THE ICEBERG, THE SEED AND THE TREE
Taking a shower is probably one of my best thinking spots. I'm not going to take a selfie of THAT because that would be a WAY different blog. Today's mussing revolve around my picture that I posted the other day on Facebook. I posted that I was almost one year living with cancer on maintenance treatment. I had such an amazing response of wonderful thoughts, prayers and comments about my strength and how good I looked. I so appreciated all the love and care I received with my good news. Of course, when I took that picture I made sure I looked good. My hair was done, I had make up on and I used my best smile. I probably took 5-10 photos to pick the best one. I allowed everyone to see the tip of the iceberg. Really 80% of the time, no maybe 50% of the time that is how I feel. My outside matches my inside. But like I said, it is just the tip of the iceberg. Do you remember that visual from psychology class the Iceberg Analogy?
It goes something like this, above the water is the tip of the iceberg and can be quite small, this is what everyone sees. But underneath the water, the iceberg is ginormous. This is an analogy for all that stuff you keep hidden below the surface. That is what living with a chronic condition, like cancer, feels like. Now that my hair is growing back, I can do my job, take care of my kids and I look pretty decent in public; the assumption is that I am fine. I am living large on the tip of my iceberg. Like I said 50-80% of the time what you see is what you get. I am feeling good.
However, living with a terminal illness, my iceberg has a lot under the water. A lot of my stuff relates to quality of life. I am SO blessed and happy to have no evidence of active disease that I don't want to complain about the side effects because they are WORTH it. But, sometimes it is overwhelming to live with what is lurking under the surface. Some of that is fatigue, hot flashes, joint/muscle pain, chemo brain, chronic runny nose and watery eyes, exhaustion, muscle spasms and diarrhea. Sometimes I am so exhausted from going to work and making dinner that the thought of leaving the house again for night time activities is overwhelming. By the time the weekend arrives I really just want to sleep and try to recharge. Then I feel like I am missing out on the fun stuff. Sometimes when I get a day off work it is just for doctor appointments and treatment. It is like having another job. We don't make it to church as much as I would like because I need to rest and get the house ready to do it all again the next week. It is living within the spoon theory. Some days I wish I had a gazillion spoons to serve all of my wants and needs! With infusions every three weeks the cycle is relentless of average energy to low energy. There is also the constant worry and anxiety around my aches and pains thinking it might be progression. I never knew how exhausting worrying was. Worry about my future, worrying about leaving my children, family and friends behind. Thank goodness I just had my PET scan and had favorable results. SO right now my worry and anxiety is at an all time low.....for now. I have a bit of pep in my step and I feel better. But as the next 4 months go by it'll amp up again and the anxiety will rise. I think anyone dealing with a chronic condition or even mental health issues like depression can relate to the physical toll that it takes on your body and mind. We can look great on the outside strutting around on our iceberg but there is a lot hidden under the surface. So as a community we need to be kind to one another and save space for each other. We all have our own iceberg that we are navigating.
But my thoughts continue....this is a really long shower! I think to myself, how am I going to survive on my iceberg? How am I going to deal with all my stuff under the water? It is not melting anytime soon. I think about a blog topic that I'm working on "Manifesting my own resiliency" and I move into some visualization. I think about GOD and how if you have Faith as small as a mustard seed you can move mountains and well, in this case move an iceberg. I think about how that seed will grow into a beautiful tree.
SO I imagine powerful words: LOVE, HOPE, JOY, LIFE, I envision my support system: husband, children, family, friends, coworkers, and I think of my mantras: Faith not fear and Choosing Joy. I think of all of these positive elements in my life as becoming deep thick roots breaking through that ice and stabilizing my iceberg. I realize that living with cancer sometimes can feel lonely and isolating like you're out in this deep ocean all alone. But with God, my family and friends I have a strong tree on that iceberg and they provide me with shade and comfort.
I can visualize these roots busting up my iceberg. I realize that I can do this. I don't have to let all the STUFF under the surface of the water sink me. That it is okay to ask for help. It is okay to say no. It is okay to go to bed early. It is just okay. I can continue living my best life with cancer. It will not always be easy and sometimes it will be messy and scary. I will want to stay in bed with my cats. I will envision a mighty tree with me on the ice with roots going deep. My thoughts reminded me of the poem The Oak Tree that I received in a get well card last year. I hope that anyone reading this, going through any kind of trials or tribulations remembers that they too can be a Mighty Oak Tree. Keep on keeping on!
A tree growing on a rock in Emerald Lake. Titled "Death Begets Life", by Ireena Worthy. British Columbia.