The day before my surgery, I got a Facebook note from Jr. High/High School friend, saying “It sounds like you are preparing for the worst. You are going to be okay!”
I was confused by this because I believed that I was preparing for the BEST.
I went back through my Facebook posts to see what would make him think this. I couldn’t see it. Then a close friend called to say how it’s been wonderful for her to watch my process and the way I’ve shared it. I realized that was it.
Most people are not open about health and processes of healing. We’ve been taught that these are private matters. They are also a place of extreme vulnerability and most people do not want to be that vulnerable, be seen as vulnerable, or even know how to be.
I have worked very hard to be comfortable with vulnerability and to be able to share myself in a real way with people. I see my vulnerability as one of my best strengths and I am surprised when people don’t see it. I consciously use self-disclosure as a teaching tool and there is vulnerability there that my students appreciate and learn from.
I’m proud of how I have opened myself up in my process of deciding about and planning my myomectomy. I wish more people would not isolate themselves with their health issues. I know someone who is dying right now and is not taking visitors for the most part. I know someone else who passed away this year and her death opened her up to invite people to witness her vulnerability in a way she’d never been able to. I can’t pretend to know what the twilight of my life will feel like, but I’m gonna’ guess I’ll want the people who love me close.
For my surgery, I have been open with my loved ones. I have written emails sharing what this decision is about and what I need with my close circle of friends. One friend offered to arrange a care and healing schedule, to which I said yes. This took pressure off of me to be managing visitor logistics or being the one to say when visits would be too much. She put this schedule into a grid and posted it to Google Docs where my friends could take a look at it and add themselves to it for caretaking shifts. It has filled in beautifully. Two friends stayed overnight with me in the hospital, others offered round-the-clock visits bearing gifts of coconut water and miso soup. I’ve had visitors caring for me and cooking healthy food every day for the first week I was home until I actually just wanted to be alone to collect myself!
This would not have happened without my leadership. I outlined my needs and wants ahead of time so people knew what I needed. I walked towards this surgery and the removal of unwanted tumors seeing the opportunity to let go of things I don’t need—physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. I mentally and spiritually prepared myself and surrounded myself with care and love. I would want that for anyone. Vanity, pride, vulnerability and fear often get in the way of inviting others to come with us on such journeys. I’m not interested in organizing my life this way or in feeling I ever have to do it alone.
As I have gotten older, I’ve realized it is these journeys that are the significant markers and touchstones of our lives. They ARE the journey. Each time a crisis, a health issue, a big change, or shocking, hurtful event happens, we are issued an opportunity for transformation. What a magical place to be witnessed.
And by allowing my friends and chosen family to be with me to take care of food and logistics, to love me and be present with me, I have freed myself up to do not only my physical healing, but also my emotional and spiritual internal work that is such an important part of this process. If I don’t, the tumors could come back. And I’m determined not to allow that to happen.
The people who love me want to be there and be a part of my healing. By offering them the opportunity, I allow them to be closer to me, and to shine a light on any part of themselves that sees a need for “going it alone.” And I didn’t have to.
Like I said, I expected the BEST. And I got it.