May 15 2010
This morning I was in the waiting room of the Cottage Hospital Lab to get a blood test. In the next room I heard the frantic, pleading screams of a little girl named Emmy, “Noooo, noooo, nooooo!” The nurse was trying to draw her blood but Emmy was having none of it. She protested over and over again, screaming, crying, railing against her present reality, trying to outrun it, resist it, fight it.
Several of us who were in the waiting room witnessing this human drama gave each other knowing smiles. How many of us have had, or still have, a child inside of us screaming the same thing, “Noooooo! I don’t want this! Get me out of here!”
Her mother and the nurse were wrangling with her, telling her, “Emmy, just sit still, don’t be scared, it will be over soon.” I wanted to tell them, “Move toward the fear. Tell her you know how scared she is. Tell her it’s okay to be scared. Meet her where she is.”
I had a wonderful private phone counseling session yesterday with Mary-Margaret Moore, who channeled the Bartholomew books in the 80’s and 90’s, books that bring me more comfort and feelings of expansiveness than any other books I’ve ever read. With heartfelt compassion she counseled me to move toward my fears and pain and not resist them, to simply rest in them for a while, to just show up with whatever is happening, to stop efforting, stop trying to be elsewhere, even in a “higher” place, because, to paraphrase Bartholomew, “You are already there, and once you effort you have lost that place.”
In the session I got in touch with a painful belief that I have done something wrong; I’ve screwed up; I wasn’t relaxed enough to keep the cancer monster away. As much as I have felt empowered by the belief that my thoughts and feelings create my reality, there is a downside to that belief, a blaming and shaming of what I have manifested, what I have created. Mary-Margaret asked me to question that belief, is that true? Did I create it? Can I know that for sure?
The only thing I can know for sure is that cancer is here. Chemo and radiation are here. Nausea is here. I am here. When I stop questioning, resisting, and wanting it to be different, then I land on it — I show up, I come into harmony with this reality. Breathing and resting in what’s happening, no matter what it is, is the portal to the spacious NOW. Kicking and screaming and resisting, like little Emmy, is what creates most of the suffering, just as arguing with and resisting Emmy’s fear only compounded it.
When I come to that place of accepting my worst fears, when I stop resisting them and, instead, rest in them, I experience that it is not as bad as my mind had imagined. I used to think I would rather die than have persistent nausea. But when I rest in it and breathe with it, it’s not so bad. I am showing up with the throwing up. It’s not fun, but it’s not horrendous either. It just is. I feel a stillness as I surrender to it.
I am actually doing this cancer, chemo, radiation, nausea thing. I am doing it (and if I can do it, anyone can, though I hope you never have to). There is a beautiful song by Joan Jacobs that repeats two words melodically over and over again throughout the song, “I surrender, I surrender, I surrender.” I am singing that song.
When tear-streaked little Emmy finally came out of her torture chamber and walked by all of us compassionate witnesses in the waiting room, I wanted to reach out and hug her. Instead, I am hugging my own inner child who wants to resist reality, and I’m telling her, “I know this is scary. It’s okay to feel scared. I’m sorry this is happening. I love you.” She feels heard, she breathes, she starts to relax a bit, and to surrender. She shows up. And, to her surprise, she finds that it’s not as bad as her fear had made it up to be.
Is there a part of you that is in pain, a part of you that is kicking and screaming and resisting reality? I invite you to move towards what you’re feeling, meet yourself right where you are, and then give yourself a big hug. How brave we all are to be on this journey!