The Critical Care Unit team punctured my lung trying to put a central line, after I lost consciousness from sepsis in the existing line. In order to pressurize the pleural cavity while it healed, I had to remain tethered at all times to a ventilation machine hooked up to my chest. This meant that the bathroom was beyond my range, and so my room was outfitted with a portable commode that could be reached within the 6 foot radius of my breathing apparatus.
In unrelated news, doctors and physician’s assistants don’t pause between the “knock” part and the “enter” part of “knock and enter.”
But a funny thing happened on the road through the underworld: I stopped connecting my dignity to the functioning of my flesh. I’d gone into the hospital fully aware that their only tools were incendiary devices. I could hardly be surprised to find myself immolated.
What was it, though, that needed to be burned away? Certainly, there was no cure for cancer in those sterile corridors. No, it was something else, something I needed to find, or to lose, in that place. Something that it would be easy to overlook, and, in doing so, miss the entire benefit of the journey.
I need to be very clear: the reason I had to go to the hospital was because there was some level of utter ego dissolution that had to take place, in order for me to be able to find my way home. It was not because they had the tools of cure there, but, rather, because they had the tools of suppression and destruction that I required to buy the time to keep looking.
The horses of healing and death run neck and neck, and my job was to recognize which horse was which.
One of the most brilliant aspects of the marketing of the mainstream medical system is that they tell you you’ll be miserable, and maybe even die, and the only promise they can keep is that the bills will be enormous regardless of whether you live to see them, and the customers keep lining up. They do it because they are afraid, and the medical system offers freedom from responsibility through its insistence on absolute authority over your process.
If you’re sick, if you’re scared, sometimes you just want someone to tell you what to do.
Here’s the tricky part, which may seem, superficially, at utter odds with my exhortations elsewhere:
Sometimes that’s a good thing, if it allows you to identify which job is yours and which job is someone else’s.
True healing is achieved through a combination of taking responsibility for your healing, while relinquishing control over the process.
What happens if you are thirsty and you try to drink from a firehose? You will come away bruised, but not hydrated. Culturally we have been conditioned to be completely passive about our health; as free people, we are learning to reject this mindset. However, passivity and hyper-activity are mirrored polarities; neither is the path to ease. Health is knowing when to act and when to wait; patience is the better part of process.
I told you in Part 1 what I did when I received a cancer diagnosis: ALL THE THINGS. Well, it turns out that is cancer. Cancer is trying to force something into being that isn’t meant to be in that form. Auto-immune diseases are misguided blitzkriegs on friendlies perceived as invaders. Anxiety is the panicked urgency to control the future.
So what’s the true correction of these courses?
Allowing the forms and functions to emerge. Cultivating curiosity about what seeks to enter, and then entering the understanding of what is meant to be within, and what should stay without. Tuning your ear to the little bird that sings and then accepting the invitation to dance, whether the step is light or loud, whether it swirls or is still.
Detonating everything in the arsenal at the specter of disease is, to your vital force, what a firehose is to your thirst. There are many paths into healing, but they all must start here:
But what does this look like in practice, in the moment when you are confronted with what feels like the overwhelming urgency of your mortality?
I went to the hospital to be reduced to ashes. I came up kicking and found myself forced to lay down on the pyre again. And that’s when I learned that asking only works if I am willing to receive. We walk our paths alone, but we choose others to walk alongside at whiles, and, if we mean to benefit from their presence, we must allow them to be who they are and not what we would have them be.
The dynamic exchange of human energies is encoded in the field of this material human body; we require it.
All our healing is contained within us, but we need other human beings to help us access it. And in order to allow them to do that, we must trust them, and we must trust the medicine we choose. You cannot be healed through a process you expect to let you down. It may feel like powerful agency to reserve your commitment, but it is veiled victimhood. If I request support of someone while secretly, maybe even subconsciously, daring them to fail, I will turn off my own access to my recovery. It is not that I won’t experience any changes; I may, I may not. But I won’t honor it; I will be fighting the descent to the deep places where the true shifts occur. I will continue to rearrange the lonely beach chairs on my victims island, where nothing ever works and no one ever helps.
I didn’t find my health in the hospital, but I could not have followed the guides that opened the portals to that path afterwards without choosing, consciously, to walk directly into the fire I feared the most. And to do that, I had to recognize why I feared it. I was frightened by the loss of the person I had committed myself to believing I was, the person who was in control, the person who was different and better, the person whose story of herself had to be her story to the world.
The person who thought she knew what she didn’t know.
But I didn’t know there was a dragon in the tale.
Thus Ends Part 3. Complete.