Two years ago today, I endured a 7 plus hour long surgery to remove ovarian cancer. At that time, I had no idea the extent to which it had engulfed by innards. I still have the scar, though two years later, it has faded with the passage of time. I spent Christmas in the hospital. So, this time of year brings up a flood of emotions and not all bad. While I am beyond grateful to have survived the surgery and 16 months of chemotherapy, I also struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (aka PTSD). The shorter days, the colder temperatures, the falling snow, the Christmas carols all remind me of what happened two years ago. I have nightmares and anxiety. I deal with what seems like a perpetual state of bracing myself for being attacked: literally, figuratively and metaphorically. I know this is normal. I am Emotionally scarred.
I am not alone in sharing this experience. Ask anyone who has experienced cancer. To some extent, they too, have emotional scars. Scars are a permanent reminder of what we have experienced: a sort of Life’s Record. The scars we can see have stories to tell. And, so do the scars we cannot see. I worry that our internal scars, by their very nature, are ignored. Because we cannot see them, we deny their very existence.
I must admit that lately I have been trying to ignore what I have been through. It’s anniversaries, like today, that remind me. Today is a day that I could have only hoped for two years ago. I am alive. And, more than just alive, I am healing from the inside out. The emotional wounds take more tender loving care to heal.The process cannot be rushed.
I practice patience and loving kindness towards myself and others during these difficult moments. And, mostly, I forgive myself for thinking that it shouldn’t hurt this much. Sitting with pain is something I don’t seek. I seek the courage to sit with pain and to honor my invisible emotional scars.