Sunday, April 27, 2014

Changing Sponsors.

Over the many years I've been in Al-Anon, I have rarely changed sponsors, and apart from one other time, the changes have been a result of my having moved to a new city. This time, I decided to get a new sponsor when I went to see my sponsor and told her that the cancer had returned. I was in tears and very upset. She first told me that it was God's will, and then to "look on the bright side."

To say I was astounded, wouldn't be stretching the truth. I was gobsmacked. I don't happen to believe that our Higher Power is the agent of our sufferings - I believe our HP is there as comfort and support and encouragement during those times, but I don't think certain people get singled out for cancer, or any other disease. I think that it's genetics, and the randomness of nature. And, look on the bright side? What exactly is the bright side of cancer having returned?

I was not happy with her response, but apart from ducking a few of her phone calls, I hadn't quite decided what to do about it. Then at the last meeting of our home group, which my sponsor chaired, after we'd all gone around on the topic, she asked us to go around once more and talk about "what we could do to cheer ourselves up for the rest of the week." When it came to me, I passed.

She wouldn't accept my passing, and began asking me "What about such-and-such? Wouldn't that cheer you up? What about this? What about that?" I was stunned, because never in 29 years of Al-Anon meetings have I seen a chairperson refuse to allow a member to pass, or begin hounding them like that for an answer.

I managed to say again that I had nothing to say, thank you, and she finally went on to the next person, but I was livid.

I shot out of the room the moment the meeting was finished, and to my great gratitude, Robert was early, waiting there in the car to pick me up, lovely wonderful man that he is. I talked to him about it, and then yesterday, I talked to someone else who is a long-timer in program, without breaking my sponsor's anonymity, but explaining what had happened, and how I'd felt.

Through speaking with her, it dawned on me, that all along, since the first cancer diagnosis, I'd been feeling like my sponsor wasn't validating or acknowledging my feelings of pain, anger and sorrow. I don't know if she can't handle my feelings about it, or perhaps her own, but whatever the reason, her behavior has become less acceptable to me as time has passed, and I've been trying to deal with it.

Talking to my friend yesterday, I understood that with major surgery coming up in only 12 days, I do not need the hassle and stress of a sponsor who will not accept or validate my feelings. I need support,  love and encouragement. So I told my old sponsor last night that I was going to look for a new sponsor, then called a woman I respect and enjoy and asked if she would sponsor me. She was warm and receptive and agreed happily. We meet next Wednesday for coffee, and I'm looking forward to it.

I'm not angry with my old sponsor, I think she was doing the best she could. As with so many of us, if we know better, we can do better.

In a while, I will be walking down to the finish line of the 10k run/walk in which Robert is entered with some friends for the walk. I want to be there to cheer him on when he comes across the finish line. He has been cheering me on the whole way of my struggle with cancer, and I feel blessed and  grateful for him.

I want to thank all of you who have been supporting and encouraging me with your comments and emails. It means so much.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Better Attitude.

Sorry no posts for so long, I was reeling from the news about the cancer having returned. But now, a couple of weeks further on, my mood has settled more into acceptance and gratitude for all of the love in my life: friends, family, and my wonderful Robert.

One of the women in a group I attend weekly, came up to me before the last meeting, gave me her phone number and address, told me that she had been through one aspect of the surgery I'm facing, and would happily be there for me as support and encouragement. I called her a few days later, and she was encouraging and helpful. Her surgery was due to other reasons, not cancer, but it was the same sort of thing, and she is willing to come to my place and help me when I'm newly home from hospital, and to be a support by phone at any time. I'm supposed to call her this weekend, and go over to her place for tea and some more talking.

I felt far less frightened after speaking with her; she helped me to feel that I can get through the surgery and recover, although it's life-changing and invasive. I have no choice, if I want to live for any time at all, I have to get it done.

Tomorrow I go for a CT scan in the morning, in an effort to see if the cancer has metastasized to my other organs. If it has, I will be lucky to live for another couple of years, if it has not, who knows?

My brother is flying out from New York on the 2nd, and going home on the 4th. We were estranged for many years, and haven't seen each other for almost 30 years, so I am giddily excited at the idea of having even that short space of time to visit with him.

When I live in the moment, life is good.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Test Results.

I got the pathology results from last week's test. The cancer has recurred. So I am facing more major surgery as of May 9. I still have to hear about the tumour marker blood tests, and am waiting to be booked in for a CT scan to check for metastasis.

Today, I am feeling stunned by the news, depressed, despairing and highly anxious. I was standing at my ironing board working on a pattern I'm making for a friend, and had to stop and ask my Higher Power for help - the tears were streaming down my face, and I was completely undone.

I am not afraid of death. I believe it will just be like going to sleep - fading off into unconsciousness. I do mourn the possibility of leaving my beloved Robert far too soon. We haven't even had a year together yet, but it's been the happiest time in my life, and in his. We get along amazingly well, with no conflict, a shared delight in reading, gardening, and other pursuits, and a shared sense of humour. We can make each other laugh, and that's a gift.

It seems so unfair to have finally found the love of my life, and have to be enduring this misery with it. I was just beginning to feel like myself again from the last surgery, and I'll have to start again from scratch in a month. Worse, because this surgery will be even more invasive and mutilating.

I'm afraid I have nothing positive to offer anyone in this post today, just my own pain and sorrow.

Friday, April 4, 2014


Guilt can be a useful signpost that I have behaved in a way which contravenes my ethics or philosophy. In that case, it's useful, helpful, and makes good sense to pay attention to what the "still small voice" of my conscience is trying to tell me.

But when guilt is an overwhelming wave consuming me, it's always been a form of self-abuse. I am just not sufficiently evil to warrant that kind of guilt.

We cannot know what we don't know. It's self-bashing to look back at choices made before I had learned about alcoholism, and decide that I was a terrible person to have done, thought, or felt whatever it was.

Practising self-acceptance means that I work to forgive myself for my not-knowing. I work to let go of the struggling mess I once was, and forgive that confused unhappy woman. Life is different now, I am different, and I deserve to let go of the past. Today is a new day, the sun is shining, and I am at peace.

I'm going through a new round of testing to check for metastasis of the original tumour, the first test looked okay, but I have to wait for the biopsy results. It's a difficult time, I'm up and down with it, but overall, my mood is good. The sun is shining today, and that helps.