I have decided that being told you have cancer sets up a kind of inner archaeological dig. Back and back through many layers of thoughts, beliefs, feelings. Of course you don’t have to be diagnosed with cancer for this to happen, although I imagine that it often takes a jolt to the system (like the current coronavirus and its many ripples). But for me, it’s prompted the desire to reveal what has haunted me that I didn’t realize was still haunting me. Like old beliefs about my childhood. My mother. My father. Like the belief/certainty that “I was neglected.” And what I see now is that I’ve taken that belief/decision and transposed it on almost every relationship I’ve ever had. What I am understanding is all the places and people with whom this belief has shown up — she neglected me. He neglected me. They neglected me. Abandoned me. Seeing myself as the victim, the one who was done wrong to. I’m not exactly sure why a cancer diagnosis would bring this questioning up even stronger, given that I’ve had forty years of therapy, but it has. (Um, a voice is now saying while rolling her eyes, do you think it could be the death factor, Geneen? Yup. I think it could be…) But whatever the reason, every time I feel like a victim, I pop out of it and question my part in it. Sometimes it feels like scratching nails on a blackboard, but even that is better than being hunkered down in they did me wrong.
To read more in the Cancer Chronicles, click here.