Cancer Chronicles, Part 15

I was thinking about control and being controlling last night, thinking about how they play through my life now. With the cancer diagnosis and treatment, and even after finishing treatment, I found myself going back on decisions I’d already made in an attempt to give myself some control of what I was experiencing in the moment. Pain, for instance. I’d tell myself, “If you hadn’t had brachytherapy, if they hadn’t stuck you with eighteen catheters through which radioactive seeds got sent to your breast, you wouldn’t be in so much pain. What were you thinking?”

I know I’ve written about this before, but it’s worth writing about again because in the attempt to not feel what is going on, whatever it is, the mind goes crazy. “If only I hadn’t done X, then I wouldn’t be feeling Y.” This gives the illusion that the pain or whatever the Y is, could have been avoided if only I’d made a different decision. But it also causes untold suffering. And swinging back to childhood, natch, there was the feeling that if only I could anticipate the disaster that was around the corner, I could prevent it. I could control it. I could control the pain. It’s helpful for a child to hold on to that belief (as a means of survival), but not for an adult. Not for me. And those neural pathways are so grooved in that I can find myself believing that there are such things as mistakes and I am just about to, or have already made, a huge one.

Such suffering. It’s a rat’s nest from which there is no emergence. The only thing I know to do is keep catching myself believing that there is such a thing as control—and that if only I did it right, I’d have it. It’s a lie. Hearts break. Cancer gets diagnosed. People we love leave or die. And still, still, we get to choose whether we are going to be here for the whole wild ride of earth school. And what a ride it is.

To read more in the Cancer Chronicles, click here.

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