affirmations · change · healing · health · love · self-love · spirituality


When I got sick, my friend Aimee brought a photocopy from a
book she owned to me in the hospital. I told her recently how much this piece
of paper changed my whole experience, and she said she simply didn’t know what
else to do. How else to show up or help, or what to say; she didn’t know if I’d
snarl at the message it had to offer or get mad with her.
It was a page from Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life, though I didn’t know that at the time. I didn’t
know who Louise Hay was, and certainly didn’t know about that sickeningly sweet
The page had on it a list of ailments and diseases and
physical symptoms. Next to them was a column of negative beliefs that the
author had associated with these symptoms. In the final column were a list of correlated positive
She’d circled, “Blood Problems” and “Leukemia.” Blood meant
joy; a problem with the blood meant, in this cosm of beliefs, “Actively killing
joy,” a “What’s the use?” mentality.
During the time I was sick, another friend brought me an
audio CD of Dr. Bernie Siegel’s Love, Medicine, and Miracles, which, in part, tracked the general life pattern those who develop cancer have had. As I listened, I tracked with it–to a T. The
final period before cancer, he’d discovered, usually consisted of a period of success, a major
disappointment, followed by hopelessness.
I had just graduated with a Master’s in Creative Writing.
The photo on my graduation day shows me nothing short of radiant, beaming,
joy-fueled. I spent the summer hustling from a temp job to job interviews,
trying, demanding, aching, to get a job in a creative field. Grateful as I am
for the job that I received and am currently in, I felt broken in the weeks
following my full-time employment. I cried as I waited for the always-late bus
to take me home to a dreggy existence.
Three weeks after I was hired, I got strep throat; four
weeks after I was hired, I was told I also had Leukemia.
Call that whatever you want, but when Aimee handed me that
photocopy, and I saw that my life and symptoms were spelled out by someone who
saw this as a commonplace pattern, I also saw that there was a third column
that could help me to reverse it, or to heal it.
I showed that paper to everyone who came in (well, those who
were of the more witchy variety). Some people squawked that it sounded like I
was blaming myself for cancer. But,
that’s not what my understand was, or is. Simply, we are sending ourselves
messages all the time. We can choose to listen and alter our behavior, our
patterns, as best we can; or, we can, like me, continue to shove aspirations,
life, underneath a
mountain of I can’t, it’s not working, it’s not for me. Who cares.
At any point along this path, we can choose to listen to
what our heart is saying. And listen though I sometimes did, I didn’t heed. I
was too scared. Too scared to fail, to trust, to try thoroughly, to invest, to
change. This isn’t to self-flagellate, I don’t feel it that way; it’s simply to
objectively look at how I was treating myself.
If we don’t listen, these folks’ theory is that our body
will respond with physical messages. And sometimes, those messages will become
billboards, and sometimes those billboards will become atomic bombs.
Thinking about my cancer this way while I was in treatment
gave me hope. It gave me a foundation, a cosmology, a system of belief that I
was already attuned to anyway. (I’d personally always thought that cancer was
calcified resentment, and you can hate me for saying that and disagree if it
doesn’t jive with your own cosmology.)
But this thinking gave me a life-line, literally. If these
were just thoughts, beliefs that I’d harbored, a pattern of self-abandonment
that I’d worn so deeply into myself that my self revolted, then … they could be
changed. I could change. And, the theory
could follow, I could get well.
I needed that so badly. I still do.
There wasn’t anything more scary that I’d ever faced,
because there was no face on it. These theories gave me a name, a focus, a
target. And the target was Love.
“New and joyous ideas flow freely within me.” “I move beyond
past limitations into the freedom of the now. It is safe to be me.”
When I was home sick with a cold in October, one year past
diagnosis, I needed something to do. During treatment, someone had given me a DVD version of
the Louise Hay book, You Can Heal Your Life. I’d shoved it away, thinking it sounded like utter twaddle and too
saccharine, and much too California woo-woo for my taste. But, I was sick
again, and I was scared, and despite all the work I’d done in the past year, I
needed to re-up, reinvigorate my life-line. So I watched the film. Which was a
lot of twaddle-speak, and also a lot of what I believe. It was positivity on
steroids, but, I watched, and I wished that I had the actual book they were
talking about, since it had the full list of ailments in it, and I wanted to
diagnose everything else, and counter it with love.
I walked outside my apartment building that day to go buy
eggs. Outside the building next to mine was one of those moving-out boxes of
free stuff people leave, boxes I love to
sift through.
In it… was a copy of You Can Heal Your Life. Pristine, with the Amazon receipt still in it,
ordered in 2011, likely, by some girl just like me who in a fit of, Yes, I
can heal my life, bought it, received it, and shoved it
away, thinking it twaddle.
I picked it up, bought my eggs, went home, and devoured the
rest of it.
Again, you can call it whatever you like. You can agree,
disagree, roll eyes, think I’m anything you might want to call me. But, I used
those affirmations, and I survived a cancer that kills most people. It may not
be causation, but as I continue to use the type of thinking prescribed, I am

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