, to take my family to Paris for Christmas and recover from my neurosurgery there, to stand up for my body and my feelings, and to have conversations with people about real life. They have given me the gift of inspiration; to write my novel, my children’s books, to develop new artistic skills and new ways of thinking. They have given me the gift of much learning (by the bucket load); to slow down, to be self disciplined, to accept help, that others feel good from helping me and that this is something that I can give them in return. It has reminded me to seize my life, to apologise, to forgive, to love and to let go. Most importantly it has given me the gift that led me back to my faith and shown me the quality of life that I can have, if I choose to be open to it.
And so, in the sunlight of all these gifts, how can I not be grateful for what I face and for what is to come and to be reminded that the universe delivers everything that I need…And that I am not alone in my struggle.