“Suffering has a noble purpose: the evolution of consciousness and the burning up of the ego.” Eckhart Tolle
Today has been a day of discouragement and resentment for me. I’d hoped to enjoy today, the day before another round of chemo, but instead I found myself mired in negative emotions. My mind understands that having expectations, good or bad ones, is not the best path, but my emotions can’t quite get away from worrying that this round of chemo will be as bad as – or even worse than – the first round. That first round of Taxotere on December 15th was rough on me. Lots of bone and joint aches, and my right knee was really painful and limited my mobility for several days. It’s almost been worse to have another week to feel even better (because the cellulitis put this chemo treatment back a week). Now I think of how I felt so strong before the last chemo treatment, only to be hit really hard. I felt rotten for quite a while.
Because it’s January, I think of Janus, for whom the month was named. Janus was a Roman god who had two faces looking in opposite directions. He was a god of doorways, transitions, beginnings and endings. A liminal god. And that is where I am now – a liminal place. An in-between place. I’m not healthy, but I’m not sick. The cancer is gone, the tumor cut out, the nodes clear. But I’m not well, because more chemo poison gives better chances that cancer will not return. So I sign up for more suffering. I know that Tolle’s quote above is true. I feel the noble purpose happening through this cancer journey, but that doesn’t make me less resistant on days like today. I just want to feel better in a straight line going up, not a wavy line of better then worse then better then worse. And I want this suffering to be over with, to be done. Soon.
And I think of my New Year’s resolution, to practice lovingkindness and compassion with an open heart. I choose my resolutions with some trepidation because I know that that resolution will be directly challenged during the year – and I won’t like it. And here I already have that resolution challenged, and not in a way that I expected. I need to practice lovingkindness and compassion with an open heart for myself. I was thinking of others when I made that resolution, but I also need to be kind and loving to myself, and that will help open my heart to others.
As my ego burns up, I’m like Janus, looking back at where I’ve been and looking toward where I’m going. This liminal place, its unsteadiness, makes me uncomfortable, but I can hold it in my heart with lovingkindness and give myself the compassion I’d give to someone else. It’s okay to be scared of pain, to want to be comfortable and well. It’s okay to be in a time of holding back and wanting to jump forward at the same time. It’s okay to dread suffering even though I know it serves a noble purpose. Being kind to myself helps me open my heart. I can be Janus and live in that liminal place. Even if I don’t like it.