adulthood · compassion · connection · courage · friendship · healing · leadership · perseverance · recovery · self-love · trauma · writing

Seeing Someone

Yesterday, I saw my new somatic therapist for the 2nd time,
and we’ve decided to continue to work together, for the next little
while. I don’t know, exactly, what changes will be wrought from it, but it’s
nice to have someone to talk to again who’s third party and kind and uninvested
in propping me up or giving me advice.
Which isn’t to say she isn’t keen on helping me recover and
heal, but she doesn’t really have any agenda except that. Which is nice.
At the end of the session, I said how it galls me that I was supposed to, all these years, work on trauma recovery and grieving, and now I
have to go through recovery from the trauma and grieving of cancer to even
get to that layer of healing and muck.
She said something heartening, which I’m not sure I agree
with yet, but maybe will eventually: That it’s all connected. That if we work
on one part, it’s pulling on all the others. Like a spider web, if I work and
tug and pull and excise over here, it’ll ripple across and affect the other
parts.
We’ll see. As always, the act of showing up is one of hope
that things (that I, my life and how I engage in or hide from it) will
change. I have hope, every time I call a friend or reach out for help or write
this blog – this blog is an act of writing myself out of the darkness.
In my “stats,” I see someone read that first blog called
“Cancer,” so this morning I went back to read it too. So much of what I wrote
about the recovery process was true and so many of the questions are still the
same, if not a little more in focus. My cousin is a doctor in palliative care,
and reads my blog (Hi, L.!), and she emailed me the other day after she’d read
my blog to say she’d never thought of life-threatening illness as trauma
before, but of course it is. And to thank me for the bravery of putting my
process of coagulation up for the help of so many.
It’s interesting to read back to that first blog, and to
read the virulent ambivalence of being “an inspiration.” And it’s something
that came up yesterday in my session: the desire to be someone who holds the
torch, and the desire to stop being the
f’ing person who holds the torch all the time.
The duality of being a leader, if you can call this that
(which, frankly, I’m coming to see it is), is that sometimes you want to just
march along with everyone else. You get tired of standing at the top of the
mountain alone to look out and see where you should go next, what horizons need
staking. You get tired of being the one who charges into the fray – of being
the person, as I wrote in that blog, who just “goes with it,” faces it, accepts
it.
AND YET, of course, for me, I want to be that person, too – I want to be the person who is a light for others; I want to be a teacher and a leader and an inspiration. I
want to exact positive change in the world.
Yesterday, in session, we spoke about vascillating between
both these feelings, and allowing it to be. It’s part of owning the all of
myself: the fearless leader, and the exhausted soldier. The tireless explorer,
and the guy who just wants to carry the horse oats and play cards in the tent.
I think part of my ambivalence is a conscious understanding
of what leadership might mean, too. To recognize, without slipping into
workaholism or unseeing “progress,” that I am, and have always been Both/And.
At some point, I also told her that I’d been scrolling
through my profile photos on Facebook just the other day, since I’d put a new
one up. And I came, on Tuesday, sitting in my car waiting to meet up with some folks,
to the photo of myself at graduation from Mills College in May of 2012. That I
stand with a cap and gown, long hair, and a “radiant smile,” I told her.
I told her how I began to cry, looking at that photo, out of
grief that that girl had to go, and would go, through all this. That she had no idea what was about to happen. That the innocence of that
moment and that glee was … time-limited. To see that girl, to know what she was
about to go through, to feel so sorry that she does and will, and still is, is
grief. To know that my right eyelid will never look quite the same, an eye
infection during chemo causing it to droop slightly, so that I can see it now,
though others can’t. To know what that graduation day meant to me – to accomplish
something, to put my energies in and to excel, learn, progress, and shine.
I suppose, truthfully, I can say the same for my current
profile photo. Almost 2 years later, headshots for theater gigs. The result of
something I’ve also put my energies and monies and progress toward in order to
shine the way I know that photo does, too.
It’ll take some time, as I wrote in that first cancer blog,
to heal from all this. But I am a leader with a torch–though, please,
sometimes, can you be one too?

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