“I am re-braving after a difficult stage that un-braved me.” – Jeff Brown.
2022 was indeed ‘The Tower’ for me.
January 2022, things were starting to open up, people had already started planning for a mask free future, but my hesitation had all but turned me into a paranoid skeptic who saw how ugly and selfish the world had become. I had already distanced myself from certain social media platforms and as much as much as my reflection started to resemble Shrek in his swamp, I reveled in the luxury of just being able to put my phone down to alleviate any drama that was going on in the outside world. It was generally nice not having to people.
School began, my eldest heading into year 12 and my youngest being able to attend his first year since commencing high school. Just getting accustomed to having the house back to myself felt weirdly quiet. I can’t say I missed the smell of the air fryer or the fridge door constantly opening and closing, but we had worked out daily routines so we were not constantly getting under each other’s feet. Getting reacquainted with myself took some time but I missed the kids and the company. I knew that life, as we all knew it, had changed and just as I had had an enormous amount to time to think and contemplate the last 2 years, I was not prepared for what was to come.
On January 18, 2022, I went in for my yearly colonoscopy. This is part of my cancer screening and is something that I have done since 2011. My histopathology came back showing the removal of a tubulovillous adenoma with extensive high-grade dysplasia, and lots of other medical terminology that no one ever wants to see on a report. I cannot tell you how much my heart sank. My specialist of 11 years was now all but retired to Queensland and his office admin were under strict instructions not to contact him under any circumstances (unless it was his week on in Melbourne) so getting hold of the right people to give this the urgency I felt it needed was nothing short of challenging. Getting past the frustration of pouring out my history to medical receptionists and being able to speak to ‘someone’ that would call me back sent me into meltdown.
Living with a genetic predisposition to gastrointestinal cancers is not something you can fully appreciate unless you are living it. Its not like a cough or cold that you ‘get through’ and then your life becomes healthy again. Living with this constant threat of another ‘C’ is my life. Fatigue and fall out from multiple surgeries is a daily grind. I have to prioritize everything, and I mean everything. From what I can do in a day, to who and what I give my energy and time to. What I eat on a daily basis can affect my hydration levels, my bowels, my ability to complete tasks and how much I can do physically. AND let me tell you, no matter how much spiritual work I do and how positive I am, shit things happen. Shit does not discriminate. It doesn’t care how kind or generous you are. It doesn’t matter if you give your last $20 to the homeless guy outside Woollies or how many self-help books you have beside your bed. Shit doesn’t care how much money you have in the bank or how many friends you have. Shit just happens.
Two gastroenterologists, my oncologist and a colorectal specialist later I was given the option for a partial colectomy or close monitoring (quarterly colonoscopies). It was explained to me that the partial colectomy involved the removal of ¾ of my bowel with a 12-18 month recovery and the possibility of a temporary or permanent colostomy bag. The thought of having to endure the same recovery as my gastrectomy was more than I could cope with so against my oncologists wishes I went with the latter.
This experience cracked me open to my very core. My mental health suffered on a scale I have never experienced. For the first time ever, I knew I could no longer do this on my own. I sought medical intervention for my anxiety and depression and by May 2022 I was speaking with a psychologist and on medication. It almost seems insane that I waited until I was right on the edge of self-destruction before I took these steps. My belief was always ‘I can do this on my own.’ Surely with all the self-help and spiritual guidance I had for support, seeking medical intervention seemed weak. How can I be a Reiki Master, a Lightworker Practioner, lead women in Circle, know all that I know and need help for my mental health? It felt like I had failed. That by doing this I was ‘a fake’ and clearly not spiritual enough to heal this myself. Pushing past all these belief systems was challenging. I accepted that being vulnerable was not a sign a weakness and even if we have all the answers we need inside, sometimes its a hell of alot easier if someone is holding your hand as you walk through it.
Not all that long ago I listened to a podcast from the Spiritual Tradie and he spoke to someone regarding our ‘Spiritual tool shed.’ That we have all been living in a state of overwhelm for such an extended period of time that even if we feel we had all the spiritual resources at our fingertips, some of us forgot where we put the key to the shed. This was me in a nutshell. I was thrown back 11 years when I was just a babe on my spiritual journey. While everyone else went on re-planning events that were delayed through the pandemic, I was being thrown back into a space of the unknown, of poking and prodding, tests upon tests, hospital and specialists’ appointments. So, not only was it was imperative I stay virus free but I had to navigate what this potentially meant for me and my family. And I cried and cried and cried.
2022 was also a huge year of acceptance. Finally facing my health issues head on and really accepting my limitations, which grieved me more than I had imagined it would. Letting my grey hair grow out (for a time) and seeing the 100% me. It’s a weird feeling being a woman in her 50’s, it truly is a bit of a void. It’s like a light switch turns on and you start the see the world differently. You certainly may not feel ‘old’, but your reflection lets you know otherwise. I remember my mum telling me that when women hit a certain age they suddenly become invisible. We sort of slink into the background. We let go of the last strands of youth but have to learn to reshape that into something new. Something inside us stirs and if we give ourselves permission, we can make own rules. Simply nod your head and leave the youth to make their own mistakes as you start to weave a new life, your way. No ‘bullshit.’ But this to is something we need time to adjust to, and for a while anyway we feel suspended in that space ‘in-between’.
Last year un-braved me so much that I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to face what may lay ahead. I am proud that I resourced myself, learned how to take better care of me and I am happy to report I am in a much better place now. If you are having a tough time, know that there is help out there if you seek it, and if you don’t know where to start, go and speak to your GP or a qualified medical practitioner. It is okay to be a complete mess and to have no idea where your life is going, no matter how old you are. The Tower always brings extreme emotional turmoil, chaos and scary adjustments. If The Tower has entered your life, then it’s time to rethink your foundations, open yourself up to a clearer spiritual path and a more truthful existence and remember you don’t have to do it alone.
Today is not forever. <3
Image Credit https://unsplash.com/@sammiechaffin