Today’s post will focus on acceptance and the role it plays in recovery. I have been having a rough couple of weeks and my work lies in acceptance. I have let myself go down the path of sadness and frustration and those emotions have swallowed me whole. Those of you who know me know that I sleep a lot. I am in bed early and up early. I function best on 8+ hours of sleep each night. Even pre-cancer, sleep deprivation made me grumpy and impacted my emotions and stress my level. Fast forward to now…both the chemo itself and the Lupron shot I am on, which will hopefully preserve my fertility, are causing hot flashes. My body is going through a manufactured state of menopause. The lack of sleep is making it difficult for me to manage my stress level and my emotional bandwidth is non-existent. I feel like I am constantly crying and I can’t manage my emotions as well as I could pre-cancer. The emotions can feel so strong that I get lost in the emotional world and it’s hard to pull myself out. Logic loses the battle time and time again. You may be wondering, what am I going to do. Yes, I have a right to feel this way. Cancer sucks, and I deserve to wallow in self pity and cry for as long as I want, but the question is do I want to dwell in the pain and sadness and frustration forever? The answer is no. I am not happy dwelling in pain and sadness, but how do I move forward? Everywhere I turn, the answer seems to be acceptance. In order to move on, I have to accept where I am right now. My therapist suggested I think of the situation as quicksand, the more I fight it the harder it is to break free. If I just lay back and accept the reality of my current situation, the easier it will be to get out of the quicksand and improve my state of mind.
A difficult part of the acceptance process for me has been adjusting my expectations. I have always had high expectations for myself, which many times are unrealistic. I set myself up for disappointment and frustration with these expectations. Throughout the cancer process thus far, I have had to lower my expectations to match my abilities as my health declines with each treatment. After this second round of chemo, which hit me harder, I have had to adjust my expectations yet again. It is disappointing to have to continually adjust and accept my limitations. The types of situations and emotional challenges I could handle with ease a month ago, have become more difficult. A month ago, a sad song on the radio or a disagreement with my husband over what to have for dinner could be handled calmly. Now those same situations are resulting in meltdowns and way too many tears. Accepting this reality will be a continuous challenge for me but I am willing to put in the work.
With all this in mind and the tools from our therapists, I will focus on the following goals for the coming weeks. Hopefully these adjustments in my perspective will bring me more happiness.
- Allow myself a designated “pity party” time and place each day
- Adjust my expectations to match my current abilities, accepting that this may have to be done after each chemo session.
- Remind myself that this too shall pass and my limitations are temporary
- Remember my priorities!!! Get through chemo and heal my body physically and emotionally
- Everything else I may be stressing about can be prioritized after I beat this cancer and heal my body. As a good friend said to me, I have plenty of time to be skinny after cancer. I need to prioritize what really matters right now.
- Complete one act of art per week. I love creating artwork, but I never seem to make time for it.
- Move by body as much as possible (biking, walking, stretching, yoga, etc)
I’d love to hear what tools you find especially helpful during difficult times. Maybe it’s a song, a special meal or meditation.
I hope my work with acceptance and the tools I have shared can help you focus on acceptance in your life. As always, thank you for your love, support and encouragement throughout my journey. I hope my struggle and my growth can inspire others around me.
With the encouragement from Kayla, the Executive Producer of Vinicble: a documentary about young adults battling cancer, I am going to start creating video diaries to include in some of my posts. Bare with me, this is my first attempt. The video quality is bad and I was super nervous.