What did I do in the beginning?
I took out a pen and paper and I wrote, and wrote and wrote
trying to make sense of it all…
When the storm began…
I live on a very quiet street in a small town and I like it that way. My home is tucked behind my neighbor’s home on a private drive. I am quiet and shy. My life is safe and predictable. But one day, that all changed. One day a thief came in the night and stole something— the thief stole me.
It was in early December. Everyone, including me, seemed to be pulling out nostaligic Christmas boxes of decorations, going out to buy Christmas trees, hustling to bring in the Christmas cheer. That was when my identity was taken, completely by surprise. I did not realize, as I was doing preparations for this time of the year, that there was darkness lurking outside, looking through my windows. The darkness must have been there, plotting, for a long time. I was not prepared; shocked that darkness could sneak through my fortress, my place of safety, my home. But it didn’t stop there. That darkness somehow, penetrated my body, and I was to never be the same again. I was kidnapped from my life! My identity, as I once knew had shattered.
It was then I found I had cancer.
Here is how it went in my memory:
First, I was blindfolded and squeezed tightly through a window—(mammogram and ultrasounds) and pulled out into darkness with shrubs and branches rubbing against me by my abductor.
Then I was put in a dark trunk stomach down, feeling weird and awkward. My heart was pounding in my chest and my body trembled. (core tissue biopsy) I must have been beaten at this time because I came away from the trunk bruised, cut, and sore. I was too scared to remember or fight back. I did not know where “I” was.
I felt isolated. A woman came in to my room (my surgeon) and very calmly told me my life would never be the same. Then she proceeded to tell me more. She left the room and even though I could hear voices, I instantly felt locked out of the world.
(The first time that I heard I had cancerous cells and would need surgery.)
I sat in shock. I wanted to go home. I wanted to be with my family. I wanted to eat dinner around my dinner table, or do a load of laundry, or drive one of my kids to practice. I wanted to go back to my life. But all that I could feel was frozen and I knew I had to sit quietly and wait…
Wait? I am not sure for what. But after any type of unexpected shock that takes you by surprise, there is a time to just keep quiet and take in what has happened. This is what I needed to do. To let it all be absorbed and to try to get a grip in my mind of what just happened to me.
I mostly felt numb. I could not concentrate. I tried to pretend this was not happening. I would try to distract myself with what was around me, but it didn’t take the fear away.
I would sit in a corner and cry. When I would sleep, I was trying to escape from the terror of it all. When I woke up, I was reminded it was not a dream. I felt angry, I screamed, I yelled. I pinched myself— I wished to sleep, to have release! I curled up in a ball and wished to disappear, but in a way– I already had.
But the torture had only begun. I was taken out of the dark room and placed in the middle of New York City during the Christmas holiday and was put in a chair, tied up. I could see every part of the world bustling. I felt cold and uncomfortable. (Telling everyone I had cancer) People, in their hurried lives would bump into me, and many would ignore me and walk right by. Some would smile and wave. People would pat me on the shoulder and say, “Oh, that is really sad.” And keep walking. Some would even stay awhile and ask what happened or why I was there or even go as far as ask to help. But then they would hug me and would hurry on with their lives and I would sit there and watch everyone, and yet still feel bound. And I wished to be released. I wished for Christmas. I wished to be back in my life. I wished my wishes would really come true.
It was then that my outward appearance began to change. I was cut and stitched. I was drugged and became sick. I lost all of my hair. I lost my eyelashes and eyebrows. My eyes did not belong to me. I would look at my reflection and see a white ghost of a human and wondered who I was looking at. Where was me!? I had not only been kidnapped from my life, but my identity had been taken as well.
Then the stirrings inside me began. That is when I decided I had to plot my escape from this thief. The situation was not going to go away. The old frightened me would have been submissive to this fate. But, the new person coming out, did not want that to happen! I WANTED TO FIND MY LIFE!! I wanted to be me and be a part of life. And now, I had to decide how I was going to do that after being kidnapped and treated so unfairly.
First I knew I had the desire to try. I had already done the hard part—focus on a goal! I wanted to get my mind away from the terror of the situation and move on to what I wanted it to do for me. Sitting in a dark room waiting for the abductor (cancer) to get me is not going to make life worthwhile— I may not be able to take that out of the situation, but I don’t have to dwell on it every second. If I dwell on that fear, it will take me over. It is okay to cry, it is a tension release. But then, I get up my resolve to make the most of the situation. I have to work at it!! I still never know when my abductor will attack.
Next, I need to discover what I have to work with. And as I do I find things I did not realize, that could be helpful for me! That is when the real focus of the situation becomes powerful!! The miracles begin to unfold. The wishes become real. The attitude of the situation becomes changed. The learning, molding and shaping of the new me begins to unfold.
For me there are 3 specific things that I have done thus far:
First and most important is my faith in God. I believe that God loves me. That I am special to him and he understands me. I hold on to the knowledge that I am not alone in this trial. That God is with me. Things from God are good, and happy, and full of light and hope. My abductor is evil and dark. I believe that darkness eventually is taken over by light. So I try to stay positive, feel grateful and pray…a lot.
I appreciate little things. My soul is more open to spiritual things.
The second thing is that while I am held hostage in a room there are little birds that fly in and out constantly. (my support group.) Some have stayed with me as a constant vigil, like they know that I do not want to be alone. Others bring me crumbs to eat regularly, some sing me beautiful songs, and some just sit close and let me feel their warmth. I am learning that I need little birds! Facing challenges alone is not good. They give me strength and a will to keep going.
The last thing that I have as a tool is a gift from God, a creative mind. I did not think that it would come in handy during this challenge, but I have depended on it.
Before I was kidnapped I used my creativity to bring joy, and fun to my soul and the lives of others. I use it for that now. It has helped me make the situation laughable!
I have written silly stories and songs which make me feel light hearted and get me through some of the tortures that hurt or are frightening or disfiguring.
Have I become free? Have I found where I am? Not completely. I am still learning and searching. But a new person is evolving. My identity as I knew it has changed. But I will now adapt to the new me. And the new me has become richer, stronger, braver, and yes, better.
When God sorts out weather and sends rain, Why, rain’s my choice! (A Predictable Process for Joy, By Wallace Goddard)