Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Riding the rollercoaster

 Random thought of the day - Does anyone else ever wonder about the back story when you see a lone shoe on the street or sidewalk? Just one shoe, all by itself, in good shape or bad? I often wonder how it got there, on a curb, a walkway, or middle of the street, making up a story about an argument, or a quick escape where one shoe fell off the back of a truck. Is it a heel? Did it get thrown at someone in an argument, or pulled off as a woman stomped away? Did some kid get in trouble for coming home with just one shoe where there should be two? The possibilities are endless.

Which is simply to illustrate that my mind can be an interesting, or terrifying, or silly place to be - the sometimes bad neighborhood where we're told not to go alone when we first get sober. OK, so no one can actually get in my mind with me. I think the warning has to do with not keeping secrets, from myself or anyone else. I don't need to tell everyone everything - that was a mark of my alcoholism. If we were drinking together, we were best friends. These days my life is pretty much an open book, and I'm realizing with this recent diagnosis and pending surgery, just how much I operate from self-reliance.  I have a solid spiritual practice, I'm a member of a strong fellowship, and I'll get my own groceries, thank you. My husband and I are fairly low maintenance, so I don't anticipate a lot of need, though right now, have no idea how I'll feel in a month or so. Again, the not knowing gnaws at my heels as I slip in and out of prediction mode, trying not to tell myself stories. 

As a recovering addict, I will say that one of the toughest things about this whole medical ordeal are the IV's, for the MRI and assuming for surgery. It's been a long, long time since I stuck a needle in my arm (or back of my hand, etc) but my poor veins never came back, which means a conversation every time there is a blood draw or an IV on the agenda. Fortunately, I am fairly healthy, so it doesn't come up too often, and I am very grateful for the nurses and techs who believe me when I say, "Please trust me on this" as I give them direction. Addiction isn't logical, but I truly never imagined during my two-year methamphetamine run that I might need my vascular system for valid purposes later in life.  And I just learned about a handy little gadget called a vein finder - kind of like the stud finder I use when hanging pictures on the wall. Who knew? I'm sure glad there wasn't a home model when I was out there!

I'm doing my best to ride the rollercoaster, from competence and trust to tears. Being human is not a character defect. Being human is not a character defect (from Courage to Change). How I feel one minute doesn't mean I'll always feel that way, whether joyful or sad. I heard this week that if I'm practicing the "Accept the things I cannot change" in the Serenity Prayer, it means that I must change - my attitude or outlook, letting go of the illusion of control. 

And, after a meeting on the topic of powerlessness, I realized that as much as I'd like to get on with it, I can't really work Steps Two and Three until I fully embrace Step One. I sat down with pen and paper, arguing with myself about being powerless over cancer. I don't want to be powerless over my health. Am I really? Don't I have choices and generally practice good self-care? Yes, and, I can make plans, eat the kale, go for the walk, and any outcomes are out of my control. Damn it. I hate that part. 

I hate that part and am just coming to terms with the fact that I'm angry, pissed off, annoyed, with "god", the universe, my left boob. I can feel my inner-kid stomping her feet - "But I do all the right things! Followed by "What did I do wrong?" all tied up with the magical thinking of cause and effect. And then I beat myself up for feeling peeved - it could be a lot worse; there are folks who are in much worse shape; quit your whining. Can I hold gratitude and anger at the same time? Well obviously, because that's where I am, on the see-saw of "thank you" and "f-you." 

As I've been reminded, when I'm angry, it's usually because I've forgotten my powerlessness. I do realize this is all part of the process. I'm continuing to put pen-to-paper and will make an appointment with the cancer counseling my provider offers. I'll go through the preparation process as outlined in my fancy breast cancer notebook, sort of like getting ready for a race - hydrating, laying out my clothes the night before, thinking about what I'll eat afterwards. I'll show up on Monday, trusting my medical team and my support people, and will keep putting one foot in front of the other, whether that's slogging along in the mire or happy, joyous and free. 

Is your mind still a bad neighborhood at times? How do you come back to the present moment when you find yourself in a dark alley of negative thought? How are you practicing the principles of the Serenity Prayer this week?


  1. Ahhh.. I loved reading this so much! Gives me a genuine snapshot of your journey and the love duality we all face in this life. It hit me what you said about anger.. ‘that’s it’s usually when one forgets their powerlessness.’ And then my mind jumps to that encouragement from Bruce Lee, which I’m certain originated from some wise guru living in the mountains s praying and walking daily. Nevertheless, I’m thankful I can bite nuggets off of the quote and trying to embrace the words into my own world. “ Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water.”
    May your health be the outcome of this trial you face. And for those of us that have been able to rub shoulders with you in this lifetime (which I’m counting on you to be around at least another 40 years for!!) .. I just want you to know, you are SO valuable and important. World needs more Jeanine’s! ♥️πŸ«ΆπŸ½πŸ™πŸ½

  2. I so appreciate your writing about this process. As cancer visits, so many of us, we take steps to prepare. For myself, and in my journey, I have prepared and adjusted and ultimately have had to reach out to other humans. I do this because I understand that I get stuck in a perspective. I don’t ask for help because I want someone else’s approval for that perspective, at least today, right now in my current situation. It is very different from having codependent perspectives. When I doubted myself, I realized today that the foot path of navigating a surgery, a diagnosis, and a path forward each has its own set of fears. Asking for help brings me to perspective, particularly when I am not expecting it to come from within. It’s like someone pointing out the flower that I just didn’t notice.