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Bravery

December 17, 2013

“May I be capable of accepting myself as I am: a person who walks and feels and talks like anyone else, but who, despite my faults, is also brave.” -Paulo coehlo

Bravery.
Without it, I am nothing.
Without it, I may crumble.
There are days when I feel even the thought of it is impossible.
Then I close my eyes,
I breathe in,
I breathe out,
And in that instant I know,
As long as I have breathe,
I must be brave,
And grateful to face the day ahead.

Having cancer makes every thought, every moment, take on a new intensity. It is both beautiful and terrifying at the same time. In the moments where I just focus on my breathe, the simple miracle of breathing both makes me smile yet also brings me to tears. Once a day, I meditate. Even if it is for three minutes, I force myself to be still, to be present with myself. When I was first diagnosed, being still and being present were both impossible feats. I would close my eyes and panic. My throat would close and no matter how hard I looked, I could not find my breathe. At that time, I was not brave enough to be still. I was petrified of what may happen if I paused long enough to think- if I actually had to stop and try to process all that was happening. Being on autopilot and simply pushing forward was easy. Well, not exactly easy, but a hell of a lot easier than having to stop and think.

As time went on, I began to wonder where I was-I was losing myself. Wrapped up in doctors, scans, appointments, bills, herbs, medicine, decisions….the list goes on. I had so much to focus on I forgot to spend any time and focus on me. Where was I in the midst of my new normal?

Then, last June, after fourteen months of pushing forward, I decided to travel for ten days on my own. Before cancer, this was never even a question, I traveled to exotic places by myself, reveling in the adventure and enjoying my own company. Now, I was petrified. I wasn’t sure if I was brave enough to be alone with just me.

The first morning of my trip, I went down to the beach before the sun rose. I sat in the cool damp sand and looked out into darkness. Slowly, the sun began to creep over the horizon. As it rose into the sky, I closed my eyes and felt the rays of the new day’s sun begin to warm my face. I took a breathe in, and I imagined I was breathing in all the warm light around me. Then, I took a breathe out, and pictured all the darkness of the past year leaving my soul. The intense emotion of that moment made me want to open my eyes and run, but I stayed. I needed to be brave enough to stay. With each subsequent breathe, I began to find myself a little more. As I sat there, just breathing, I began to feel like me-the person I had lost somewhere when cancer took over my life. Tears streamed down my face, and when I opened my eyes, I felt more connected to myself than I had in what felt like a lifetime.

From that day forward, I have spent at least a few moments of each day in this way. Giving myself the gift of presence. Giving myself the time to breathe, taking in the light and letting out the darkness.

“If you are never alone, you cannot know yourself. And if you do not know yourself, you will begin to fear the void.”
-Paulo coehlo

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From → cancer

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