Suffering in Paradise

Yeah, it’s been awhile since I wrote that last post. I just left it kind of hanging there. Well the truth is, I couldn’t write about what happened next because it was too raw. I felt too vulnerable.

It took me six months to sort myself out, and I went through hell to get back here. I guess everyone’s got their breaking point, and we all have ways that we get stuck mentally or emotionally. So that’s what was happening to me. I had to do a lot of soul searching, and I still am, but I’m calmer now.

When my daughter and I were visiting Sedona last June we finally got that call with the conclusive news of my husband’s situation. We were told he had stage 4 stomach cancer. We had already booked an Air B & B in Flagstaff so we drove there and started searching for flights to Australia.

Many Layers of Pain

I thought writing about what I went through would help me process it, but it didn’t. This “cataclysmic event” happened at a time when I was already trying unsuccessfully to process past trauma, and to find a way to move forward. Writing about it in a superficial way was like rubbing sand into a deep wound.

The same is true for my husband concerning dealing with past trauma. He’s had a rough life and we never thought it could get worse, until this cancer diagnosis happened. It was like we were each stuck in our own misery a world apart and then a bomb dropped and flung us into the same orbit together. It’s been a wake up call, and a very tough one for both of us.

The details aren’t important

I could write a blow by blow description of all the difficult and painful things that happened in our lives, but it wouldn’t help anyone reading this, and it wouldn’t help me or him. It would just be repeating the unhappy story we’ve been telling ourselves. Maybe someday I can write about how we turned it all around, but we’re still working on that part.

I’ve always been an optimist with a great deal of faith, and I’m quite practical. Usually I can focus on what needs to happen next. When I heard the news about my husband I went into a fog and I couldn’t function. Just under the surface of that haze was a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions that were all over the place. I was lucky that my daughter was with me and she could keep herself together.

Working on layers of recovery

Needless to say, I went to Australia. I spent about two and a half months there helping my husband deal with his diagnosis and treatment while falling apart internally myself. It wasn’t always pretty, and I wasn’t always helpful. Fortunately my daughter was also there for the first month, being more helpful and loving than anyone could expect a daughter to be.

I had to return to the USA because of my visa limitations and because of scheduled repairs on my house. To do everything that needed to be done at home also took two and a half months. During that time I went to counseling, and had EMDR therapy. If you’ve experienced trauma of any kind, or have emotions locked inside or troubling thoughts, I highly recommend it. I also got a lot of support from friends.

Meanwhile in Australia, family, community, social services and medical staff were rallying to support my husband. My two sons and my oldest son’s partner went to visit in October. Prayers, people and angels were moving things along one way or another.

And here we are…

Finally, around the middle of November, I felt I had made enough of an internal breakthrough that I could return to Australia and accept reality. It is what it is, and this is where we’re at.

Everyone has goals and hopes and dreams, and everyone’s got problems too. We make whatever choices we make for seemingly good reasons, but things don’t always work out the way we planned. There’s no magic formula to make everything go right. What’s more important is how we deal with what happens.

I pray, I meditate, and I write in my gratitude journal because these efforts help me process what happens in life. I’ve been a student of spirituality and religion my whole life but in the end life is only about love. How to be a more loving person. How to respond to both tragedy and joy unselfishly with compassion, gratitude and openness. Learning requires openness and we’re here to learn to love.

So we’re here in Australia. We didn’t get here the way we planned, and our life here isn’t what we planned for, but we’re here. Our relationship hasn’t always worked out the way we thought it should, but we’re still together. We didn’t accomplish everything we set out to do, but we were blessed in far more ways than we could have imagined. And now we have whatever time we have left on earth to appreciate the life and love we were given. What else could matter more?

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