I was unaware that I was sleepwalking through a broken life until a siren woke me up long enough to see the shards of my life at my feet; that wake up call was getting sick with a capital C.
Each time I had cancer, I was forced to learn something about myself (first time) and reinforce that lesson (second time). Cancer provides the ultimate in Pivotal Moments in the crappiest way possible.
In the best case scenario, a cancer diagnosis comes with a year long commitment of treatment and healing with plenty of opportunity to acknowledge the distinction between living and existing. For me that revelation was like opening the door to Oz; I had no idea I was limiting myself to a black and white existence and I was motivated to change.
The first time I got sick (2012), my friends and colleagues had a front row seat for the action which made it easier for them to offer their support and harder for me to refuse it. My pride tried to resist (I literally ditched my friend on the subway when she tried to escort me home from my first chemo treatment … it’s kinda funny), but I ultimately learned that there were people I could trust. Letting my friends in helped me in practical ways, but it also demonstrated that it was safe to let my guard down now and then. And it brought us all closer.
The second time I was diagnosed (2020) was another story. Being in the middle of a pandemic made it very easy for me to hide my illness (and fear). But all indications were that this would be a harder fight, and not only because I was dealing with two big C’s. I needed reinforcement and I realized that I was randomly telling people I spoke to, instead of proactively reaching out to those who would want to know and who would want to stand by me; who I wanted to stand by me. Calling friends to deliver my terrible message in the middle of a globally terrible situation was not comfortable, but it did result in much needed support.
In no way am I saying I’m grateful that I got cancer – I am not. But if we’re seeking out the lotus flower floating in its murky nest then it’s important to acknowledge what was learned and gained from these experiences instead of only being resentful of them.
These situations afforded me several insights:
- I’m a fierce MoFu
- Sometimes being a fierce MoFu isn’t the best solution. It definitely helps when taking on aggressive cancer treatment, but it is imperative to let go at some point, to rest and to grieve.
- I had to confront my compulsion for independence, a learned behavior from my past. I had to ask for help and I had to let people help me even if it meant they would witness my vulnerability.
- I was disentangled from the harnesses of society long enough to ask myself, What’s important? Who (not what) do I want to be? And am I living in alignment with the answers to these questions? This was the Pivotal Moment, providing the clarity and opportunity to realign so I can answer Yes to the last question.
This may contribute to my me-ness or maybe, it helped to reshape me.
Pivotal Moments is a collection of experiences that contribute to who I am. Have you considered what makes you, you?