Evening Out

It has been 11 days since my last chemo treatment. Though many of the side effects are still present and may be for months to come, some things are beginning to even out.

My mental clarity is better already, and this is a huge blessing. I’m beginning to be capable of thinking about plans for the day, what’s for supper, etc without feeling panicky and like I can’t connect two thoughts. Just the fact that every little thing overwhelmed me mentally has been difficult for everyone.

Emotions are evening out as well. Since the mama is the thermostat for the house, I see the overall mood and emotional state of the household improving even as my personal emotions stabilize. This is HUGE, especially for those in the house for whom emotions are uncomfortable and difficult.

I am able to be up and doing more and more each day. Bit by bit, normalcy is returning. We still have a long way to go, but every little ounce helps. The household has been in such disarray and this has been one of the most difficult seasons of life. I fight feeling guilt about this. After all, I am the one that had cancer. All of this difficulty, this rocky road, started with me. I look around and see the struggle of everyone in my family and know that they are fighting for a breath of fresh air–because of me. I know in my head that this is unreasonable–I didn’t volunteer for this. And yet, somehow, part of me assumes responsibility and feels at fault. Thanks to the grace of God, most days I am able to let that part go and remember that all of this was ordained and allowed, for a purpose. It’s not about me at all.

You see, when cancer hits, it doesn’t just hit the person who was diagnosed. When one person has cancer, everyone in the family has cancer. Friends have cancer. The church body has cancer. Why this disease is so far reaching, I’m not sure, but it is. And so I’m learning that my family needs recovery time, too. They aren’t done processing, feeling, and hurting. Some of them have barely started.

Up until now, I haven’t been capable of much more than tending to my own treatment and process. Out of necessity, I have been pretty centrally focused. Nobody faults me for that, and I don’t fault myself. It’s the nature of the cancer beast. Regardless of the prognosis, there is a certain amount of the cancer life cycle that is simply survived. Some processing can happen during that phase, but much cannot.

And so my prayer focus today is for my kids. I’m praying for them to see the grace of God through this dark cloud. I’m asking the God of all comfort and peace to overwhelm them and walk them through the process of their own healing, even as I heal. I want them to look back one day and see their mom’s cancer journey as a place of growth and change–a necessary refining fire in all of our lives. I don’t want them to look back in bitterness and anger. But that’s God’s business. All I can do is lay them at His feet and let Him do His work.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 ESV

Pride

Last night, I hit a wall.

Actually, I hit the floor when I tripped over someone’s leg. There was no permanent damage, and it hurt much less than I feared on the way down. The only damage done was to the thin veil over my emotions.

Diagnosis. Surgery. CPAP, Chemo. Frustrations that come with harvest and cattle buying. Constant conflict between certain of my children. My household not running the way I’d like, despite my family’s effort. Inability to be active. Gaining weight due to inactivity. Boredom. Lack of energy. An overtaxed husband who hasn’t been home much.

In one moment, all of my “okayness” went out the window and I burst into tears. I needed to cry. All of these things weigh on me and most days, I do okay, letting God shoulder the load. But I forget that my humanness needs an outlet. Emotion isn’t right or wrong, it just is.

The thing about it is that emotion acts like a shaken bottle of soda. All the different bubbles move and grow and eventually need to come out somewhere. When I loosen the cap gradually and allow bubbles out a little at a time, all is well. When I keep the lid tight, eventually the bottle will explode.

What followed my emotional outburst was a rough night. Sleep was scarce and my fatigued body did not get the rest it needed. That frustration led to another breakdown, around 4 am. I’m tired this morning, but at least partially unburdened.

I’m terrible at allowing myself to express emotion. Somehow, in my mind, being strong and surrendered also means being stoic. My heart knows better. My heart understands that emotion is real and necessary and the expressing of it is healthy for my soul, mind, and body.

And so, it would appear that the next steps of my journey involve allowing myself to not be okay. I need to allow my heart to override my mind and let out what needs to be expressed.

It’s not that I’m afraid I’ll be seen as weak. It’s back to the idea that I don’t want to burden others. It’s back to the feeling that I don’t want others to have to carry my load. It’s back to big, fat, ugly pride.

Most days, I’m really and truly okay. I still know God has a plan and is in control. I am still sold out and surrendered to His plan. However, I need to remember that every day I am still human. I have feelings and hurts and wounds, like everyone else. And showing them is absolutely necessary–for me and those around me. Forgive me, Lord, for my stubborn pride. Show me a better way.