Sometime last year I was asked what my best vacation ever was. And due to my dark sense of humor and general snide attitude I said, in that oh so matter of factly way people tell me I am so good at, “Chemotherapy.”
I meant it as a joke. But I kept thinking about it over the next few days and realized I was pretty much telling the truth. The after effects of my big 38 day date with chemo benefited me far more than staying in any luxury spa where every whim was pandered to. I have gone lots of places and seen lots of things, but nothing changed me as much as the chemo. Nothing has come close. Plus, you know, the chemo saved my life. It is really hard to compete with that. I will admit that during the initial onslaught of chemicals in my veins I would never have seen it this way. But, sometimes our most important journeys are the ones that really try our souls.
Well now when I get asked this question I am not sure how to answer, will I continue saying “Chemotherapy,” or will I say “my Vipassana course”? Yep, that is how important these 10 days were.
The chemo destroyed me and I had to rebuild myself up cell by cell, physically. I totally became a new person. I started to stare at my old self and habits with disdain — how had I let myself get that way. So as my body regrew itself from zero, I started to make sure I embraced this change in all aspects of my life. I made a concerted effort to mirror this change in all avenues of my life. And really, I thought that I was “fixed”. I was indeed very different. I started to forge new paths, leave most of my previous life behind, only holding on to friendships that added to my life. And even then, often at an arms distance, as people expected me to be the same that I was previously. Only I was not, nor could I be that person any longer. I seriously wonder if who I was was more poisonous than the toxins I agreed to inundate my body with. On most days I have to think I was.
But I was not “fixed.” Well I may have been physically, but as I discovered during my ten day Vipassana incubation period, my mind/body was still very polluted. The chemo may have expunged the disease, both lupus & the anger/rage/wtfever that had taken over me, but the misery the disease bread still lingered within, along with acres and acres of previous misery. And while I have to think it was not able to control me with as many marionette strings, it still had many, many hooks in me.
Now I continue to expunge this indo/exoskeleton of misery that has reshaped my body far more than my disease I am afraid. I meditate at least one hour a day, most days I get an hour in when I wake and before I go to bed. It is fairly time consuming, I will be the first to admit, but the results are beyond question. After one session I feel physical weight has shed off me. Okay, maybe not actual weight, but my body is lighter and open for the writing of positive experiences as I slowly shed my misery that has defined me for far too long.
It really is hard work. It causes me to cry. A lot. I spend quite a bit of time trying to convince myself to skip sessions everyday. My mind/body muscle memory does not like the changes. It would be easier to not do it. I would have been easier to sit at home dressed in a three piece suit of despondency after getting my kidney diagnoses too. Neither is an option.
So as I forge the path I will walk down until I can no longer stand, I will need my cane to hold me and my damned leg up and I will lean on the stick of Vipassana as I propel myself up the path.