The Best Version of Me

The Best Version of Me

 

 

What do you do when the best version of yourself is never enough for someone else?  
This belief pattern started when I was eight years old. My mum met and married a man after a whirlwind romance.  My father’s replacement would literally put his hand out and hold me at arm’s length when I went to give him a hug.  This rejection caused my little heart to cry with despair.  After losing my father to cancer a couple of years prior all I was looking for was his unconditional love and affection.  I couldn’t change want I wanted, I was just a kid.   
I fell in love at twenty and married a man whose attention was anywhere other than the relationship he had committed to.  Reinforcing the belief that the best version of me was not worth loving and was never going to be good enough for anyone. 
My second husband and I met at work. As like attracts like, we were thrown together by the Universe with our pending divorces and emotional distress.   After a few false starts we decided to try and make a go of it.   Here’s the irony, I thought he was the one that came with baggage!  I had cut ties from my ex and saw myself as a childless, free spirit ready to explore the world of the Thirty somethings.  Whereas he came with two young children, parents steeped in tradition and an ex-wife, who for the sake of the children was still very much in the picture.  
With the addition of two impressionable girls into my life I did not want to repeat the experiences I had as a child.  So, I always went over and above to make them feel comfortable, welcome and loved.  You could say at that time I had a Wonder Woman complex.  If I wasn’t organized, then I couldn’t control the outcome.  If I couldn’t control the outcome, well that thought was terrifying.   I was conscious of needing to feel accepted and I was literally stuck in a pattern of old belief systems that were self-destructive. I was on a collision course heading for disaster.  
Eleven years into our relationship I was diagnosed with stomach cancer.  At the time circumstances would have it that neither of my step daughters wanted a relationship with me.  I felt totally and utterly defeated.  A crescendo of years’ worth of self-sacrifice and desperation to be loved.  The ultra-best version of me was never going to be good enough, ever.   So where did this leave me?  What lesson was I not learning here? Why did each karmic challenge seem more heart wrenching and harder to pull through? This one contributing to and almost costing me my life.  
The original wound of my eight-year-old self was still playing out and cancer was my opportunity to fully awaken and see things very clearly.  It was never about the people that rejected me, they were just the mirror of what I didn’t want to see in myself.  Being brave enough to confront my old beliefs allowed me to understand that I have purpose and no longer needed to look outside of myself for love, acceptance or validation.  
I love my authentic self and thank my teachers in life for helping me find her. 
Michelle Potter
Visionary Artist
Nothing Is Impossible

Nothing Is Impossible

An opportunity to grow. A second chance to embrace a life I once very much took for granted. A time to connect with others that share similar stories to my own, and a time to grieve all those new friends that haven’t been as lucky as I have.  I don’t know why I survived and they didn’t. I cry for their partners, their children and their families but I know, given the chance, they would all want me to live the life I have been blessed with. I never thought that this is what my soul path would look like. I never thought I would be here in this moment, sitting in a plane. Im on my way home with my family after having the opportunity to create some wonderful memories.

As with most people, life goes on and people busy themselves again with work, family and friends, but for those that experience massive trauma something on the inside changes. Only those that go through this transition truly understand the cosmic collision of reality and the illusion of life that is sometimes played out like a Hollywood movie.  Drama becomes trivial and we no longer care for those that create it.  Only true friendships remain after the storm, and new relationships are based on wisdom, experience and clarity. The veils are lifted and what is left is a stark new reality of how those who have experienced trauma choose to live.

Take a tsunami as an example. The wave is a huge gush of emotion, it totally wipes just about everything out. Everyone rallies right after the disaster. Relief teams comes flooding in from everywhere to help. The people feel very cared for and supported, but it is short lived relief. After a time facilities have been put in place so people leave and get on with their lives. They are initially impacted by the tragedy but their own personal lives pretty much go on the same. However the people hit by the tsunami must rebuild. They must grief friends and family they may have lost. They have not only the practical to implement, some may even reassess their entire belief system. After all, what type of God would cause this much devastation in a persons life?

Rebuilding your mind, body and spirit takes time. Through personal experience I can tell you it takes years. You are left raw and vulnerable and grieving so many things that sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. You have no choice but to change.  I don’t expect others to understand or respect the decisions I make. My decision making can sometimes be viewed upon as cold and unforgiving but I am neither. I make decisions based on my circumstances to forge boundaries and protect myself.  I can only do this with the information and knowledge that I have in front of me. Tomorrow may bring new light to situations and as a person with integrity I will accept my indeficiencies as a human being and search for forgiveness if I have made mistakes. My health is and always will be a fine balance. My philosophy is simple. Treat me with kindness and understanding and I will show you the same respect.

