I’m not super big on New Year’s Resolutions. I usually come up with three very achievable goals, and the third one has remained constant for the past 20 years, at least: Don’t suffer fools gladly. No. 3 has served me well.
This year, on top of my “resolutions,” I also decided to do more meditating. I’ve been practicing once or twice a day since January 2. (I slept through the entirety of January 1 because chemo and a head cold.)
I’ve been doing a lot of guided meditations, which is a new practice for me. I mostly appreciate guided metta, or lovingkindness. My favorite one right now is this guided metta from a workshop by Arinna Weisman on living with chronic illness or pain. I also appreciate this one from Tara Brach, on opening and calming. I’d love to hear what meditations work for you.
One of the things I’m appreciating about my new meditation practice is that it makes me feel like there’s room for more than despair, hopelessness, discomfort. It expands my perspective, even for a short while. I’ll take a short respite from suffering over no respite.
I signed up for a couple of one-on-one meditation sessions with a teacher I trust. In our first meeting, I told her about all the things that make me cry about chemo. For example, running into someone at the infusion center whom I haven’t seen in over a year, and who frankly isn’t looking her best, though her spirits seem bright as ever. Or watching the woman in the chair across from me finish her chemo, pick up her things and tell the nurse that now she’s going to the hospital to sit with her husband who is currently on a 24/7 chemo infusion. Oh, and did I mention that her adult son, who was sitting with her, had just finished his own chemo treatments?
My teacher offered that what might be happening is I’m minding my own business, putting one foot in front of the other, managing this beast one day at a time, and then I end up in a place where I see a little sliver of someone else’s struggle and it triggers my own fear response.
Sometimes I notice people looking at me with what feels like pity. I imagine that perhaps it sometimes is the case. Mac tells me it’s not so much pity as it probably is sadness and fear plus unfamiliarity and distance. That sounds about right.
I’m doing fine-ish. This shit is terrible, but I’m okay-ish right now. I even just made it through an entire three-day chemo infusion with only one fit of tears. I’m keeping it moving, one clumsy, resilient step at a time.
That’s life, I guess.