I’ve been wanting to write a blog for a while, but every time an idea or the mood strikes, something peculiar seems to happen. A voice, barely even loud enough to be heard, but somehow forceful enough to stop me in my tracks always says, “NO.”
“No one wants to hear what you have to say,” it hisses at me, somewhere in the landscape of my mind. The voice feels as though it’s coming from me and yet it feels strange, foreign. It is a bully that lives within. At each barb, I flood with anxiety and begin to question myself, making unlikely, irrational assumptions. A spiral of shame, guilt and doubt begins to build within, and I suddenly feel certain I am worthless, hated, unloved.
A couple of years ago, in an effort to continue to tame this voice and these feelings, a good friend suggested I label the voice. I named it ‘Becky’. For as long as I can remember, ‘Becky’ has been there; telling me negative things, creating negative narratives, and bullying my spirit into submission. I spent many years in my twenties doing cognitive behavioural therapy to try and re-train my brain to behave differently, with significant success. I’ve continued to work towards individual growth and understanding of these feelings and behaviours for many years since, and before my transplant I made a promise to myself that in my next life I wouldn’t listen to ‘Becky’ anymore.
While preparing for my transplant a lot of things in my life shifted into perspective and one of the things that became painfully clear to me was how often my own fear and self-loathing stopped me from being who I was meant to be. I could clearly see the opportunities and chances I had missed in my life out of fear and self-sabotage and I felt deeply angry at myself. I spent most of my life trapped inside the madness of my own mind; a world filled with untrue negative assumptions and feelings about my life and the people in it- and the worst part was, I put myself there. I really had no one to blame but myself. I felt a deep sense of shame and guilt for just being me; for not being able to control my thoughts and feelings. I felt like a fraud. It was awful.
After my transplant, Becky was seemingly quiet, and I thought I had finally won the war. Living in fight or flight gives you little room for internal turmoil. There is no point in fighting with yourself when you are already fighting a war outside, bigger than you can manage. After everything I had been through, I was feeling stronger and more capable than ever- but when the acute emergency of my experiences began to fade and I ebbed into ‘post traumatic stress’ territory, Becky returned. Louder than ever.
I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to get ‘Becky’ back under control. I went back on an anti-depressant because I fully recognized I was losing this war on my own and that’s OK. I’ve spent my days going for long walks outdoors, listening to audio books and guided meditations that are meant to re-train my thoughts and re-center my focus. Moving my body, connecting with the outdoors and returning to messages of love and safety are how I’m trying to let go of ‘Becky’ and re-discover myself.
The hardest part about finding ‘myself’ is recognizing deep inside the most vulnerable and terrified part of me, there is a feeling- that I’m not sure if I have a ‘self’. I’ve spent most of my life so profoundly controlled by my own fears of abandonment and being disliked, that I am not sure if any part about me is truly real- or if I’ve simply fabricated a life and personality that will be accepted by most. I’ve had to ask myself questions like, what do I truly want- and then be hit with the reality that I’m not even really sure. If I were in a vacuum and fear, failure and being disliked were not possibilities- Who would I be? What do I like? What would I say yes and no to?
I had to stop and come back to this blog many times because the usual fears kept popping up. “This blog is pointless”, “Nobody cares,” “Why would anyone want to know about your life.”
But something in my heart says, someone else needs to hear this. Even if it’s just one other soul. Someone else needs to know that they are not alone. That it’s OK to be sad, to struggle, to fight within yourself and try to find peace; and it’s OK if that fight takes a long time. It’s fine if you don’t know who you are, or what you want, or where you’re going. You are infinitely accepted, loved, and gifted beyond your knowledge.
Most of the things my ‘Becky’ tells me, aren’t true. So when I feel inner conflict over a thought, or a thought begins to dominate my feelings, I try to question the thought. My favourite questions to ask myself are Byron Katie’s 4 Questions from ‘The Work’:
1- Are you sure it’s true?
2- Can you be absolutely sure that it’s true?
3- How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought?
4- Who would you be without that thought?
Looking at your thoughts from a different point of view or perspective can immediately shift the power they have over you, and can quickly make you notice when irrational feelings attached to that thought or belief are causing you unnecessary pain.
When I’m really struggling to find positive voices in my own mind, I simply insert someone else’s positive voice. Right now, my favourite thing to listen to is ‘Energy Speaks’ by Lee Harris. It’s a strange but wonderful book- almost like meditative style, channelled conversations from the universe teaching you gentle lessons of life. It’s filled with positive and affirming content that pushes you to discover your own feelings of truth and belonging.
These last couple of years have been truly daunting for us all. We’ve been pushed beyond our limits and placed in situations beyond our control. We are living in isolated worlds away from the connection we all need and want to feel alive. We’ve lost jobs, careers, homes and had to make many changes in our lives in order to survive this pandemic. We live in a perpetual groundhog day- doing the same things day in, day out, just waiting from safety and freedom. It’s ok to feel a little lost right now- I think we all do.
What I want you to know most is- You’re not alone. You’re not unloved. You are amazing. You are needed. You are a unique and needed part of this universe. You are enough.
AliceOctober 14, 2021 at 3:27 am
Thank you for sharing from your heart! Beautiful!
CadenceApril 18, 2022 at 6:37 pm
Thank you for taking the time to read, I really appreciate it so much. Sending love and hugs <3
Kate AtkinsonOctober 19, 2021 at 3:03 am
Cadence, I’m crying. I needed this so badly. You were absolutely right.
Even just knowing that I am not alone in feeling this way is a precious gift you’ve given me with your time and energy and wisdom. More than enough.
I think of you often and came to visit your blog to see how you’re doing. I miss the community of cancer liver-withers (survivors? thrivers?) I had before the pandemic.
Thank you for writing — thank you so much. Love to you as ever. I’m glad you’re here.
CadenceApril 18, 2022 at 6:36 pm
Hey girl! I miss your face! I hope you are doing well, and I agree, I miss our community of surthrivors, maybe we should plan a get together in the summer so we can all catch up. Sending love and hugs <3
Kristy SimesonFebruary 23, 2022 at 2:11 am
You know what? I had a brain tumor in 2019 that required surgery & then 6 bouts of Chemo followed. And then I had stem cell transplant & from the time I was diagnosed I thought I am going to fight this & I am now almost 2&1/2 yrs in remission. You are a young & beautiful girl. You got this girl. If you ever want to vent or ask me anything you have my email. I am Alicia’s mother. She worked with you at Lone Star. Stay strong, you got this
CadenceApril 18, 2022 at 6:34 pm
Thank you so much for sharing your story with me, you are a warrior! I appreciate the encouragement so much and am here to chat any time also:) I know sometimes it can be hard to find people who relate to our journey. I remember Alicia, please tell her I say hello! <3