Monday, June 14, 2010

Fire in my belly

I woke up at 12:30 this morning with stomach pain, again, along with a cough that's lingering. It's been about a week now (maybe longer) where stomach pain has returned .... cramping and a burning sensation -- like a fire in my belly. I've also had slight pain in my chest, a tightness and almost a feeling of suffocation ... and a few days ago, the fire moved up to my throat. A couple summers ago, I had this persistent cough that would not go away.  It feels the same again ... a sore throat, pain when I cough and like mucus is suffocating my lungs. No question: my body is fighting something.

I believe so much of all of this is emotional. Physical disease and symptoms manifesting and finding a way to give voice to emotions buried alive - suffocated. It's time again for me to have a breast MRI. Will my cells have progressed to full blown cancer? And in a month, I'm due to have my pancreas checked again ... with every meal I now have to take pancreatic enzymes. Doctors can't explain what caused my pancreas to stop functioning.

These past couple of months have been hard on me, and on my siblings and family as we deal with my mother recently diagnosed with alzheimers. It has brought up so much for me as I have struggled to be a good daughter and to do the right thing.

Writing is healing for me. So in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep and I was finding ways to soothe the burn in my stomach and my throat, I sat down and started writing in my journal ...

There's a fire raging.
   Anger. Grief. Loss.
Down to the cellular level.

Papa: you died when I was 4. I was there. I was in your hospital room that Friday afternoon in 1968 when you spirit soared to heaven.

And Mama: she clung desperately to you and her spirit went with you that day leaving only a physical shell - an empty shell fueled by promises, by obligation, and yes, love too. But a love so beaten, so fragmented it left a 4 year old trying desperately to pick up the pieces and to fix something she didn't understand.

At 4 I had my first life lesson: death - it takes two forms.
At 4, I became an orphan.

There's a fire raging in my belly.
  Unexpressed emotions feeding disease.

There's a fire raging in my lungs.
  A child's voice screaming to be heard.
A child - tired, lost, afraid.
An adult - physical body: battered and beaten down. Yes, a survivor, but a lost survivor.

How do I let this fire out?
How do I stop the scorching?
How do I give this 4 year old child, a voice?

How do I teach this little girl to live, to play?
How do I rewire words she was told - "a sign of an educated person is self control" - and let her know that it's not only okay, but good for her to cry?
How do I help her feel safe and let her know that only through her tears will she put the fire out?
How do I comfort this little girl, whose adult now has to be a mother, to a little girl whose mother died emotionally the same day her father died?

A new fire has emerged and has ignited a much deeper fire.

The fire is spreading
  from my breasts, to my pancreas, and now my lungs and my throat.

Around me, and within me, I hear:
"Tears are the only way through this fire."

Question is ... Can I learn to walk this new path before it's too late?

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