Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Yesterday a Cloud, Today a Tree

Five years ago I completed my training for a not for profit organization called "Growing Through Grief" - an organization that supports children through loss, separation, divorce and death.

As I was flipping through my old journals and notes, I came across something I wrote after the training.

Firstly we were asked to cut out a picture of an object that accurately describes you.  I immediately wished I was a tree but I cut out a picture of a cloud instead.

The clouds from the top of Kilimanjaro
Clouds are free moving. 
They go where the wind blows them.  
They constantly change.  
They are fluffy & pretty but, 
they can become black and angry.  
They provide shade when temperatures soar
They can also pour down on those who sought shelter in the first place.
They are unpredictable, ominous, shifting & fascinating.

(I think that's a pretty accurate description of me.)

Oh how I wish I were a tree!

 We were learning about the symptoms of grief in a child:
  • Stomach pain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Bed wetting
  • School phobia...
I interrupted... explaining to the group that those were all signs of possible serious illness too. I was upset and shocked that no one recognized that.

As we carried on, I began to wonder why that triggered such a reaction in me. Then I realized that I never dealt with my own grief as a child. I then wondered if I manifested the grief into CANCER. 

I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 10, it was at advanced stage 3 because no one listened or believed my symptoms were real. I complained for years but no one seemed to care so I shut it out and developed an extremely high tolerance to pain.

I miraculously survived but I wasn't just left with physical scars. The emotional scars and trust issues remain and they are deep.

More upsetting still is that our family doctor recognized the symptoms of grief yet did nothing. She told my mom I needed more attention. I was the sort of child who learned to entertain myself, staying clear of the drama that my siblings thrived in. I didn't get attention unless I was in their way. My happiness irritated them so I kept it to myself. I was often told to shut up if I laughed at my own joyous creating. There are very few photos of me smiling as a child as a result of this. Years later they'd tell me how miserable I was and ruined every family photo.

I blamed the cancer for the symptoms but could it be possible that it was the other way around? What if the neglect created the ovarian cancer? I believe that if it wasn't for having cancer, I would have remained invisible and insignificant in my family. I could have easily followed the wrong crowd. Looking back on my life, as a teenager I looked for love in relationships. I am pretty certain that if I didn't have cancer, I'd be a teenage mother. Is it possible that my soul knew it and changed the course of my life? In my epiphany I believed it was so. 

I wonder sometimes how my life would have turned out if I had been physically healthy? I might have been an emotional wreck from the neglect. I might have followed the family trend to get into drugs and alcohol to numb my pain. I guess there's no way I'll ever know. Having cancer put it all into perspective. I experienced a lot of grief and disappointment in my life, from a very early age. But I also learned to be resilient. I was a survivor.

I dealt with the disappointment of my dad leaving which might explain how I get over failed relationships quickly. Or perhaps it's because I was born with my moon in Aquarius which means I can easily detach from emotion. I detach. I try not to be callous about it, I can get on with life.

I was able to heal much of the disappointments in love as a result of the lack of a relationship I had with my father. I learned that no matter how much you love someone, you can't change them, they must want to change themselves. If they can't change, it doesn't mean they don't love you. You can love someone but not like them. Sometimes you need to walk away from people you care about so that you can learn to love yourself.

But today I am less of a cloud and more like a tree.

I am stable with my roots grounding me to the earth.
I provide stability for others to rest their weary wings.
I stand tall and proud for everything I've accomplished.
I bend with the wind rather than shift with it.
I grow stronger with age.
I have purpose, even if I don't bear fruit.
I absorb the negative and I emit the positive.

What a difference five years makes. 


The tree stands alone
Waving it's branches with pride
At nature's beauty 

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