How Did I Change So Much, So Quickly?
What holds us back most from growth
I’ve made a new kind of peace with my cancer diagnosis. I know this because recently I nearly fell asleep in the PET scan machine. My Grandma Faye was sitting beside me, humming a lullaby in a rocking chair made of moonlight that she’d brought with her from the afterlife. “All news is good news,” she whispered, “You’ll understand someday.” My grandma was a seamstress in this world. When I was young she’d knit my mittens too big so they’d still fit me as I grew. Did my grandma knit my heart too?
During my first scan, two and half years ago, I thought the worst thing they’d find would be a stomach infection, but still had to take a double dose of klonopin to quiet the hyena of my fear. When the technician’s voice came through a speaker on the wall, I was trembling. “Um…Andrea…could you please pull your jeans down past your hips so we can get a view of your pelvis?” Pelvis? I knew my doctor hadn’t ordered a scan of my pelvis. I left my body and hopped a train of terrible thoughts back to the year my aunt died of ovarian cancer, and in her absence, my Grandma Faye died of a broken heart. The technician broke protocol to walk me out to my car. We stopped twice in the parking lot so I could hyperventilate in his arms.
How did I change so much, and so quickly?
When our dog Taki died of cancer years ago, Meg clutched her body to her chest the whole drive home from the vet, buried her with her bare hands in our garden, and planted daisies above her that have returned every year. There is a meadow across the street from our home. “If they see something on the scan,” I tell myself, “I will run into the meadow across the road, my pockets full of daisy seeds, a small shovel in my hand. Next Spring, Meg will look out our bedroom window and see ‘I LOVE YOU’ written in rows of daisies stretched from one side of the meadow to the other.”
Is it dark to write that down? What I mean is—is it dark to share this light? The peace I’ve found in places we are taught it can’t be found? The warmth I feel while growing into my knitted heart?
How did I change so much, and so quickly? I learned to love the me who hadn’t changed at all. The me who worshiped worry. The me who made a complaint department of my mind. The me who turned my wounds into microscopes through which I saw the worst in people, especially myself. The me who got it all wrong. The me who was so afraid of death I couldn’t help bury our dog.
This I now know for certain: I do all of growing during the times in my life when I am offering compassion to the parts of myself that have not yet grown. I never once managed to shame myself into a version of me I loved more (and trust me, I spent decades trying). As Meg says, “shame is never fertile soil for growth”. A better world is not created from a planet of people hating themselves, but hate’s opposite. Sweet community, I hope as you read this today, you can scan yourself, look deep within, and decide every part of you is good news. And I would love to hear about a time where loving a part of you that felt harder-to-love was the seed of some incredible shift.
Love, Andrea 🖤
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