FIVE MINUTES A DAY
It seems that every time I go to bed I have some list or plan for myself the following day. “This week I am going to run every day.” “Tomorrow I am going to get back on track and eat clean the whole week.” “I am going to stop drinking wine for the rest of the month and clean up my body.” “I am going to….”. blah fucking blah. The monkey chatter in my head revs up right before bedtime especially if I haven’t been taking care of myself the way I know makes me feel great. This is definitely my cross to bare this summer. I have had the best of intentions, but wine at five seems to call me daily and this usually sends my usual hard fast rules and regs about eliminating certain foods from my diet because they all cause cancer, right? Oh and by the way, so does wine as I heard in my regular nighttime health podcast last night.
Frankly, who knows what the hell causes cancer or BRCA 2 genes to turn on after they have been lying dormant for the last fifty years? Here’s the thing that I do know. When I found out I had breast cancer the first time, I had not been speaking to my mother because she acted so atrociously surrounding my Aunt Peggy’s death, (her sister). What annoyed the absolute fuck out of me was that she didn’t even acknowledge Peggy’s death to her own grandson, her own daughter, her own only remaining sister and so on. Her behavior as a human being, never mind my own mother appalled me and I just made the decision to take a big gigantic breath and step away from her for a little while. This is not an easy decision as a child from a parent and clearly it had major health consequences from the internal conflict and stress it likely caused. I really don’t think it was random that the BRCA2 genetic mutation I didn’t know I had got turned on and voila, breast cancer.
I called her because this is just what you do in families, you communicate things like this and hopefully shit starts to get resolved. Traumas can be an excuse for healing power between people and I am sure that the little girl eternal optimist hoped that a reunion of mother daughter would flow from the rooftops.
It really didn’t but I tried. We talked about feelings surrounding Peggy’s death and that’s all. We talked a little, but frankly our already fragile relationship was past the point of reparations. We kept up a good front trying to resume our Sunday chats about recipes and new kitchen gadgets and her new life in Alabama. They were strained but if I look at them without the rose colored glasses, they were always strained because alcohol is a mysterious vapor that takes hold of a relationship and strangles it with its invisible power.
Moving on the best we could, we tried to continue on and visited her while we were looking for colleges in the south with my son, Michael. Without repeating the saga of the “final straw” as Ann (aka my mother) would refer to the last time we spoke, she stopped speaking to me and told me to never contact her again. (LETTER TO ANN, CLARITY ON ANN and BOX OF WINE will revisit this sad story in my previous writings). Strangely the first time we stopped speaking was July 2014. I found out I had cancer March 2015. The second and last time we stopped speaking was July 2015 and I was diagnosed the second time March 2016. Is this a coincidence? I think not. I actually am not sure if food and wine have anything to do with this cancer gene turning on and off. I actually think it all has to do with this internal stress of parent child separation. It is simply not natural to disconnect from your mother. The irony of my partner’s job is that he is a family therapist and we have spoken in volumes about what family therapy has to say about this topic. I have struggled with this disconnection even though it was a toxic and very unhealthy one in my life. Having an alcoholic parent presents a round of challenges that simply do not exist in a normal relationship. The need to step away is ironically important for my health. But stepping away causes an internal stress hard to define because Ann is after all my mother and this in itself creates a conflict that is hard to reconcile.
For people who have known about my tumultuous relationship with her on the surface this choice of separation seems such an obvious need for my sanity. But the thing is that she is still my mother, we are connected celluarly and though we have been an oil and water mix since the day I was born, the disconnect is an emotional pain that is hard to move past. I really believe that this trauma is what triggered my cancer to activate twice. My off kilter plunge into sugar and dairy and wine this past summer I think is more my response to the stress of this never seeming like it can or will be resolved. As much as I know it is what is best for me and probably her as well, it is a scab that never heals. I woke up today thinking about my health and the choices I have been making this past summer deciding today would be yet another day I would attempt to get back on track and take care of my insides before I turn into BOX OF WINE myself. I know this will never happen. I am not Ann. But as I awoke today, my heart and spirit was feeling a little over charged. I made the coffee and decided again to begin my daily meditation of allowing five minutes to simply sit and breathe quietly. While the coffee was brewing, using the beep of the coffee’s completion to be my alarm, my heart pace slowed, my breathing got deeper and I opened my eyes and felt better. FIVE MINUTES A DAY to feel grateful for my life, my health, my child, my relationships, my shelter and my business. FIVE MINUTE A DAY to send Ann light and healing. I got up from my sit and wrote out my day, planning what I would accomplish assigning times to tasks knowing that this is what is best for my healing. What has not been working is the rush of my day without a plan and all of a sudden the day is night and I am settling down with a glass of Chianti and a plate of pasta. (not that there is anything wrong with this), but it is just not good for my emotional well being. Besides the puffiness and extra pounds, the emotional rollercoaster that wine and sugar cause this already revved up brain of mine is just not a good match for my life success. If stress is a major cause of cancer, then I need to figure out ways to settle my creative and very active and excited brain with healthy choices rather than the easier and immediate gratification ones. FIVE MINUTES A DAY of quiet reflection and five things to be grateful for are two definite ways that have always worked for me. As a matter of fact they have been so successful for me, I wonder why I step away.
This is life. Ups, downs, sideways, backwards. Life coming at me and what I do with it is variable. It will always be this way for my creative soul. I try to lasso it, but its potent joyful out of the box energy will not allow it. My growth comes from recognizing this and simply allowing the ebbs and flows rather than beating myself up for the times when I am ebbing rather than flowing. I just don’t want to get cancer again. Not knowing if it is the food, the stress, the wine that triggers this odd gene to turn on and sprinkle its cancer causing genetics in my body is the frustration in all of this. This is out of my control. This is the struggle. Releasing the control and the fears and worries and anxieties of the vulnerability of that is likely the cause of my flight to the easier choice of a delicious cold glass of white on a hot summer eve or a bowl of icecream after a beautiful bikeride. It is way too easy to release my stress this way. But fuck, it feels so good.