Messages From the Body: Breast Cancer

Every condition in our lives possibly exists because there’s a need for it to exist on the physical, emotional,  or spiritual level. Symptoms of un-wellness are the outward effect of the inner condition of an individual. A specific sickness is the natural, physical outcome of thought patterns and emotional disharmonies. They are coded messages from the body trying to communicate what is happening and what needs to happen in order to heal.

 The positive light, the gift if you will, is that illness and all un-wellness teaches us, expands us, and moves us on if we’re willing to listen.

 Awareness is the first step. But, it is the action of change that heals.

 My job is to help clients hear what the body is saying, and interpret the possible meaning. With that awareness, an actionable healing plan on the physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions is created. And then often, voila, a miracle occurs.

 I want to start sharing actual experiences with you every month because I think this may be the most helpful use of my experience.

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 Aishah came to me because she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was diagnosed on the day of her final second divorce proceedings that culminated in mutual shouting and an ashtray being thrown across the room.

 With each client, I take a comprehensive physical, emotional, and spiritual health history. This intake process often consumes the entire initial 90-minute session. This element of the process is the highlight of the work I do. I just love knowing people this deeply.

 What I learned about Aishah will be shared with you after you read what I believe her body is telling her by presenting her with breast cancer. A reality that once opened and explored, can be healed with a newfound awareness.

 What might the body be trying to communicate? I’ve had the pleasure of working with more thousands of clients with cancer, and hundreds specifically with breast cancer. I have also taken this specific healing journey.

 Some of what left side cancer might come to tell us includes:

 “I have to be perfect to be worthy of love”

You carry the weight of the world’s problems on your shoulders. You’re somehow responsible for everyoneelse’s happiness. No really, you are! If you throw a dinner party

 

and one single person fails to have a good time, you’re noodling over what you could have done better. If you overhear people arguing, you assume it’s you who’s done something to upset them. You listen hard for the list of your petty crimes, eager to make amends for it all. If you win a sport, or do well on an exam, or please anyone in any way, you’re already concerned about who you might have displaced when you won, how you could have studied harder, or how you could have done more…there’s always more to be done! You’re not perfect, and therefore you’re un-loveable.

 “Rushing to the rescue”

You avoid your inner pain by focusing on other people’s outer pain. You see it and feel it. You’re the first to rush in when someone faints in a grocery store. You rescue stray animals and love them back to health. You were maybe the best babysitter, or lifeguard, or hugger. You’re pretty sure that you can change someone or help others see them for their goodness. You try and find the spark in everyone because you secretly pray they’ll take the time to see the spark in you. You’re on every committee at school. You create beautiful spaces including your home. People comment on how effortless you make it all seem. And, it actually feels effortless until you drop into bed feeling utterly exhausted and unappreciated.

 

“Love-aholic”

You’re deeply loved by many people, but it can feel shallow. In fact, you’re really popular and people love being around you. You sparkle and smile. Others comment on this, but you can’t absorb the compliment. You worry that their love for you is only because they don’t really know you. And, you’re quite sure that if they did deeply know you, ultimately, they would reject you. You hold your true self back. You’re afraid to be vulnerable because you’re pretty sure no one will be there for you when you need them. You don’t know why you feel this way because people actually do show up and help you in your life. When they do, your itty, bitty, shitty committee does a lot of judging of what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. It’s just never ever good enough for you. You know you’re thinking this and you hate thinking this, and yet you can’t stop thinking this.

 “Sure, I’m down for that”

You’re known as a great listener. You’ll go see a movie you’ve already seen because that’s what the group wants to do. You’ll say yes to social engagements when you really just want to stay at home and catch up on sleep. You’ll do the last load of laundry, bake the class cookies, clear your emails, add to your to do list, and then, only then, go to bed with your head full of what else needed to be done…if only you were more organized, more capable, and more focused! You’re such a “yes man” when your inner bitch is screamin’ NO!

 “Oh the noise, the noise, the noise”

Even when surrounded by heaps of people, you can feel intense loneliness. You have so many scripts running in your head about how you’re just not good enough, don’t do enough, aren’t smart, pretty, or successful enough. You just can’t seem to find the off switch. In fact, all the self-deprecation feels like a warm comfortable blanket. You see the faces, real or imagined, of your parents, your partners, your bosses, or your friends, and it feels like it’s them telling you all this BS. But, you secretly know it’s you! The voices, the scripts, the less than just won’t quit!

 

“The rabbit holes!”

You fear abandonment more than words can capture. It comes up when you have an argument, when you approach your birthday celebration, or when you feel even slightly sick. Where will I go? What will I do? Who will be there for me? Can I survive this alone? Maybe I’m not worthy of surviving. Maybe I’d be better off dead. Where’s my money? Where can I run to? Who will take me in? How long will this last? Will I survive this? What another sees as a small argument or trivial incident or slight misunderstanding throws you under the bus of self-hate and loathing. It triggers a deep sense of loss of purpose and despair even though your rational mind is screaming “it’s only a small argument.” You’re so far down the rabbit hole that it can take days to recover. And, you hate that about yourself also. So you add that to the ever growing list of needed self-improvements!

 “Suffering Succotash”

This is the hardest part to absorb, although you know it’s true. You’re seething underneath like a volcano ready to erupt. You’re so angry, so full of rage, and so desiring revenge. You blame others. In fact, you’re a black belt at blaming others. They limit you; they hold you back. You can be so passive-aggressive, dismissive, controlling, jealous, and suspicious. You think that it’s because of another that you can’t go, or be, or do. And, it really irks you that  the person you’re blaming is usually completely unaware of how you’re feeling. They seem like a taker, and you’re quite sure that you’re the exemplary giver. Ooh and you hate yourself for even feeling these feelings because then you’re not perfect and then you’re not worthy of love. What a spiralling mish mash of a mess. You want to leave, walk out, run, but you don’t. There’s a part of you pretty sure that you’re insane. But, no one else really sees this but you!

