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Friday, December 03, 2010

Guilty Gratitude

The journey to becoming a cancer survivor has been a roller coaster ride with tall swings from high to low and loop-to-loops that have left me feeling exhilarated, joyous, anxious, fearful and deprived all at once.

As I look back over this year I wonder how I ever survived it without an emotional breakdown. And I wonder if maybe I broke down and didn’t realize it.

There have been days over the past few months that find me sitting. I sit and stare at mindless daytime TV, the latest TNT marathon or simply just out the window at nothing. I’ve been frustrated at myself for not writing quality posts but when I try to write the words get all jumbled up with emotions I can’t identify.

I’ve carried tremendous guilt because of all the time I’ve spent just sitting. I've grown weary of feeling guilty for the way things turned out and tired of the hurt I've seen cancer bring to those around me.

I’ve carried a load of guilt for the fatigue. And although it’s getting better there have been nights I have been too tired to get up and comfort my children in their nightmares. Those nights have left me ragged. They come to me at night, sometimes I get up with them and sometimes I hug them in a semi-conscious state, mumble an incoherent prayer and send them on their way.

I was given a new lease on life and I feel there are minutes and days that I’m squandering it by doing nothing but staring at the ticking clock.

But maybe it’s not nothing, maybe it’s something and something important. Maybe it’s a phase of the grief that cancer brought this way because hard times bring grief. Even hard times with happy endings bring loss and emotional weariness.

Maybe the sitting, letting my mind wander without entertaining a heavy thought is therapeutic. Maybe I’m in emotional recovery.

Yesterday I realized what I was feeling was probably normal and that other people who have had stressful years full of hard and shocking circumstances must sit too. And I thought that my emotions weren’t really all that unidentifiable anymore.

Today these crazy unfamiliar emotions I’ve been wrestling with seem more like old friends than new enemies. Today I look forward to what I will learn and uncover in the process. I look forward to those I will meet along the way and I hope to bring comfort to those who are hurting. Today I embrace the freedom to change and the energy to begin. Again.

“let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:22-23 NIV


Debbie said...

Oh Lisa I couldn't identify more with this post if I tried. (except for the part of getting up with kids with nightmares,lol) I think you are just soo right. It has been such an emotional year for me as well and I still find myself hardly believing that half of it even happened. I too sit...soo much more than I ever have...I force myself sometimes to just keep "moving along" as I always told my kids. I look for ways to be more productive, do more for Him, and yet I still sit...maybe your right and it is all part of the process...Your verse is PERFECT. Thanks for always sharing from your heart. Have a wonderful week-end. HUGS

Bernie said...

I think you have handled this past year with grace and dignity. You have gone through so much and had many changes. You are an inspiration to so many sweetie, be well. Always in my heart and prayers....:-)Hugs

Kimberly said...

(((Hugs))) I think you are going through a sort of PTSD. I say that because I went through something similar after a traumatic time in my life. My life was not under a threat in the sense that I could have died, but there was a very serious threat in my life and in the life and future of my family. It was prolonged over months. During that time, I did what I had to do...I survived. My instincts kicked in and I did what I had to do to keep going and sustain a life for me and my family. But when the threat was resolved, I was surprised at how long it took to recover from the trauma of it. And it was a trauma. The biggest mistake I made was thinking, and expecting, that things would immediately go back to normal and that I would just pick up where I left off before the trauma. Or, worse, thinking that things would be even better than they were before! After all, doesn't God restore to greater than before? He gave Job double for his trouble! In many ways, things are definitely better, but not in the way I expected, and it took a lot longer than I could have imagined. In fact, our family is still very much in recovery mode 4 years later. During the process, I had some anxiety, a few flashbacks, some triggers, and I think almost a harder time with the recovery than with the trauma itself! Finally my body crashed and I was so severely anemic I needed a blood transfusion! That was the toll that the trauma had taken on my body...plus, realizing that I was probably anemic going through it...no wonder I crashed! Anyway, my point is to say that recovery takes TIME. That is the biggest gift you can give yourself. You are barely a year out from this major event in your life, and while you came out of it successfully, you will always be on guard, not in a "bad" way, but simply because you have to be. It's a "new normal" and it takes time to adjust. Even for us, what caused the trauma to begin with still lurks, and I have to be on guard. But now I am better prepared and can be more proactive, and I don't have to live in fear.

My suggestion would be to find a good Christian counselor. A "real" counselor, like with a degree and professional training. A psychologist even. Particularly one who even specializes in trauma/grief or something like that. I found that for me, the best therapy was talk therapy. Just getting it out, and hearing someone offer feedback and reassurance, being able to process everything that had happened...it went a long way for healing with me. Maybe even have your hubby go with you at times so that he can understand what you're going through. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking help in that form. You will be amazed at what it can do for you!!!!!

Blessings to you, Lisa, and I pray that you will find strength and peace for the continued journey ahead!

Trudy said...

I too can identify with this post Lisa, though I fear my 'sitting season' is just beginning. I'm glad you are embracing these feelings as friends now...that's a great way to look at is!

God's blessings to you.


Stacy said...

Praying for you...that in those quiet times God would minister to your heart.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Lisa, sounds like you are doing well. I was happy to see you visit with me. I must apologize because I didn't have you in my reader for some reason. I do have your magnet and have been praying for you. I wish you and your family a beautiful holiday season. I have been ill with COPD (asthma) and I am so limited in what I do. I feel guilty for sitting. Look where you have been. You have been faced with fears that no one wants to ever go through. God is good and He loves you. ((HUGS))

Sonja said...

Hi Lisa:

I loved this honest post. I have a feeling it's all part of God's processing system in your life. He knows we can't get from A to Z without time, energy, prayer, emotion, etc. All of your experiences even when you are in automatic reaction mode, are making up the whole chapter of this journey, and readying you for the next chapter.

I think you're doing great!

Gigi said...

I can relate...it's been 2 years. And I still sit and find myself staring. And crying.

He is with us...we'll both get where He wants us to be. Of that I am sure.

BARBIE said...

I cannot imagine what you have gone through, but I can imagine that perhaps God spared you all of this numbness and emotions for a season. I will be praying for you as you walk this journey.

Anonymous said...

Being still is God's command. Be still and know that I am God. He teaches so much in those quiet moments when it is just the two of you. It is not necessary even to have anything to say. You've said a lot over the past year in your conversations with your sweet Lord. Now, do as he commands and just be still before Him and thank Him for the stillness. It need not be anything more right now. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Sharon - Grandma is a Writer said...

Thank you Lisa, for your honesty! You expressed so well what you have been dealing with. I have gone through similar things as a result of many different types of trauma. Often just being able to express the emotions as you have done is a great help.

Blessings to you today and throughout the coming year!

LisaShaw said...

Hey Lisa,

It's been a minute as they say, but I pray for you as the Lord leads and I'm thankful to be able to pop in today and read the outpouring of your heart....prayed for you sister...

Cling to HIM. Jesus loves you!!

Merry Christmas.