“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
– Plato

Nobody is relaxing

I’m flying to Florida tomorrow to be with my mother who’s not well. As I pack for the trip, I ask Pumla – the ‘practical magic’ woman who works in our house – if she and I seem to have more tribulations than others. With a sweet smile she replies, “Nobody is relaxing, Kathy.”

Her sentiment jogs a memory of the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago. Doctors said that in my case, the disease was probably due to stress, aka: not relaxing. At that point, I was relatively young, relatively healthy and no ‘first degree female relatives’ had been diagnosed with breast cancer. So stress was the Cause for me.

I remember thinking at the time, ‘I don’t have any greater stress than anyone I know.’ To me, regardless if the situation is emotional, physical or financial, stress is stress.

Whether a woman is:
working at a job she doesn’t like,
living with someone she doesn’t like, or perhaps going through a divorce not initiated by her,
experiencing major trouble making ends meet,
or a woman waking up to the sound of gang fights, (as Pumla does) who worries about her children’s’ present and future.
All of them are living with stress.

In the end, Pumla is probably right. Nobody is relaxing.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer, in my case, was not due to everyday pressures. My stress, my daily dis-ease, was the disease of ‘not being enough’: not smart enough, not diligent enough, not conscientious enough, not transparent enough. I wasn’t ‘deserving.’

At night the negativity of those ‘free radical’ thoughts would settle insidiously in my heart. I later discovered that 95% of cancerous tumours in the breast are located on the left side, the heart side.

Then, 2 years after a particularly devastating incident, the cancerous tumour became catalyzed, or galvanized. And indeed, research suggests that cancerous tumours will often manifest one and 1/2 to 2 years after what is called a “Conflict Shock”.

I had an aha! moment, a moment of recognition and certainty, when I read an article by MetaMedicine www.metamedicine.com (Thanks for the article, Liz Cunningham!)

MetaMedicine says the Disease Process has four phases.
(I’ll cover these in the next few newsletters.)
Conflict Shock
Conflict Active
Resolution
Healing

Conflict Shock

In the first phase you experience a Conflict Shock, which is:

a. unexpected – came out of no where
b. dramatic – TO YOU
(Doesn’t matter what those involved think or how they saw it.)
c. isolating– no one seems to understand
d. unresolvable – you don’t know how to deal with it

Over the years, I have spoken with quite a few women who have had breast cancer or who have known someone who had breast cancer. When I ask them whether a “Conflict Shock” was experienced, all of them said yes and concurred with the timing. They were able to identify a ‘betrayal’ of sorts, though they might not call it betrayal. They often labeled it a “drama”, a drama that was difficult to address. The woman couldn’t allow herself, or didn’t feel free to really feel her feelings and express herself.

Many excuses keep us from speaking up in business, or with family and friends. Among them:
I don’t want to be a drama queen (in essence, we’d rather betray ourselves.)
I don’t want to rock the boat (too much is at stake)
I want to stay under the radar (when you’re walking on eggshells, it’s better to be invisible.)

If a Conflict Shock has happened to you (or someone you know), if the experience is so hurtful that it leaves you speechless, find your voice (or help them find theirs). And don’t just make a phone call, or write an email. Visit that person, bare your soul, and don’t let up until they completely understand that you need their help to resolve this. If they don’t want to help, don’t have the time or energy to help—walk away from them forever. Be Brave and Forgive Yourself. Joy will return.

“If the role you are playing is breaking your heart,
wear another costume, play another part. “
(from Helena Dodds)

While we have no dialogue, no honesty (and no forgiveness) with family and friends or business partners, we can’t expect countries and governments to be transparent. Honesty and bravery has to start with us; it has to start with women.