I'm sorry, did you say cancer? And thoughts on "getting over it"
I've had a myth in my head for far too long. A myth that said when things get hard - unbearable even - you have to just keep moving and eventually it will pass. Head down, hand to the plow...keep moving. Get past this and it will be okay on the other side.
Advice was a lot easier to give when I was in my early 20s.
"You've just got to get over it." That was usually my advice. Maybe because I thought time was supposed to heal everything just like the Hallmark cards prophesied. Skimming past a situation with your fingers crossed that it won't be too tragic is a solution. Get over it. Skip it and pray it never catches up to you.
As I've gotten older I have realized the faultiness of my advice. It seems life's arm has gotten stronger and the curveballs it throws are harder and leave bigger marks. There are some things we can't just get over.
Last week I started having unusual symptoms. I went to the doctor who was equally concerned. Tests were scheduled for this week. I was told that it could be cancer. Maybe other things were said, but that was pretty much all I heard.
For the next five days I had to try and live life as usual until test results came back in. I realize that for many people dealing with illnesses waiting five days isn't too bad, but for me it was almost unbearable. Waiting to find out if you have a tumor or not hangs over each minute no matter how hard you try not to think about it.
By the time Saturday morning rolled around I discovered that I had two choices. I could go on, pushing through my days acting like everything was okay. Ignore the problem and it will go away. Ignore the thought patterns and eventually they will blur into everyday thoughts. I could wait until the situation changed and then my fear would subside.
I could learn how to cope like this. I could "get over it".
Or I could walk through it. Acknowledge the moments my heart started to panic and resist the urge to drown myself with aimless distractions. Stop hiding from the distress that surfaced with every quiet moment. Ask the hard questions. Throw punches at Jesus for bringing me to a place that didn't feel safe.
I wrestled with myself, my imagination and the beliefs I desperately wanted to cling to. In the end I had a deep internal peace. Whatever the lab results told me, I was going to be okay. Tumor or no tumor, I decided I wouldn't let fear dictate how I lived.
On Tuesday I got the tests back. It was not cancer.
There could have been another outcome. I could have just "gotten over it". Shoved all the flaring emotions under the bed. Taking a deep breath when the news came in that I was fine. Then resume business as usual, keeping the debris of my heart hidden beneath the bed. Hoping it doesn't slide out when the next hurdle in life comes.
And that is what happens when we try to get over it. It is out of sight but never quite gone. Slowly making its way back into the middle of our lives when we aren't looking. Jumping at us whenever the next situation triggers it.
This is the myth so many of us believe when it comes to moving past our pain and weakness.
We stuff every moment with business or mind-numbing media. Some choose to fill their glasses with elixirs to make them forget and others laugh on cue - God forbid anyone see them cry. We work like puppets praying that someday - hopefully soon - we will wake up and it will be gone. All the pain, fear and insecurity.
Maybe one day we will wake up to realize we are no longer being hunted by the shadows of our past. But it has been my experience that things are rarely "gotten over". They are ignored and avoided, but never conquered.
Sometimes the best way to get over something, is to just go through it. ---> click to tweet
I wonder what would happen if we chose to just walk straight through our fires. If we quit trying to tame our pain into bitesize pieces that we have to digest for the rest of our lives. Sometimes our mountains we face just can't be ignored anymore. We've got to cross those cliffs and walk through the forests. Cause there is no getting over something like this.
There is no getting over your breakup, your loss, your abuse, your addiction, your diagnosis or your shame.
There is just getting through it.
Acknowledging instead of ignoring. Looking at the photos, feeling the pain. Laying on the cold tile 'cause there is no easy recovery from a blow like this. Crying the tears and writing out the words your heart utters silently inside. Letting ourselves grieve the things we have lost or the fear of what may be. Going there bravely when everything in us screams to run away.
We don't sit down or give up. We don't walk around it. We simply walk through it - asking God to carry us when we are past the point of our own strength.
Look around you, friend. I'm not sure where your feet are standing at the moment. I don't know what you are needing to walk through right now.
But you are destined for good places. Beautiful things are ahead for you - the kind that take your breath away for all the right reasons. Take heart friends. You can get through this.
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