 “I’m out of here!”

The left breast suggests that you’re sick (literally) and tired (utterly) of being everyone else’s tit, or let’s say rock. You’re pretty sure that you’re loved because of your over-giving, over-nurturing, superwoman behaviour, and you’re terrified of taking your Wonder Woman belt off. But, this time, you know deep within that you’re ready, more than ready, to insist on recognition, validation, appreciation, and acceptance. You’ve honestly arrived at a point in life where you can’t and won’t live without it. Oh but how...

 Back to Aishah…

 Aishah was the solid student, athlete, prom queen, and best friend to many, and an over-achiever. Her parents, while trying their best to be loving, were domineering, hyper-critical, unsupportive, and emotionally absent. It was a house full of anger replete with an abundance of screaming and yelling. She never ever remembers either parent apologizing or any resolution to anything ever. Aishah’s mother wasn’t exceptionally maternal, in fact Aishah felt that she was a bit of an after-thought; stood last to receive her mother’s attention.  Her father, while hardworking and a provider, was often absent to her emotionally. Her mother credited herself as the only sane one in Aishah’s dysfunctional family. Her mom proudly carried forward all the patterns of a maternal martyr. Aishah felt like she was living in a dominatrix where decisions were often made for her or she at least had less than full voice. Her home was a place of conditional love: you do it our way Aishah and maybe we’ll love you. Think for a second you can do otherwise, and you are out!

 

The healing for Aishah came over a period of a few months. She bravely decided to go where only the brave dare go: deep within herself. She and I worked together daily for 7 days unpacking her childhood memories in conversation and meditation. She was eager to own the reality that she was sucked dry, had nothing left to give to others, and that no one was to blame for this.

 In one profound guided meditation, she went safely back to the womb. She felt such a strong sense of not being wanted that she was weeping silently throughout the meditation. She could feel her mother’s sense of entrapment. She could feel her mother’s hatred for this thing (AIshah) growing within. She later said she felt like how people describe an acid trip: at the same moment in time she was herself, she was her mother, and she was both together in the same single body. She was the observer and the do-er equally. She could feel her mother’s sense of worthlessness. She could almost hear her mother crying as she wondered if she could do this. Literally could she soldier on with yet another child. She was already so exhausted, so sucked dry.

 

It’s a much longer story, but after this regressed meditation, Aishah was never the same. Instead of feeling the victim of her superbly dysfunctional childhood, she could see it as a gift, a spiritual lesson. Now before you gag, these are her words not mine. She could see why she seduced and fell in love with two men who would withhold love and be judgemental and not present. She could see her part in pushing them away with her own judgment, self-sacrifice, and martyrdom. She could feel the absolute rage she felt towards them for thwarting her life, cutting her short, and making her less than.

 I had used the words volcanic rage with her earlier in a session so there was suggestibility. She returned for a session having had an intense dream that her physical breast erupted in her sleep. She felt the burning, destructive, all out devastation as the lava from her breast flowed down her entire body. She thought she was dying. She could see her physical form light on fire and burn until it was nothing but ash. She remembers rising above the bed and seeing herself as nothing but ash. She left her body and travelled to her grandfather. He was in a field working. She asked him to stop and sit with her. He did. He held her. He said that he loved her and was proud of her. He said that he never liked either of her two husbands, ever. He laughed and told her that he loved it when she threw the ashtray at her ex in the divorce proceedings. He handed her the same ashtray in her dream and simply said, never again.

 I met with Aishah two days after she had this dream. We wanted to meet earlier but neither of our schedules allowed. I suggested that she see her breast surgeon and have an ultrasound done before we met to see what was happening with the tumor.

 For someone like me, dreams like Aishah’s often mean the body has released and let go of something so enormous it can’t be languaged. And, a visitation by a loved one from the past who delivers a clear and usually pithy message is common.   

 Aishah came to our session and I will never forget what she said. I cry as I type it here. Her tumor had shrunk in size from about a golf ball to a small pea. Her doctor advised no surgery, no chemo, and no radiation for a month to see what happened with the tumor over the next four weeks. She was in full body response committing to a plan of self-love, self-care, and self-nurturing. We wrote that plan together with the intensity of a corporate business plan with a mission statement, strategies and tactics, milestones and progress check ins.

 I laminated several copies of her plan and she posted it in her bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom as a daily reminder.

 One month later, her pea-sized tumor was surgically removed. The pathology came back cancerous, but the margins were excellent and additional chemo and radiation were concluded to be unnecessary. She took medication for 5 years post-surgery.

 She has continued to have an active history of lumps in her left breast but each time she does a scan and sees them, she doubles down her commitment to release herself from the past and re-focus on her new present and future. She receives the best of medical care and is grateful to her team.  

 And, she has left the practice of law and is now working as a coach to a theatre company’s actors. She’s in love with a very special man who sees her whole and complete, flaws and all, and loves her entirely. She asked me to meet him for my approval, like I was Yenta!

 Aishah’s journey is one of awareness, ownership, and shift. Shit happens when we shift. I see it all the time!

 Aisha continues to make a fearless commitment to look at the emotions underpinning her breast cancer. Lumps will still come and go, and she will seek excellent medical care… but she also looks for the emotional and spiritual underpinnings. She is listening to the messages from her body.

 I love you Aishah!

 

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