We all have a story, and we all manage to survive it in our own way.  The last five years have been tough. Financially, medically, emotionally, physically and spiritually. It has redefined who I am. I have stepped into the person I was always supposed to be and it has been one tough initiation. So now I look to a future without fear of failure. For there is no such thing, only another day to begin again.

Michelle

 

The Spiritual Journey Has Nothing To Do With Being Nice

The Spiritual Journey Has Nothing To Do With Being Nice

This quote came up on my news-feed on Facebook this morning and got me to thinking.  There is still the belief that people expect you to be a tree hugging hippie because you are living a ‘spiritual life’. It is like the shadow of religious dogma coming down on you again and people having the perception that because you believe in a higher consciousness that you should walk around being a ‘nice’ person. I’m not sure why they feel you should turn the other cheek and forgive unconditionally then diss you if you don’t.

From my experience, when you start to walk in your truth, when you decide to put boundaries in your life, when you start to honor your space first you may not appear to those around you like a nice person.  You may actually appear like a very selfish one. The reason this occurs is because you start to change and shift and people don’t like that.  They either have to change themselves to continue to be a reflection of you or you leave them behind, which in turn can bring up lots of negative feelings for them.   There are plenty of victims in life and when you shine the light on their bad behavior or no longer tolerate their dramas then they feel they have no other option than to deflect the responsibility of their actions and bad mouth you.  Its like being voted off the Island on the game of Survivor! You can loose entire friendship circles, family members, work colleges. It can sometimes feel like a purging by fire only you do not come out Daenerys Targaryen and you are not the Mother of Dragons!

Instead  you are left with a lightness which can feel like a void. What are you going to possibly do with all this time now you don’t have to sit there in drama?  You are going to get out and live the creative life you were born to live, that’s what you are going to do. Find your purpose, reconnect with your spirit, do things that make you happy and love those important people in your life that make your heart smile.  Embrace the shadow side of yourself, for there is no Yin without Yang. Learn how to read your negative thoughts and pull them apart piece by piece until you locate the real reason why you feel like you do.  Self truth is an incredibly confronting thing and it pushes you out of your comfort zone.  Not everyone is ready for that, and that is why not everyone is ready to go on a ‘spiritual journey’. I’m not going to lie, it can sometimes make you feel very alone especially around those special milestones when you realize that you no longer have enough genuine ‘friends and family’ to invite to fill a room to help you celebrate.

If being real has lost me friends, then I know the one’s I have gained since and continue to meet are the ones I allow to enter into my sacred space.  I still struggle and like all humans I have an inner craving to be accepted. The last six years of my life has seemed like a tidal wave, all the old was washed away and I am more confident with who I am and why I am here, and realize that I may not always appear to be ‘nice’, but I’m okay with that.

I Hope You Never Understand

I Hope You Never Understand

Late last week I felt a thickening of my left breast tissue.   A small but noticeable lumpy bit that just managed to get more painful the more I poked and played with it.  I made an unscheduled visit to my doctor, followed by a lengthy mammogram, and ultrasound.  At least some relief was given to me at the appointment and although nothing was found in the left breast a fibroadenoma was found in the right. This will require some monitoring due to my history and genetics as Lynch Syndrome also carries a slighter higher risk of breast cancer.  Yet another reminder that no matter how positive I am, how healthy I live, how self aware and #ultraspiritual I feel there are just some things that I cannot control.   It doesn’t seem to matter if I’m a good person , a bad person or something in between. Sometimes shit just happens. 

 

