Talking To The Trees
A lot of people have been asking about my healing progress. A question I've wanted to answer for a while but these last weeks and months have found me immersed in a crucial piece of my healing: tracing my way back to the root source of this imbalance that has taken both physical and emotional expression in my body. To answer the question, "How am I healing?" its important to understand the progression that brought me to this diagnosis.
For the majority of my life I have lived in fear. I learned it at a young age and eventually identified its presence in my life, as normal. It became the background noise of my life, like of a neighnor's young child or traffic along the street outside, it was a part of every day life. My father was an incredibly wounded person and I know he loved me but his pain inevitably spilled out over those around him - in particular me - it would seem I was an easy target. I would come home from school in the afternoons, take my loyal dog and best friend Licorce, head to my room and set up my books and pillows in the farthest back corner where I would sit in anticipation. First it was the garage door opening, alerting me he was home from work. Then it would be the heavy, loud steps trudging up the basement stairs in to the kitchen and not too long after that I would hear his weighted steps climbing the stairs to my room. For the next hour or several, he would scream at me. Sometimes he would call me downstairs to show me how I didn't rinse the dishes off well enough, or berate me because I ate the last slice of pie. He would get in a good dose of screaming and then thwack my butt hard once I was dismissed and turned to run back up to my room. This is how life went for a long time and fear became my companion. I would find refuge out in the woods, wandering for hours talking to the trees and following the stone walls dreaming that one day I would find a wolf and go live with the Native Americans in a far off land. I never found my tribe but I did find much comfort and ease, surrounded by the trees and birds; nature was loving and safe. It was also a channel for connection that I was cultivating without realizing it.
It took me many years to honor the depth and force of impact this person and time in my life had on me; to allow myself to feel the reverberations and let the residual muck go. My older sister was always the edgy bold one, ready to make her opinion heard whether you wanted it or not; this boldness carried her far away from our dysfunctional home. I had an edge too but it was lost beneath thick layers of fear for so long. Anger scared me because I saw what it could do to a person and the last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt someone else the way I had been hurt. My father was not evil, he was deeply wounded and simply never learned to truly love his own inner child, a very sad little boy who himself had a terrifying childhood. "The fact is, children learn how to relate to their experiences from how WE relate to our own." ~ (Shefali Tsabary)
So what does all of this have to do with my body developing breast cancer? Everything. The events are just the details. We have all experienced pain in our lives. Eventually I was free of that toxic environment, though I had already cultivated deep patterns of fear in my life. Its one thing to run to my room when the source of fear approached, but once I was older I had to make my own way in the world with this fear-in-tow. "Fear has a paralyzing effect and undermines the body's ability to heal. It is well known that the body cannot heal well when it is under stress." Stress became another layer of background noise, coloring the lens of my experience in all reaches of my life. At 18 I found myself in what would become a 10-year long relationship and eventual marriage to the father of my daughter. He provided a soft landing. A place to nurse my wounds which I did for a time. His unconditional love was healing to me and I am forever grateful for that. Ultimately though, I needed to stand on my own. It would take me those 10 years to finally have the courage to speak up and declare that I was no longer happy, my soul was slowly suffocating and I needed to move on. By far the most painful time of my life, the divorce and stepping in to single-motherhood without a penny to my name would ignite fear and stress on a whole new level and for the next 10 years I would fumble along through life, rooted in survival mode, determined to stay afloat and create a better life for my daughter.
*"Cancer, the physical disease, cannot occur unless there is a strong undercurrent of emotional uneasiness and deep-seated frustration. *Cancer *patients typically suffer from lack of self-respect or worthiness, and often have what I call "unfinished business" in their life. Cancer can be a way of revealing the source of such an unresolved inner conflict. Furthermore, cancer can help them come to terms with such a conflict, and heal altogether. The way to take out weeds is to pull them out along with their roots. This is how we must treat cancer so as not to foster recurrence." (Andreas Moritz)
Survival mode is a great mechanism for short term circumstances, a built-in resilience that we can count on to get us through tough times. But I remained in survival-mode for 10 years and the resulting impact on my life would prove to be deeply destructive to my physical and emotional health. In addition, I adopted all the coping mechanisms I could, seeking escape in relationships, looking for ease in a glass (or two or three) of wine; I numbed out and set up camp in a place called victimhood. Once the mind takes root in the belief that we are victim to our circumstances our entire being takes on this expression and it begins to shape our life on all levels. "We find it very hard to change our patterns of behavior, however self destructive, becuase of the very nature of the way mind, senses, organs of action, and the external environment work together." (BKS Iyengar)
There have been wake up calls, little prods from the universe along the way, attempts to redirect the destructive path I was traveling. To me these nudges looked more like failure or life essentially falling apart; endings but I didn't listen. I wasn't ready to recognize that these were signals that my life was not working and desperately needed me to change. Instead I kept pushing ahead full force, head down, eyes on the end goal, I was determined to survive; just as I had to do so many years ago with my father. That approach served me well then, however I didn't need to survive life anymore - I needed to live it. The nudges clearly weren't enough and one day only 6 months ago, I recieved a blaring alarm ringing with the force of a punch to the stomach. There was no ignoring a breast cancer diagnosis. I could have ignored it. I could have played victim. I could have continued on living my life as I had been and expect my treatment of choice to "fix this". But I chose none of the above.
