Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Manifest Self-Trust

Recently I had a medical concern that could have been something very serious. I ended up having a relatively easy procedure done and it was determined that it wasn’t serious, i.e., I didn’t have cancer. It was a very scary month for me and going through it provided me a great deal of compassion for those of us who are not as fortunate and end up having serious diagnoses. The other gift of this episode for me was the realization of how much I still need to learn about trusting myself. I consider myself a fairly intelligent and informed person with a good dose of self confidence, yet when a nurse from my doctor’s office tells me that I have to have a procedure done, I buckle in. First, is the realization that something could be seriously wrong with me and I could die. Next, is the rage at the injustice of it all. Then, some self-sympathy mixed in with a whole lot of fear. And finally, for me it was the rage at the doctor who couldn’t have picked up the phone herself to tell me this. This bothered me the most. This lack of compassion was unacceptable from a physician who has been my primary care giver for the past 6 years. How often do we give our whole trust to people who frankly don’t deserve it. But today, I’d like to address the trust in ourselves.

In the place where I had my procedure done, there were many women like myself. Some with huge envelopes with past X-rays and diagnoses, or better put, with their sentences in hand. Some with heads down and sheepishly waiting for their name to be called. We are so vulnerable when we are sick and we’ll do anything to get better. Anything that is, but to trust ourselves. We give away our trust to the nurses, technicians, doctors and anyone who is an “expert”. It is as if we are saying, “take me and fix me, make me better, please…”. And what is interesting is to observe that nurse, technician, and doctor. They are just doing their job. If being friendly is part of the job, then they are friendly. If making sure the machine is working properly and that you are situated on the bed the right way, they are doing their job. I wonder how many of them actually look at the patient and see a whole human being, scared out of their wits and begging to be healed. Perhaps they are too busy to look at the patient that way, perhaps they are too professional and good at their jobs to be interrupted by such thoughts. Or perhaps, because no one asks, they don’t offer that kind of compassion.

Trust is one of those concepts that we all have had an experience with when it comes to another person. For example we all know what it is to trust or not to trust someone. However, the trust I am speaking of here, is trusting ourselves and what we are going through. When I was waiting in the waiting room with my gown on, petrified and annoyed that no one cared, I sat with those emotions. I did not run away from them, I did not resist them or talk myself out of them. I faced them and accepted their presence full-heartedly. I even asked my fear, what it was all about. I realized after this dialogue, that I wasn’t afraid of death, or pain. I was afraid of having to go through the whole process of waiting and trusting the doctors with their solutions. What if they were wrong? What if their solutions were not the best? So I kept on breathing and allowing myself to feel these feelings. There was a great sense of peace at the end of my processing. I felt relieved that I had trusted and honored myself. From that place of stillness I was able to speak to my caregivers. And amazingly, they were able to hear me. In my case, I actually told all of the care givers what I was feeling and how scared I was. I also told them I did not appreciate waiting for two hours past my appointment time to finally see the doctor. To my surprise, they all welcomed my concerns and addressed all of them. By trusting myself and not second guessing my own emotions, I was able to create a relationship where we both felt as equals. Sure, I was the one on the bed with the hospital gown and they were the ones providing the care, but they saw me as a person, a whole person. When we don’t speak our truth, we are depriving others of getting to know us and to treat us as whole beings.

After that, the procedure and what followed was like a breeze. In fact, even getting the results a week later was not as important as one would imagine. My great sense of accomplishment came from facing my own fears and loving them. I also learned that it is ok to be vulnerable and afraid, just trust and honor that vulnerability and fear. Going further, share those feelings with those around you. If they love you, it won’t change their view of you and it will help them understand what you are going through. If they are your care providers, they will see you in a different way, as a whole being emotions and all. If they are a person going through something similar, they’ll realize that it is ok and normal to be afraid and if they feel the same way, they won’t be embarrassed. So all and all, I learned a great deal from my medical scare!

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