This week is the last week of internal preparation before the Holy Days start. This year I am much more aware than I ever have been of what's been cooking inside me in response to Elul and the energy available at this time. Last year, at this time, I was mostly just contemplating the need to have a biopsy and worrying about having to get a mammogram. This year it's so easy to look back over the past 12 months and do a reckoning of where I've been and where I am and where I still need to g(r)o(ow).
This week it's all coming to a head and I find myself back to square one: I am in recovery and I still need to take good care of myself and rest and figure out what I need to do - how I need to organize my days - so I enjoy my life. The hardest lesson for me is no matter how much someone else seems to need my help, I absolutely have to say no if it interferes with my self-care.
When I went to the PCS open house last week, I ran into someone who looked familiar and said Hi to me. I said Hi back but couldn't figure out who she was. Later, when I realized who she was, it hit me really hard that I need to remember this past year and not run ahead full-speed trying to put it all behind me. The woman was my chemo nurse.
The Tamoxifen is helping me remember that I am still in recovery. I am tired from it and a bit more anxious and sleepless and pin-prickly from hot flashes while I dance in the morning. My chest is also a reminder that I'm still in recovery and need to sit down and watch TV sometimes and just stretch my left side so I don't develop scar tissue. It gets tight when I don't slow down to stretch.
Looking back, I know that I came through something very scary and just because I'm done with treatment doesn't mean I can steam full ahead and power out like I used to. I don't want to go back to the old me - the one who didn't pay attention to her body and tried to ignore the other physical problems I had. In my old mindset, my pains, fatigue, sugar problems, low immunity, anxiety, depression, insomnia, migraines, were all just something I had to learn to live with since I had no really good solutions. They were also something to be ashamed of...like if I were a better person and had a different personality, then I wouldn't have these problems.
Over the year, I've come out of guilt and into self-love. I still struggle with self-blame on occasion but what got me through this horrendous year was self-love, not criticism. I knew that if I went down the depression and self-pity and fear road, I would just give up and die. Instead, I found myself bargaining with HaShem and saying, "Hey, this is what's really great about me and I have more to give to this world. Let me live."
This carepages and my work with my clients kept me focused on the higher parts of my personality. They helped me to recognize and embrace my strengths. The Celexa helped of course too and I'm so glad I was open to increasing the dosage each time I felt myself spiraling downward. I knew that my positive attitude and my zest for life would give me the strength to beat this thing. I was unceasingly pushing my life force into the future.
Once I finished chemo and surgery, I couldn't wait to run full-blast into that future and found myself back to the old stressed out existence where I wasn't enjoying my work anymore. This Elul has brought me back home and helped me to realize that this the piece I still need to correct. If I let go of fears around lack of money this year, that will sustain me. If I let go of needing to suffer so that everyone else around me is happy, that will be a huge Tshuva. If I can remember to pay attention to my body and lower my stress level and keep up my exercise and increase my consumption of raw veggies, I will be putting this year's scare behind me.
Aimee's got a cold now and I remember how scared I used to be about catching things. I'm still a bit concerned but am more sure that if I continue to exercise, continue eating right, and rest enough to not stress out, I won't catch the cold. So that's my plan for the New Year. I'm still in recovery and need to keep taking care of myself very well. I am a delicate creation and a magnificent treasure and I want to honor that and protect my sense of the sacredness of who I am and what I deserve in this life.