Our family started to go see a therapist, Dr. F, last fall. On top of all of my cancer issues and the fallout from that, my husband was on the road A LOT for work and we were struggling with kid issues. Teenagers are an interesting breed and that is putting it nicely. But that is a whole other post that I can only get out after I have had a bottle of wine. 2017 was an awful year, no way to sugar coat it.
When the husband and I went in for the first time, we shared our struggles and Dr. F said “Wow, you guys really have a lot going on! I can’t believe you have lasted so long on your own.” Since that time, we have gone back together and individually and have found it very helpful. One of the things which came out for me (during a role playing session where she was the cancer and I talked directly to it) was how ANGRY I am that cancer invaded my breasts. TWICE!! It is common sense that I am angry about my cancer, but I am generally not one to show a lot of anger. I am not a fighter; I can count the number of real fights that Nate and I have had in 10 years on my fingers, possibly even one hand. Not that we don’t disagree and I think he is wrong, because I am always right, and he thinks I am irrational and over-emotional, because that happens. But I am a repressor. I keep that anger inside and it comes out in snide comments or snappish behavior. I have kept the anger about the cancer bottled up. I don’t want to complain all of the time or be an angry person, so I ignore it. Dr. F. wants me to let it out, but in a healthy way. We put up a heavy bag in the garage after Christmas so I could use my new pink boxing gloves on it. I have been advised to put something on the bag which represents the cancer and punch and kick the crap out of it. I have not done it yet, not that I don’t think it is a great idea, but the thought of it is exhausting when I don’t have a lot of physical energy to go around.
I have been dong meditation on my own to relax at night and help me fall asleep. The app “Calm” is phenomenal, and I recommend it for anyone who wants to focus on relaxation, mediation, etc. It has breathing exercises, guided mediations, sleep sessions, music and nature sounds. During the day, I often lie down and use Calm or listen to a podcast (I am currently obsessed with “Wine and Crime”) to rest or even take a nap. I need to listen to something to be able to turn off my mind; if not it races in different directions. What do I need to do later or tomorrow? Which projects around the house are not getting done because I am resting? What is on my To Do list for Breast Friends or Cub Scouts? These are the things which I need to tune out. Having a pleasant voice guide me in breathing (or hearing about true crimes) does the trick.
In addition to being angry, I am also very afraid that the cancer will return, and I will end up with metastatic cancer in another part of my body. Last week, Dr. F led me in a guided meditation to help me address these fears. She said I could lie down on the couch instead of staying upright, but I was afraid that I was going to fall asleep and snore or drool. However, once she started talking in the soothing voice, I wished I was lying down. She rang her chimes and began to lead my mind. I was seated on a bench in a green field, facing a mountain. It was a beautiful, warm spring day with a slight breeze and with birds and butterflies in the air. To my right was a thick grove of trees, but it was inviting. I got up and walked toward the forest as if being called toward something. I found a very large, old tree along my path. As I got closer, I saw the outline of a large door, but without a handle. A light was shining around the door, glowing and pulsing. I knew I had to find that light within the tree. I placed my hand on the door, and it opened. I walked inside and while I could not find any source of the light, it surrounded me in the warm glow, and I was at peace.
I felt a presence beside me and turned to find my protector who I could count on when I feel afraid and who would fight beside me when I did not have the energy. Who was this presence you ask? Gandalf The White of course. His image was the one who came to my mind when Dr. F was talking about this guardian presence by my side. All I can picture is him yelling at any new cancer: “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” just like he yelled to the Balrog on the bridge. Yes, I know he is defeated on that bridge and goes down with the Balrog and he is technically Gandalf The Grey at that point, but I am thinking of him coming back stronger and ready to kick more ass as Gandalf The White. He is in my mind and going to help me keep any new cancer out of my body.
In the peaceful place in the center of the tree, Gandalf is also holding a pouch of pearlescent anti-cancer powder which he proceeds to toss lightly in the air and it floats down over me. Finally, I am ready to leave the tree and I head back out to the meadow and back over to the bench. However, now I know that I have my guardian by my side who will help to give me strength. Dr. F rang her chimes again and the meditation was over. I then knew that I have that power inside me and if I want to call it Gandalf and have him tell any new cancer to “F Off,” then so be it. Whenever I feel angry about what cancer has done to my life or anxious and scared that it might return, I can close my eyes, breathe deeply and head to the tree for a sparkly dust shower.
Yes, I do have a vivid imagination and am a huge fan of Lord of the Rings, but the guided meditation definitely helped me to focus on my own inner strength. And I choose to call it Gandalf. 🙂