Keep your heart center open

Most of the time I want to post snark. Snark about students, work, the weather, other drivers…always about others.

I didn’t realize this until today at yoga.

During triangle pose Hannah said, “twist up and keep your neck soft. Keep your heart center open.”

And a voice inside me said, “to myself.” Keep my heart open to myself.

In a heart to heart (ha! No pun intended.) that my mom and I had right after L finished treatment and I graduated in 2010, she said that the hardest part of my moving on would be tolerating others who have not experienced the trauma that we have. That the moving on for me would be marked by moments of exasperation and frustration and impatience. Funny how mothers know us and can get to our very core quicker than any other. I am fortunate that these words were said to me with love and empathy. But, they were still hard to hear, mostly because they are true.

Impatient. That is how I feel most days. Even now, 4 years later. Impatient. Why was that truck parked at the gas station (it’s a gas pump not a parking spot), while the engine idled (duh! gas!), and the driver chuckled on his cell phone? Why is he in my way? Why is he blocking my way to the pump? Doesn’t he know I am already late? Doesn’t he know that I have been through more than him? Doesn’t he know that my son and our family have been through a lifetime of fear and agony and so the rest of life should be smooth sailing?

I thought all of those things in the span of ten seconds this morning, all before 8:15am. That’s a lot of thinking and a lot of brutal self-awareness. I so desperately want to move on from our experience with cancer. Yet at the same time, I wear our experience with cancer like a badge of honor, trying to be an advocate and drum up awareness. I use it like an angry megaphone, when maybe a quieter instrument would be more effective.

In the deepest, truest parts of my soul, I know that there is still healing I need to do. I need to forgive myself for not seeing L’s cancer sooner. Maybe if I had looked harder I would have seen it sooner.

I need to forgive my friend who betrayed me when I needed her the most. I need to forgive myself. Long before she betrayed me, I saw things in her that made me uneasy. I chose to ignore them. I shouldn’t have.

Many of the things that are frustrating me about others, are really things that are unresolved in me. The thing with trauma is that it takes your locus of control and flips it upside down, backwards, and sideways. In childhood cancer world, there is not control. You are a slave to the protocol and absolute neutrophil counts (ANC). We spent 15 months rudderless and hyper-paranoid. It’s exhausting. The re-entry into a world where I do have control (in theory) has been long. It has been arduous work that I underestimated.

I can’t go home again. I am not the same and neither is home.

Today in yoga, a voice told me that my snark is about me and not anyone else. Today in yoga, a voice told me that I need to keep my heart center open- to myself.

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