Last week a new running friend asked me how I spiritually make sense of having breast cancer twice. This question came after I gave a brief overview of how endurance athletics have helped me save my life a few times, especially in the case of my suicide attempt in 2013.
Endurance athletics helped me access my body
The question, while unusual, wasn’t unexpected, given what I had shared. In addition to endurance athletics giving me focus and access to my body in a loving, supportive way, my early attraction to nature and the earth as a supportive, healing companion also has helped me stay positive, optimistic and hopeful, despite the very challenging life I have endured. I had shared with this new running friend that my earth-based, meditation-based spirituality also helps me navigate the trauma of my life.
Why breast cancer twice, body messages
I’ve not often talked about how I understand my two time occurrences of breast cancer. I don’t like alienating people. Some of how I understand the chronic conditions I’ve had and live with is a bit off the beaten path. I tend to regularly reflect on and consider what I can learn from what is presented to me. I believe that the challenges that are presented are opportunities for my soul self to profoundly learn. It appears that my soul signed up to learn quite a lot during this particular human life.
Diabetes woven into my story
My father had type 1 diabetes. He was diagnosed with it when I was one year old. I was diagnosed when I was 16 years old. I believe my type 1 is interwoven with my relationship with my father, which is complex and confusing. I was sexually abused and sexually mistreated by my father. I’ve done quite a bit of healing, therapy and recovery from that particular mistreatment. I’ve been able to forgive what happened. I no longer carry anger about what happened. It took many years of work to finally arrive at this place.
During the early years of my healing, I focused all my energy on my relationship with my father. I didn’t examine my relationship with my mother. I made the assumption that everything was fine in that arena. Turns out my body wanted me to pay attention. After my suicide attempt and what became clear after that experience with my mother, namely that she told me, while I was locked up in the psychiatric ward, that she thought I was a failure and she had no idea how I would straighten up my life, I got clear that perhaps all was not fine in my mother-daughter world.
Slowly, as I began to untangle my understanding of my relationship with my mother, I started to realize that my breast cancer was one way my body attempted to get my attention. Breasts are symbols of mothers and mothering. Apparently, in my case, my body was trying to get me to pay attention to my relationship with my mother. Turns out I had a lot to examine and do healing around.
Since 2013, I’ve worked with focus and intention to understand what was damaged and broken in my relationship with my mother. Of particular importance to the damage I experienced is that my mother was damaged in her relationships with her parents. We are talking about generations of harm and trauma. That helps me forgive and understand. Of note, it does not make me automatically want to have contact with my mother, who unlike my father, is still alive and lives just a few miles from where I live.
I am profoundly grateful for my deep connection to nature. Walking my dog often gets me to one of the best dog parks, the Minnehaha Dog Park, which is 7 acres and lets you and your dog walk through a forest and along the banks of the Mississippi River. I regularly hug trees and sit down in the forest. I feel my connection to the Earth.
Since I was a young child, I’ve felt my connection to the Earth as a healing connection to the universal Mother energy that is available to all of us, regardless of the actual mothering we got. I am profoundly grateful for the trees, the fields, the plants, the mountains, the rivers, lakes and ocean, for the mothering they provide.
New running friends
I am appreciative of my new running friends and that athletic friends in my life have repeatedly been people who care about the wholeness of one another. The depth of interest and compassion this one runner friend exhibited in asking the questions she asked, makes me profoundly grateful for the running and athletic communities I am a part of.
Community makes a big difference
I hope you too have a good community around you. It’s one of the best ways we will heal.
Thank you for reading this post this week. If you feel so moved, I greatly appreciate your comments and thoughts. I love hearing from you. I value your stories and your wisdom.
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