My healing began the minute I made the decision to follow my intuition and actively participate For years I have studied various forms of healing and I knew in my heart of hearts that we participate in the state of our health - or lack there of- every single moment in thought, word and action. It can take years for something to manifest physically but eventually it will. Mainstream medicine treats the symptoms but not the root cause of what's really going on. Ultimately, the body wants to thrive but its up to us to provide the nourishment it needs. Whether it be environmental, emotional, lifestyle choices or all of the above, we do ourselves the highest honor when we choose to educate ourselves and become conscious about what we are putting in to our body; treating it as a temple rather than a garbage disposal.
Generally speaking, healing is not only physical; especially when it comes to cancer. Although in the case of childhood cancers where there are toxins coursing through the body due to chemical exposure (pesticides and vaccines most commonly) much of the healing will be based in the physical body as flushing and cleansing are essential. Cancer had been an extremely rare illness up until the last 40-50 years. Our standard American diet, lifestyle (physical and emotional) and stress level is absolutely a major factor in the creation of dis-ease and each person must decide for themselves how much they are willing to change in order to create a dynamic and vibrant life that supports the optimal functioning of this body, this mind, this soul. This was the question I had to answer for myself: How far was I willing to go, how much was I willing to change in order to fully heal? This is where my focus has been over these last five months and I can say with certainty that much of the lifestyle I have adopted I will absolutely be sticking with long term.
So here I am five months into my regimen. How am I doing? Most importantly I have learned to listen. Listen to what my body needs rather than placing demands on my body. Working with what IS. Turning inward and acknowledging the wounded self within and saying "I hear you now and I recognize you are hurting. I am willing to listen to you and nourish you. I care about you." On a physical level I chose to remove acid-forming, congesting foods from my diet and replace them with alkalizing, nutrient-dense, plant based healing foods. There is also an emotional component to changing our diet that I had to face and quickly realized all the ways I had clung to certain foods or drinks more out of emotional comfort than anything else. Rather than demand any kind of exercise from my body I worked with what this body needed. Early in my regimen I needed more rest, long walks and restorative yoga. Over the last couple months my body wanted a good sweat-inducing run and other times a long stroll has been my medicine. After stepping away from my yoga practice for a while I now feel its something my body is truly hungry for and so I listened.
I no longer experience fatigue or the 'afternoon slump'. My skin is clearer, energy levels are higher and I no longer fear the occasional cat-nap for its in these quiet moments my body restores and regenerates. My eyes, though subtle, have begun to change color revealing specks of green behind what has always been dark chocolate-brown. I no longer experience kidney pain and I am oh-so-happy to declare my newfound appreciation and satisfaction of being a healthy pooper! Although it still requires my active effort to consume the foods/juicing that will help my body continue to heal. Any deep imbalance requires our active participation, sometimes over the long term in order to restore balance. As my body breaks down the cell tissue from the lump its been crucial for me to regularly sweat and keep detoxification active. The supplements I am on help a great deal with this as does regular use of the infrared sauna on a weekly basis. I also get plenty of sleep each night which is a vital time for my body to regenerate healthy cells.
And the lump? The lump is still there although its less than half the size it was in the beginning. And, truth be told, I'm not worried about that anymore. I don't worry about it, I send it love and talk to it regularly, for there is immense intelligence in each of our cells and love is a profound and healing force. "Healing occurs when there is no more need to fix what you believe is broken. The lump or tumor helps you to be in touch with that insecuirty and transform this in to courage and confidence." (Andreas Moritz)
I'm not waging war on my body. Its not waging war on me. I am loving my cells to wellness and actively creating an environment where cancer can no longer thrive and is no longer needed. This is my work. Recognizing the vicious pockets of stress in my life and removing them as well as learning how to cope and respond to life demands rather than freak out and panic. Allowing play and laughter into every day life has been a most restorative and therapeutic addition to my life, one that was surprisingly lacking in my world not long ago. It's about deciding that I am enough. That I am worth living this life fully and choosing accordingly each day. Yes, it requires effort and focus and practice at changing my thoughts from "You are flawed" to "You are perfect just as you are-lump and all." Its about becoming a co-creator of my life rather than a passive victim to whatever crosses my path. Early on in this journey I took to the woods and began to talk to the trees again, just as I did when I was a little girl. I've since found profound connection and deep love for myself and nature. Moments of rapture and awe that leave me with the most delicious knowing that I am not alone and I am on the right path. And so it is. XO