Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Fighting Like Mother Teresa

"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle.  I just wish that He didn't trust me so much."  -Mother Teresa

I am reading Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Cancer Book, and it sucks, mostly because I could be part of this anthology now, and not because it's written poorly.  It's actually very good.  This quote from Mother Teresa, so fluidly placed at the beginning of chapter two, is the first thing that makes me sick to my stomach.  Is that what is happening to me?  Should I be honored by the massive amount of chaos that is my life?  Well, I'm not.  And if you're up there, you can stop anytime.

I haven't prayed for a long time.  In fact, my spiritual journey kinda stopped after Ryan died.  I let it all go.  Didn't seem to be doing me much good anymore.  Recently, though, eastern philosophies, as opposed to religions, have peaked my interest and I signed up for a class on Buddhism.  But I have had a spiritual setback, from which I don't know how to bounce back. That day I laid, strapped in so tight, on the table, going in and out of the huge dunkin donuts looking sign they call a PET scan, I prayed.  I cried inside, and maybe once or twice outside, and prayed the whole time.  I didn't know to whom, but I did it with my whole body and my whole spirit, every piece of energy that I was in those moments, prayed.  It was the first time I was scared, really petrified.  This machine was going to tell me my future, and it was capable of destroying me.  I don't know if I was extremely tired, or the radiation was affecting me, or if something else was going on, but I went in and out of consciousness a lot in that hour.  And when they unstrapped me, and helped me off the table, I was as sick as I had been up to that point.  I felt like I was bargaining for my life. 

In  college, the story of Job was assigned to me more than anything else.  I wonder sometimes if it wasn't for a reason.  For those of you who don't know the story of Job, he was God's most faithful servant on earth, and God had blessed him for his faith.  Satan challenged God with Job's faith by saying, anyone whom you would bless so much would be that faithful to you.  It's not fair.  So God came back at Satan and said, if I took everything away from Job, he would still be just as faithful.  And God did just that.  He took everything, little by little, leaving Job a jobless, family-less, unhealthy mark of a man, until he finally said, as in the final words of Jesus himself, why have you forsaken me?  God killed his entire family.  He destroyed his business in a warlike manner.  He ostracized him and covered him in disease.  I sit and I think, this story sounds all too familiar.  I used to say, there was nothing that could shake my faith.  It was grounded in truth.  I don't say that much anymore.  What kind of egomaniacal monster would destroy someone to prove a point?  To make himself feel better about being loved?  I've been in codependent relationships before.  They never work out. 

I want it to.  I think it's odd how in my most frightening hour, I called out to a deity I hadn't spoken with in some time.  I have questioned, since that day, why I did that.  And I am working on an answer.  I am certain I will never get it.  I don't believe that when it comes to our spirit, we will ever know the truth.  It's there, we are more than physical beings.  We are more than just an intellect.  Emotions, energy, motion, is more than just matter; it's more than just pointlessness.  It has to be.  I believe my spirit is greater than my body.  I believe it existed before me.  I just do. 

But then I wonder why?  Why hasn't any of my deceased friends or family ever tried to contact me, comfort me, make me feel like things will be ok?  Why haven't they made it a point to let me know they have passed on, that they are ok?  Surely they loved me enough to want to comfort me.  Or maybe it doesn't work that way.  What if Freud was right, and religion was a hapless method that humanity created in an attempt to fill a void within us that life hasn't been able to touch?  Three thousand gods have been created in the history of mythology.  Are we really that imaginative?  Are we that perpetually incorrect?  Were none of them real at all? 

I am sure the answer will elude me my entire life.  I don't actually wish to find the answer to one of life's greatest questions.  I don't assume that much greatness for myself.  It's insurmountable for my feeble mind; I have enough going on.  In my life, I have taken on more scars than most of the people whom I know; all I've ever tried to figure out is why.  Why must I be the one who gets the burden of these crosses when others move so smoothly throughout their lives and never understand the weight of a real struggle.  I know so many of these people.  And I trust, that they truly do not know me. 

I wonder what it would be like to get to know someone on such a level.  But my general disposition has always been a little lethargic and dark.  I have days where my optimism consumes me and I want to implode and let it flow through me as if it were my own blood.  But it doesn't last.  I believe in self-fulfilling prophecies and mind over matter.  I believe my mind has caused the majority of my own problems in life.  It has caused the depth of my disease.  Ignorance is bliss.  And many of those whom I know who flow through life with little problems under their belt, don't reside inside the curse of constant reflection and the perpetual inward turn.  Sometimes, my mind, my ever so exhausted, blackened, scarred mind, envies them.  Sometimes, it's pity.  I'll continue on, knowing too much instead, thank you. 

So what do you do when you are in the midst of a spiritual, financial, physical, emotional crisis?  When every single part of your life is turned on its head and you have zero answers?  How do you face each day and assume to be okay, relaying calmness and self-sufficiency to those with whom you interact?  There's only one answer to that, Fearlessly.  Any other option ensues more chaos than is already in play in your life. 

That doesn't mean that you can't have mini-breakdowns in your private moments and break things will ball bats inside your own mind.  It's healing really.  But the only outlook you can have on  your life is fearlessness.  Anything else is going to get you killed, sooner. 

I guess it has come easy to me.  No, I don't know why.  It's just a mindset.  I dive into anything.  When I first got diagnosed with cancer, I immediately went online and researched the hell out of it.  Doctor said not to, but how could I?  I know that about 130,000 people each year get diagnosed with melanoma, mostly females between the ages of 19-29, and that about 10,000 people die of it each year.  90% survival rate, I'll take it.  Knowledge is your greatest asset in any situation.  Beating something, anything, has more to do with what you know and how you apply that knowledge than it ever has been about trusting allies, though they're nice to have.  I trust my doctors, I honestly do.  But I also know that they're busy and overwhelmed, and deal with this so much, that it is depersonalized to an extent for them.  If I don't ask the questions that plague me, I may never know the answer.  There's trust, and there's dependence.  Never make yourself dependent on anything or anyone.  No one is available all the time for you, except yourself.

Yes, I've lost friends and family.  I have dealt with health issues perplexing to the greatest medical minds of our time.  I've been beaten by the same hands that have held me in their most gentle state and felt safe through the night.  I have confronted suicide in the face and fought it off.  I have had my heart broken into miniscule pieces by indestructible forces.  I have been left alone for so long, that I have become almost awkward regarding attempts at communicating with others.  And I am still here.  I may have a heart only capable of beating, rather than loving; a life capable of moving on, rather than existing in the moment; conversation capable of type, rather than small talk; and memories capable of giving me stepping stones rather than comfort and glee, but, still, I am here.

I don't assume to know the reasons why I am given so much to overcome.  I only know how to overcome it.  Whether it is tests from a deity, the randomness of life, karma at its best, or my mind defeating my body, I continue to fight for my life every day.  I know that essentially, it is pointless, but I appreciate a good piece of art, and artful conversation, the love of an animal, the triumph of an underdog, facing a new challenge, the memories of loved ones, and, the best and the worst of it all...the hope of something greater to come.  Even if it never does, at least I can say, I was here, waiting for it, faith in hand, fight in my back pocket, always ready. 


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