Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Bit if Anger

Lately, I found a bit of anger moving through me "when I wasn't looking." It showed up a little indirectly - by way of my complaining about this person or that person or maybe every person I could think of. Oh and no. If you're wondering, it wasn't you. It was everybody else. And I didn't even realize I was being so negative until Daniela spoke up. It was just flowing through me without much notice by me.

What really got me square in the face was yesterday afternoon. I felt inclined to turn off the ball game for a little while and I took a moment to pray. As I was giving thanks to God for all I have been given, the thought went through my mind, "I have no faith in you. All my faith and I have a colostomy to show for it." Well trust me, it was no sooner that I thought it than I was deeply humbled by my own arrogance. After ALL I have been blessed with - a beautiful family, endless support from my community and then to be declared CANCER-FREE, it hardly seems sane to have lost faith. Sure glad I wasn't put to the test like Job. I barely made it this far.

So anyway, no. I do not want a colostomy. And trust me. I was humbled to tears that my faith had wavered so deeply after being so blessed. And, I am grateful that I took the time to pray at that moment, so I could see myself and where I am in this process. I also want to acknowledge it is not my intention to boast. I only want to honestly share what I experience because it was so very powerful.

And for Daniela, it has not been easy to hear all my complaining lately. ONE, because I haven't even been complaining about anything anyone has done. As I look back, I've essentially just been complaining about different people's various faults. Heck, if I want to complain about that, I've got fuel for a lifetime of complaints. I can add myself to the list for that matter. And TWO, she can see quite clearly that something is going on for me, yet she doesn't need to hear so much negativity. And that has been difficult for me as well. What a cranky old bum - Shut up!!!

Don't get me wrong - I wasn't going on and on all day long. But it was enough that we both noticed it. And I can see I've been mad about a combination of things - all that we have been through emotionally, financially, physically, spiritually. There has been immense beauty in this experience and clearly not without a cost.

I'll find my way to peace with this colostomy - you can be certain about that. But right now, I'm pissed that I have to deal with the thing. And I didn't really realize it right out of the gates because there was no ONE to be mad at - no one to blame. Fortunately, at the moment, my experience of the colostomy care feels more like the times I have had a cast on a broken limb and had to manage it. It feels temporary. yet it's so unbelievably foreign and odd and absurd that I truly can barely get my head around the permanence of it. But obviously a part of me is very aware of the permanence of it all. And clearly not pleased.

So, I have been reflecting upon that a whole lot lately. I am deeply grateful for the privilege to have life and indeed a cancer-free life at that. Taking a minute to be with that, my gratitude is truly greater than I can express. And it's odd to be so grateful for my life and at the same time, angry about the colostomy. Not an uncommon experience in life - gratitude and disappointment at the same time. But it's hard to compare similar experiences from the past to the last 16-months of my life.


  1. There are people we come across in this life who we can all recognize as bitter. But you are not that and you will never be that. You're going to move through this in your own time, you're going to learn tons more about yourself, continue to find strength you never thought you had. And before you know it you're going to be the guy who laughs about having a colostomy and inspires tons and tons of people who struggle with it in their own lives. That, my brother, is something I am completely sure of.

  2. Bert,

    Once again, I can identify with the emotional experiences you discuss in your blog. Thank you for being so honest about your struggles.

    I just went on this amazing retreat for women with cancer or chronic illness at Great Camp Sagamore in the Adirondacks. Before I left, I was having a run of cranky days. I think MaryGail was probably starting to run out of patience with me, which takes a LOT. On the way up, I called her from the road and she said that she talked to me about her hopes for what I would get from the retreat. Only then did it become obvious to me that my attitude of late had been wearing on both of us.

    The fact is: even though you and I have both been blessed in so many ways (supportive partners, family and friends, and a chance to live our lives cancer-free), cancer treatment can be permanently life-altering, and not always in a way that is comfortable. It takes time to adjust to the "new normal" and I don't think that either of us has even experienced our new normals yet. We are still on the road, waiting to get there.

    I don't know about you, but patience has never been my strong point, and I have been on this road for 10 months now, since my first biopsy. And I still have revision surgery on Aug 29th, which includes the creation of my new nipples, which will still need to be tatooed with color a few months after that. So I've got a ways to go yet, as do you.

    What I liked the most about your post on this was the manner in which you chose to pray about it. I often find myself having to pray for more. More faith, more willingness, more gratitude, more patience. Walking around Camp Sagamore this past weekend, it was so easy to remember God. The work of creation was all around me. But on the days when I feel trapped in my home by my pain or fatigue, it is much harder to remember.

    I continue to hold you in my thoughts.

    Maria Brown

  3. It's easy to understand your feelings. Faith is tested every day and there I times that I think it's failed me...then I see someone that has more burdens and yet deeper faith - it always slaps me back to reality! Congrats guy - you deserve all the good news!