The mind can be a dumping ground for toxic waste. I have been in a bit of a funk lately. As I met with my therapist this morning we tried to pinpoint when it started. It comes and goes. I told him I felt detached, unplugged, and disengaged. I am not sure we actually could find out when it all started but it was not this week when I met with the oncologist for results. It was sometime earlier. Every time I leap into the future, I get dragged through muck. Staying in the present moment has been most helpful to me.
Explaining this crappy feelings to people usually raises alarm bells but that is not what I need. I think I am experiencing some sort of desolation but it could also just be hard consolation. Since seeing the oncologist, I have been quiet because I wanted to process without a lot of input. I do not want to reach out to people because honestly I do not have the energy to deal with reactions. As I said to the therapist today I suspect that the surrealness–and realness–of my illness has simply reached a new level. I am sad. I am probably a bit angry. I know that I will not get to finish everything I start at this point and that will have to be enough. A bizarre element of denial probably even exists. I look in the mirror and I see tired but I do not see dying. How can I feel this well and yet be this sick?
I have not told many people the outcome of the test results this week. The very good news is that there are no new mets and the old ones are stable. The tumours in the liver, as expected, have continued to grow. The symptoms I am experiencing will continue to increase. I broached the subject of another round of chemo with my doctor. She mentioned a different concoction than the original one she offered me a year ago. I listened to the side effects and said I would take some time to consider this option.
The truth of the matter is this chemo will either prolong my life or kill me but it will not change the ultimate outcome. The treatment will still be palliative and not everyone understands that. I suspect that I will be out of commission and circulation depending on how I manage the side effects. I will probably look sick. Living these past 12 months without chemo has given me an amazing year. I have lived well and undertaken many fabulous opportunities. I must discern what God is asking of me now. I keep coming back to the Principle and Foundation of the Exercises–long life or short, sickness or health–desiring and choosing whatever is most conducive for the purpose we have been created. I think that is where my discernment lies.
There are other questions regarding chemo. Do I do it now, later or never? I am not in pain and so I can wait a little while longer. The other question is what is more important — quality of life or length? That one seems like a no-brainer to me. Will I be able to do what I feel called to if I do chemo? Will I run out of time if I do not? Is chemo what God is asking me to do? Can I stand in Ignatian detachment and not cling to life? The questions are complicated.
My funk continues to come and go this afternoon. I am ok with that. I am not looking for sympathy. I believe that the funk has a few words it still has to say to me before I can move on. I am attentive to any thoughts that are not helpful. The other day while walking with a friend, she said she felt like a failure. As we walked on, I listened and then the words I offered her are ones that I would accept from someone. Feeling like a failure and being a failure are different. Stay in the emotion if you must but know that you are not a failure. We want to fix things too quickly, to run from emotions that want to teach us lessons. We must monitor the toxicity of our thoughts to ensure that the mind, heart and soul do not get dumped on. At the same time, we must let the emotions arise so that they come through us and not get stuck inside where they will do harm. Fear of feeling the emotions is not the place to stay. Rather, keep your eyes on the One who Knows and move through them. What is it that God is trying to say to you?
What toxic waste are you dumping into your life source?
What do you do with the hard emotions that arise within you?
Giver of Feelings, help us to sit with them and not push through them. Teach us how to learn from emotions we experience. May we embrace them without judging them unless they are harmful to our well-being, and even then, may we know that they arise to teach us something. Amen.