Having gone through an enormous life changing experience in 2011 I  know I have grown and changed in so many ways.  My family is the most precious gift I have.  Watching my children grow up is such a blessing that many of my cancer friends will never get.  Every year that ticks past, and every photo that I can get with Santa fills my heart with so much gratitude.  I have focused and continue to develop in my craft and work at it every day.  My art has been at the forefront of my ability to heal, help and express myself.   I also devote my time to helping others to connect and give a platform to so many out there that also live life without a stomach.  I have used the last 4 ½ years positively, productively and creatively in the hope to better understand myself and what I have to offer the world.
My ability to discern which relationships I allow into my life is extremely important and anything I feel is toxic just has to go, no question. When you are sitting in a doctors office waiting for test results you are not thinking about what the mums at school are saying, or what sale you might be missing out on.  You are worried about your kids, your husband, yourself .  You worry about how you and your family are going to cope. How you are going to stay positive? How you are going to get through this?   You ponder on the what ifs, no matter how hard you try not to.  The anxiety and anticipation of an outcome you cannot control is the scariest thing you can possibly imagine.  It shakes you to your very core and nothing else matters to you accept those that are close to your heart.  
I feel like I am continuously being grounded and reminded of what matters most. As much as I can appreciate the experience from a spiritual awakening sense, from a human perspective it is absolutely exhausting. And this isn’t just a little bump in the road, I have to live like this for the rest of my life.  I have been reminded this week that no matter how much I put the cancer behind me there is always, always going to be a percentage of it on my mind.  Every lump, every blood test, every scan brings another wave of anxiety that unless you have experienced it, you can never possibly understand it.  
Why wear a dress if it doesn’t fit you anymore?  Of course you might put up with it for a while but you will eventually get to a point where you think “I need to let that go that, it doesn’t fit me anymore”. Nothing has changed with the dress, it’s exactly the same as when you first purchased it. Its you that’s changed. 
If you were once a part of my life and are no longer then it’s nothing personal.  Seriously, it’s got nothing to do with you, it just means that you are no longer a reflection of me. Why wear a dress if it doesn’t fit you anymore?  Of course you might put up with it for a while but you will eventually get to a point where you think “I need to let that go that, it doesn’t fit me anymore”. Nothing has changed with the dress, it’s exactly the same as when you first purchased it. It’s you that’s changed.  We all have our light bulb moments, the ones that put our lives into perspective.  Well, my life seems to be one massive light bulb!   Your perspective on life is based on your own personal experiences, your truth, your belief systems and I respect that, but it also means my experiences have evolved me to a point where I have outgrown you. It doesn’t mean I think I am better than you, it just means that I am very selective about who I allow into my life and the energy they bring. I truly hope you never understand, but if one day you do then you might appreciate just a taste of what its like walking in my shoes.    
But You Look Great!

But You Look Great!

Truthfully, people say this alot and I’m not just saying it.  If you can pull through a very serious illness and inspire others by walking the talk then I am very humbled by the complement.  The life I choose to live is a healthy, proactive, productive and positive one and when I walk out into the world this is the face I would hope most people see.  

However, with every ray of light there is a shadow and that is also what I have had to accept and to learn to live with with eveyday. Having gone through the physical, emotional and financial experience of cancer it is not uncommon for people to come and ask for my help.  I would average at least one person a month either asking me to call their friend or requesting my number “to give to such and such’.  I am a loving, caring person but in all honesty I simply cant. Not just for my own health and well-being but I am not a professional counselor.  Don’t get me wrong, I do understand the importance of  being able to connect to someone when you are going through a tough emotional time or not coping with prescribed treatment, but there are structures within society that will assist those that need it.
 
Just like most of us, it takes me all my own energy to get through each and everyday and I would hope people understand that one can only extend themselves so far.  For me life has always got to be about boundaries and balance. It is actually a critical part of my life now and I don’t expect people to understand unless they have lived through this surgery and have the looming threat of cancer over their heads.  I discovered through my journey I have a genetic disorder called Lynch Syndrome. In a nutshell I have a faulty cancer protective gene which is in each and every cell of my body. This means I am far more likely to develop one or more cancers throughout my lifetime as this is the more dominant gene in the cell. So, you see I live with the threat of disease everyday of my life. As proactive and as positive as I am nothing helps the anxiety leading up to quarterly blood tests,yearly scans and intrusive procedures. I will never be ‘over’ cancer, this is something my human side has to deal with for the rest of my life, period
 
I wanted to give back to society after my illness so I put a structure in place to be able to do that. I created a Support Group on Facebook called https://www.facebook.com/SupportGroupForPartialTotalGastrectomyPatients for people who live with partial or no stomach.  Along with four other administrators (all stomachless) I am able to help people on a daily basis just by living my life and sharing personal experiences and information.  I do not extend myself further than that unless someone locally with stomach cancer comes through the No Stomach for Cancer website (http://www.nostomachforcancer.org) , my GP, my surgeon or my oncologist.  For my own sanity and to stay out of the depths of other peoples despair this is just one boundary I am constantly having to uphold. 
As well as being extremely lucky, I am also not your average type of girl. I am committed to do the work on myself to evolve. I believe anything is possible and I want to express myself and inspire people through my artwork and hopefully light a few internal flames in those who are searching for more than this human experience,  I have committed myself in spiritual meditation classes for over five years and I’ve had to do alot of self healing and releasing during that time. The more I define myself the clearer the decisions and choices I have to make.  This includes finding that cold compassion with people and being able to detach from those who are no longer a reflection of me, no matter how long they have been a part of my life.  Letting go of the past is incredibly difficult and emotionally hard, but for those committed on this journey of higher consciousness there is no room for illusion just the truth.  It takes a lot of hard work spiritually, emotionally and physically to ‘ Look Great’. So when someone pays me this complement, I know I’ve earned it!