Change is Progress

Has anyone ever told you that change is a process? I have heard this over and over.  At one point I asked my therapist, how long is this change going to last? Of course, she didn’t have an answer for me.

“When life gives you lemons you make lemonade,” a friend of mine said.  It isn’t always that easy. If it was, I would have had my kids make a lemonade stand every weekend. I really could have used the money. Hearing that “change is a process” can be discouraging news.

What if you took that discouraging news and turned it into a challenge?

Ask yourself, “What is so hard about the process and what do I need to change?”

Reflecting back on a year long journey, I’ll never forget the day that I sat down at an Italian restaurant in Montecito with my friend Susan. I brought a pencil and a pad of paper. She sat with me while the only thing I could do was cry. We talked about my fear of dying from cancer. We talked more about how angry I was. Feelings of the past would come up and I would blame everyone. “If something makes you upset sweetie, write that down,” she said. That day six emotions were all zooming around in my head: anger, fear, anxiety, depression, compassion and respect. I didn’t know where to start. My friend instructed me to start with just one. So I did.

That day at lunch was the beginning of a process that would change my life. The process was called healing. I had a lot of healing to do. Healing from cancer wasn’t the only thing I had to heal. I never forgot what my surgeon said to me the day she told me I had Stage 111C Ovarian Cancer.  

“Sweetie, you are going to have to fight hard. Your cancer is a bad one.” She asked me if I was willing to fight. My first response was, “No, I’d rather just die.” She grabbed me, held me tightly while the tears poured down my face. Her white doctors coat was covered in my black mascara.  

Her response, “Yes you do! You have three beautiful children to live for.” I wasn’t thinking of my children in that exact moment. I was thinking about dying. I was afraid to die and it all hit me right then and there … I had a shift,  or what my doctor called the light bulb moment. I had to fight. That was a choice.

You just don’t wake up one day after the doctor tells you that your cancer is gone and feel like a million bucks. It just doesn’t work that way. Recovering from cancer is a long process. The mind needs emotional healing. I had a friend who lost her husband from a sudden heart attack. A year later, she is still healing. It’s a process. No matter what your situation is, healing takes time. Give yourself compassion. Give yourself love and be gentle with yourself. Take the time to heal.

Get a journal and just write. It doesn’t matter what you write about, just do it. It might be painful at first to revisit your emotions. Remember, it’s your journey and nobody else can help you heal. Well, maybe your psychologist along the way, but the real work comes from you. You have to do the work.

If you commit to doing the work, you will discover that there is a life full of hope and joy out there.

What do you want or need to change? First you must recognize that a change needs to happen. This is the hardest part. I encourage you to take 5 minutes of quiet time and write any thoughts in a journal. Nobody has to see them. You might discover there is something you don’t even know about yourself. Take the time to get to know “you” and what YOU want, not what others want from you.

I will end with a note from an author I just met who is writing a book called, Shift.  How ironic, I know. We met for a reason. She sent me a text message saying, “You are you and that is just perfect.”

Time heals and I’m ok with just being me.