Baby steps are better than no steps at all. Since I’m the baby in my family, the youngest of two, I have a lot of experience with throwing tantrums, refusing to grow up and take responsibility, getting bullied and being afraid to venture out of my comfort zone.
What are baby steps? Switching to organic milk, signing up for a class, filling out a job application, turning off the television, trying a new recipe, calling a friend and inviting them out for dinner, buying a new pair of jeans, cleaning one small area of your home, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, being grateful instead of bitter.
Why not just taking a running jump? Because you’ll land flat on your face and nobody needs that. Once you gain momentum from the baby steps, gain confidence in you abilities then you can pick up the pace. It’s better to be patient and prepared when trying new things. Of course, there’s nothing more exhilarating than asking him out, buying the new car or making the flight reservation…just make sure you’ve given it some thought, consulted a friend and feel confident that your actions are in alignment with your highest good.
Since I’ve been in recovery mode for the past five years, I should be an expert at it by now. Or quite possibly just a straggler dragging my feet until I decide how to start living again in the *gasp* real world. We need people which is funny coming from someone who pushed everyone away and pretended she didn’t need love. I’m getting off track which is probably for the best. Who wants to hear about the basics of recovery? I do.
- Support system – friends, family, coworkers, therapist.
- Healthy eating – fruits, vegetables, lean meat, whole grains.
- Exercise – cardio, strength building, yoga, meditation.
- Creative outlet – painting, sewing, karate, writing, dancing.
- Faith in something – higher power, the universe, a rock star, television character, boyfriend, grandma, yourself.
- Determination – the grace and grit to get the job done.
- A sense of humor – the ability to laugh at yourself because life is funny.
- Gratitude – a deep appreciation for everything that we have.
- Connection with nature – trees, water, plants, birds, the sky.
- Find your purpose – soul calling, passion, what brings you joy?
The most important thing is to be kind to yourself and have faith that you will feel better. I wanted to be 100% back to normal. I put a lot of pressure on myself because a) I thought it was possible and b) my ego couldn’t handle the setback. I was the last one to realize cancer was going to change me that it had changed me. My mind/body/spirit went through a hurricane, the proverbial “dark night of the soul.” Instead of falling victim to post-traumatic stress, we can choose post-traumatic growth. What can I learn from this? How to treat myself with loving kindness. What are the inherent gifts of struggle? We become more appreciative of life.
It’s my job as a survivor to show the world that I survived the storm. Whatever that looks like: fast, slow, grouchy, giggling, blooming or withered. I give myself credit for being a brave warrior and notice that in some ways I have changed for the better. I am stronger and wiser. I see more clearly and hear more deeply. Changing my mentality from an angry victim to a proud survivor hasn’t been easy. Every day, I send light to the darkness and choose love over fear. Making peace with my new normal is a humbling experience making me realize how silly I was to doubt my beauty and youth.
Affirmation: “I am confident and capable, I am healthy and strong.”
Recovery is the process of healing pain and moving forward. For a cancer survivor, the sickness can linger long after the illness has been treated. The residual yuck clouded my thoughts and slowed my movements. I’m not who I used to be. Everything is different now. Where did my confidence go? Will anyone love me now? A shower is great for washing away dirt. What about the shame and confusion? You can’t wash your insides out. Crying became an effective way for me to release the pain and I’m sure my neighbor thought, “What is that girl’s problem?”
I’ve been through a lot and healing takes time. We have to grieve what we’ve lost, and it may take awhile, but it’s better to heal the right way than to take short cuts, numb out or pretend everything is fine. The problem with pretending everything is fine is that your body/mind/spirit knows better and feelings don’t like to stay bottled up. My first blog post is becoming very honest. I’m sharing this because the truth sets me free. Cutting is a form of self-harm, a short term solution for long term pain. This happened a few years ago.
Cutting is not the answer. There are healthy ways to deal with messy feelings: exercise, write in a journal, make art, call a friend, talk to a therapist, eat a healthy dinner, watch a funny movie and get a good night sleep. Each of us has an inner child who is yearning for love and attention. Soothe her or him with healing words. “I’m here for you, everything is okay. You are safe now, the past is over. We can create a happy, loving, amazing future. The angels are cheering us on.”