Setting Myself Free

Its been a while since I have written about cancer. I had a few posts on my old site, but as I mentioned, it was so clinical that it was more information on the process of staging and treatment; I didn’t write much about how it changed me at my core. How it made me question so much and not just the meaning of life, but upon reflection, it seems to be a catalyst for the process that I am going through in my life right now.

As a (non practicing) Reiki practitioner, I learned that there is a body mind connection to disease. I am by no means implying that I caused my cancer, but the body mind connection just makes one think and reflect. I was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

As a virus is the most dominant cause, the body mind connection is one of feeling violated or penetrated by someone or something that is deeply disturbing you. Look at issues to do with your vagina, your sexuality, or abuse that you have been ignoring or denying. These may be experience of past sexual abuse, issues of shame or guilt, repressed longings that have never been fulfilled, or confusion with your own sexual preference.

Your Body Speaks your Mind – Deb Shapiro

When I read that whole section (there is a little more after that). I was like; “yep, all of the above”. I questioned why I was ever with men when at times I had a preference for women. This year, 3 years after the diagnosis, I realised that PSTD from a sexual assault was triggered; hence the trauma exposure therapy. And in that whole process, starting to unpack the shame and the guilt that I had experienced for most of my life. There were so many times I wished I was not a woman because my woman-ness was pretty much the cause of so much hardship in my life. It sounds so dramatic, but to come to love and appreciate who you are as a woman, is a journey for many of us because I believe as women, we are shamed for things we should embrace.

I was referred to a therapist for my lack of libido by my oncologist. And in those few therapy sessions all this came to the fore. Although we focussed more on the sexual assault; in most of my reflection time, I reflected on words said, terms used, comments, remarks and just how anything of a sexual nature had been dealt with or discussed when growing up; by family, teachers and peers. Girls who fancied boys a little more than others were called sluts, girls who wore short skirts were seen as easy, girls who liked other girls were going through a phase. Sex is bad and those who did it were naughty (well that only applied to girls, the boys were hailed as studs).

Honestly, I was so ashamed when I was pregnant because instead of being congratulated I was asked; “How?” and “What naughty things have you been doing?”. We truly under estimate the power of words and how they can affect the very core beliefs that end up being so incredibly unhelpful; especially when you are dealing with a cancer that was pretty much caused by sex.

This was always one area of my life that I hid away because of shame, because of guilt, because of fear of judgement. But at the end of the day, I learnt that it is a woman’s (and anyone who identifies as a woman) birthright to embrace herself, embrace who she is and not be ashamed of her sexuality, where she finds pleasure and how, because that is what we are entitled to. The language needs to change, the shaming needs to stop.

As shit as having cancer was, and let me be clear, there is nothing positive that comes from having cancer… The one thing that has transpired is a strong desire to live more authentically and although I had done some work in terms of shedding some layers, this has definitely been an area that was neglected and is now getting air time. It is a weird time of learning and discovery and being more open about things no one should be ashamed of or shy away from. If my sexuality or sense of entitlement to pleasure (in whatever form that may be – as long as its not affecting anyone else) offends anyone, they should check themselves and ask themselves why and ask themselves if they are living true to themselves…

More on this another time…

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