Feeling all of the Feels
“This deep, dark place is where the magic happens. It can be awful, but it can also be super sweet. Let it change you, lean into it and let it transform you.” -My Guru, Jen during the Winter of 2012There are several ways to go through cancer. Lots of different paths to take when you’re getting a divorce. And a whole lot of options on how to deal with the death of someone you love. After a long disconnect with my emotions (like until I was 32), I’ve consciously AND unconsciously chosen to “feel all of the feels.” And in doing so, I’ve found myself in a whirlwind of chaotic sanity.Up until last week, I have told divorcing friends that going through a separation is as hard as cancer (minus the whole “you might die” part). With cancer, there were cheerleaders, love, support, community and prescription drugs covered by health insurance. When I divorced, there was loneliness, judgement, guilt, shame, sadness and not enough $20 bills to support my bottle-of-wine-every-night drinking habit (who am I kidding… it was $60 and tequila). Well. Perhaps that stage of my life was to prepare me for the complete and utter isolation that I feel now. This past month has been the darkest, most silent, scary, loud and confusing mind/heart fuck that I have ever experienced.As predicted, the proverbial “funeral” is over. The caterers have packed up every last dish and the Uncles and Aunties have returned home to their regular lives. I’m left feeling like I’ve spent 10 months on a spaceship and am reemerging into a world that looks so different than the one that was there before my diagnosis.My divorce was 5 years ago and it was a big turning point in my life. I left one of the good guys. He was (and I’m sure still is) honest, loyal, funny and very attractive. I left a religion that I had been brought up in since birth (one that believes that I will go to hell when I die because I walked away from it). Friends left me and I left them. I lost a family that I had been a close part of for 13 years. It was a mess. I was a mess. And instead of replacing my ex husband for a new husband, finding another religion and claiming new friends and family as my own; I sat in my shit. I stayed there, fully present without a “fight or flight” move and it sucked. I cried. I mean I SOBBED into pillows. I let the tears stream down my face at the sparse Easter table with my disappointed, but VERY loving and supportive parents by my side. I hung my head even though I knew I had made the right decision because that teeny tiny voice called my gut had been screaming at me to get out of both my marriage and “the church.” I remember Petey telling me over the phone from LA, “you have to keep going, other people are going to tell you what THEY want you to do so that THEY can feel better about what you’re doing and THEY won’t have to worry about you.” I spent so much time alone. By the way, Sundays are the worst. I swear it’s when that asshole, Loneliness comes over and takes control, grabs you at your throat with his bulging knuckles at the back of your neck and holds you hostage against a wall for 24 hours. Dick. But… in spending all of that time alone in my public brokenness, in thinking, and feeling all of my feels, I learned a lot about myself, about this life, about the power of “me,” the power of “you,” and who and what “God” is (to me). I cracked beyond where the pavement meets the dirt and then slowly started to rebuild my life. It’s when I “woke up.” I found this life to be sweet, exciting, and full of possibilities. There was a lightness. I was no longer held back by (as much) fear. I opened my eyes to see that coincidences aren’t just coincidences, but rather little arrows along the way to say, “yep, this is the right direction, you’re on your authentic path.”And so now that I’m in the beginning stages of my “first year out” of cancer, I’m having yet another awakening. They say it’s the hardest 12 months. I’m no exception. There’s so much. It’s not just the HEARTBREAKING “survivors guilt,” that I feel when I hear a cancer story that ends up in death. It’s not just the anxiety that no Ativan, meditation/prayer, yoga, RHONY or Sam/Mike love can distract me from the week before I get scoped to see if the cancer has returned (it hasn’t). It’s not just trying to desperately fit in with other moms by talking about size 4 diapers and other baby advice that is important, but doesn’t take up much of my head space. And it’s not just the obvious shift in perspective to savor each day like it’s my last. It’s more. This past month has been so deep because I’ve been sitting in my shit. Again. And it feels like destruction is all around me because everything is out of order. I’m constantly in my head. Spinning. My old pal, Mr. Loneliness has shown up every day (not just Sundays) because he knows that my changes are going to make OTHER people uncomfortable when I say them out loud, and that THEY may not accept me for who I have become…again. Because I let the cancer change me.The short version is that I’ve gone into a Spiritual realm that I didn’t know was possible. And it’s because I don’t want to fear death, and even deeper than that; I don’t want to fear leaving Sam and Mike behind to live this life without me. And I’m not saying all of this because I’m dying. There IS no sob story about my life. This is me being stronger than I was before cancer and simply facing my very real fears. I just want peace.So here’s what I know to be my truth, right now, on today, July 31, 2017: I believe that this Universe is an orchestration of coincidences, of life, of death, of good, of evil, and of spirits/angels who are unseen but heard to those who are open to receive. And I believe that my soul is so much bigger than just this life that we have on earth right now and my physical body. I believe in (but don’t know much about) past lives, and I believe in (but don’t know much about) future lives. And I believe that nothing in this life is guaranteed, including life.See. Now you understand my hesitation to speak my truth, but fuck Mr. Loneliness and his stupid gold rings around his hairy knuckles suffocating my voice. This is what has come from my trauma and I’d rather connect with a few crazy friends who get what I’m saying (or continue to listen and respect the Russian that I’ve learned ((even if they don’t quite get it)) while I was away chasing Sputnik for 10 months) than politely bite my tongue around a whole auditorium of people just so that THEY can feel comfortable. And please know that I’m not trying to convert, question, or discourage whatever it is that YOU believe. You do you.Last September when Allan died it didn’t come as TOO much of a shock because we always knew he was not long for this world. On the outside, he feared NOTHING. He was sarcastic, loving, hilarious and had THE WORLDS BEST shit eating grin. In his short 36 years, he basically lived 9 lives, before his 10th took him. My ex husband was Allan’s best friend so he rightfully won Al in the divorce. When I got my cancer diagnosis, my mortality was immediately shoved in my face. I was stripped down to nothing. And instead of hiding under a rock or eating ice-cream sandwiches and watching MASH reruns, I’ve decided to feel the feels and listen to my own voice about what “mortality” means to me. I share Allan with you because ever since my recent awakening, he has been with me every day. And I promise you, I’m not crazy. You can interpret “with me every day” however you would like. Without getting too caught up in heaven or hell, or past lives and future lives; just being open to the possibility of our souls simply living on is so freeing and encouraging to me. To feel it in my gut, to know its truth in my soul, to see the coincidences and road maps that have gotten me to this day is deeply comforting. And once again, the light has started to break through the darkness.