Surrender is the not the same as giving up
The serenity prayer is a great source of comfort to me. It says it all to me: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
For many years, I’ve been hitting heavy on “the courage to change the things I can” part. The acceptance thing is what trips me up a lot of times. There has just been so many unacceptable things thrown my way – a terminal diagnosis, cancer progression despite doing everything in my power to contain it, friends dying left and right. How do you accept that? I went into this with a full-power-on, fix-it approach. I changed everything in my life and refused to accept my imminent demise. After all, my first words upon hearing I was going to die from stage IV breast cancer seven and a half years ago were, “I’m too stubborn to die.”
It has served me well, and I’m glad that I have taken proactive steps to prolong and improve my quality of life. Now, however, I’m seeing that always being in hyper vigilant fighting mode isn’t holding up as well. It’s like doing everything you can to prepare for a hurricane, but the damn storm is too severe and it blows away your house anyway. I feel battered, beaten and frightened after the deaths of my friends and solid mentors Krysti Hughett and Darlene Gant. My fear has been stoked after some bad scans and dealing with the uncertainty of whether this clinical trial will work. On top of that I’ve been feeling like crap. For two weeks, I’ve experienced nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heartburn and constipation. I feel like the person Rosanne Rosannadanna talks about on Saturday Night Live. If you need a good laugh, watch it HERE. As she said, “It just goes to show you, it’s always something.”
The word “surrender” is upon my lips. But it’s not giving up; it’s admitting I can’t do this on my own anymore. I don’t have all the answers. For me, it means turning to God and people around me to help. Sometimes it means sitting quietly like Mike and I did this week. After dropping off Chrissy at Camp Kesem, we rented a cabin in Nashville, Indiana, which sat on 23 beautiful acres, and spent two days watching hummingbirds, deer and even a groundhog as the wind blew through an ancient sycamore tree. Most of the time, we were on the back porch or adjacent hot tub and at night sitting around a campfire. It was incredibly healing for both of us. It was a break that we really needed and gave me time to think.
I believe that when I stop trying to control and solve everything, I allow space for God to do its work. I open myself up for miracles to happen. I soften the hard edges, and I can feel my body relax. And that in itself allows healing. I stop trying to stuff down my feelings with busyness, TV, food and allow them to come. I am finally having some good cries. I was wondering if I forgot how to do that. And I feel better afterwards. I’ve even had some good laughs like I do when I think of the Rosanne Rosannadanna clip. My talk about pooping or not pooping have been a constant lately. I can’t even imagine how Mike can find me attractive anymore!
My feelings don’t have the power to kill me. I don’t sink into a deep depression like I’ve had in the past. They are just feelings, and when I allow them, they pass.
And that acceptance even applies to (pause, gulp) – the fear of death. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m exploring that, too. I can surrender to the fact that I can die from this. I don’t know when and I don’t know exactly how. Accepting it doesn’t mean I’ve lost hope. It’s just there. How can it not be after seeing so many friends die? But I don’t have to slam the door whenever the thought or fear comes knocking. I can acknowledge it, even allow it to visit for a while, then ask it to leave. Because my focus is still on living and loving the good times and the bad. There is so much beauty in life that I don’t want to miss. And it’s this knowledge of death that helps me not take any of it for granted.