Rupture and Repair

There is a psychological construct the holds that all growth/healing happens through cycles of rupture and repair. I don't know that I believe ALL growth happens this way, but I do know that the times when I've had the biggest growth/healing spurts, whether it's psychologically or spiritually or even physically, came after I was completely flattened.

It was a year ago today that I found out I had breast cancer.

Which turns out to be the single greatest lesson about living I've ever had. Seriously, it was such a huge gift.

Cancer reminded me that the human body is incredibly valiant. Cancer taught me about the goodness of people. Cancer taught me self-compassion. Cancer revealed the incredible kindness of the people in my life. Cancer brought me back to listening to my body. Cancer freed me of all of the emotional baggage I'd been carrying. Cancer broke down all of the barriers I had erected against experiencing life on every single level.

Cancer helped me crystallize the vision I had of how I wanted to show up in the world.

As I compare and contrast the life I have with the life I was living before I was diagnosed, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am happier, healthier and more embodied than I've ever been before.

Cancer will give you some serious perspective. That's a pretty good trick for something I hope I never have to deal with again. And wow, I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but I also wouldn't wish that experience away from myself. I'm not defined by cancer, but cancer had a huge role in helping me define myself as I entered this next chapter in my life: post-divorce, almost empty nest, starting a new career trajectory to become a therapist.

I guess it takes getting utterly lost to look for a new path. That's the rupture, right? Or maybe cancer stripped all of my resources and defenses away so I could lose my attachment to making things happen. I tend to come up with what I think is the best plan, and then pursue that even when all signs are saying, "ix-nay on the an-play."

Because my plan was to get my kids settled and off to college and then become a Buddhist nun. That was my plan. (Stop laughing.) I was searching for peace and a way to be of service in the world and I kind of thought I was done with romance. Frankly, what I wanted was all the time back that I'd spent trying to make romantic relationships work. So, I was working up to my own Pema Chodron incarnation. 

As one does.

Enter a breast cancer diagnosis and suddenly, I didn't want to run away and hide anymore --which I think is what my other plan was about. Suddenly, my body became a lot more precious to me. Suddenly, I realized that I hadn't really been *living,* just existing as some very quiet version of my best self. Which, you know, is the wrong thing to model for my kids and a very pale version of the vibrant life that is our birthright.

So, I started saying, "yes."

I started going on adventures and taking chances and dating and spending a lot of time with people, especially people I love and admire and who inspire me to be the best version of myself possible.

It's been an amazing year. I have met the greatest, most interesting people. I have a whole community of people to talk to and be with and who are now part of the fabric of my heart. I am incredibly blessed. I am so held.

And after seven months of online dating (which was seriously hella fun, I'm not even being facetious), I'm seeing someone more exclusively now and getting to test my theory that the way to build a relationship is to choose that person every day for as long as it feels true.

My voicemail message says, "Hi, this is Barb and the answer is probably, "yes." Leave a good question after the beep."

Thanks for the rupture and repair, cancer. 


ccr in MA said…
Congrats on the year! On making it, and on it being such an amazing and unexpected year.
Bethany said…
love and hugs and YES!!!
Lana said…
What a great bit of wisdom to wake up to this morning. Thanks for sharing. Love to you and yours
Shaatzie said…
Saying "yes?" to life is an incredible experience. A whole world has opened up to you.

I thought I was off your blog-list. I'm grateful that you are still sharing your life experience
with me.

This is a beautiful, affirming message from an angel. You have ascended, my dear,
and you help hold the rest of us up. Thank you, thank you!
Anonymous said…
May I just say how much I have missed your writing? And how beautifully you write? And that saying yes is such an awesome concept. One I am trying to embrace whole-heartedly.
Judy Lee said…
Can't we make "Say Yes to Life" a religion like Buddhism? So happy to see you writing :) Hugs angel!
Unknown said…
Go you! I'm so happy that this journey has brought you new wisdom and joy.

Also, I recommend listening to Krista Tippett's conversation with Helen Fisher about her years of study on romantic love - I love the idea of everyone needing 3 marriages (even if it's to the same person).

Rosie Cepeda said…

This post really makes me happy, happy for you and happy for me too because with your talent for speaking from the heart you always find a way to speak directly to me too! Kind of crazy and kooky since we really have never even met except IRL, just goes to show that the body is really limited in what it can do!

Sending love and peace,

Rosie (meeusea)