“Like water I am poured out, disjointed are all my bones. My heart has become like wax, it is melted within my breast. Parched a burnt clay is my throat, my tongue cleaves to my jaws.” (Ps. 22:14-16)
Scheduled for thirty six radiation treatments, four small marks resembling large freckles were permanently tattooed on my chest precisely pinpointing the boundaries to correspond with the area needing radiation.
Sitting in the waiting room, lacking any semblance of a spiritual being, drool leaked down my chin. Three women, also in hospital gowns opened at the back, mirrored the terror in my eyes.
The moment I saw the sign on the entrance door to the radiation room, I began my “chin-quivering-drool-tic”. Large letters read “DANGER – KEEP OUT”. Panic enveloped me when my name was called. Walking through the “DANGER” door, I enter a large, cold, windowless room comprised of strange looking stainless steel equipment.
Smiling, are four people in white coats. I immediately begin backing up while wiping the irritating drool from my quivering chin. It is hard to project assertiveness while one’s chin is quivering and wet with drool.
“Who are you people?”
In a cheerful voice like they are about to give me a gift they chime, “We are your treatment team.”
With high pitch panic in my voice, I say, “How come no one told me that I would be having four new people? Where are Chris and Mary, the treatment team I have been working with, the ones who tattooed me, I want theeeeeeeeeeeeem.” I sound like a child about to have a tantrum.
Instantly I see the change in their faces and body language. They stop moving and begin talking to me in that tone people use when they are “handling” an out of control, irate or mentally ill person.
Backed up against the wall, feeling like a trapped animal without anything to wipe off the embarrassing drool; I am freezing, baring snarled chattering teeth and wondering how I can be acting so irrationally while simultaneously feeling mortified.
Ashamed of my childish behavior, wild eyed, I scan the room. The treatment team diverts their eyes as one says in a chirpy voice, “Would you like to reschedule for another day?” Resisting the urge to hit her, I obediently move toward the large stainless steel table.
I allow them to position me on the table. Mike gently slides the gown off of my arm exposing the right side of my chest for treatment while diligently making sure that the left side of me is covered. Oh how I blessed that man for his intuitive compassion.
After mathematically lining up the radiation machine with my tattooed spots, the staff hurries out of the room leaving me alone with the tears that I am unable to stop.
Next time, knowing I had created an unfavorable situation, I made amends. They were forgiving and most understanding. Thereafter, Mike made sure that my remaining breast was always covered even chastising a visiting doctor one day who ripped off my gown like a bothersome label on a string bean can.
By week three, my chest was so raw I wanted to bite someone’s head off. I hurt and I wanted to take it out on someone. Anyone would do. A police officer passed by in his patrol car, I remember thinking, Go ahead, pull me over for not wearring a seat belt. I dare you to ticket me.
I thought about driving through the latte stand hoping that they would make a mistake with my order, perhaps forgetting to add the coffee bean on top of the cup. I never ate the stupid beans, but that did not stop my entrapment plot. Of course, on this day, they did everything perfectly thwarting my plan of attack.
Next, I called J.C Penny’s billing department. I was quite terse with the man on the phone who remained professional throughout our conversation while fixing the problem. Another fight plan thwarted in its tracks. Where oh where to put my anger?
Hanging up the phone, I cried. I cried because my chest burnt so badly. I cried because I deliberately tried to provoke someone, anyone, into an altercation just to relieve my tension and frustration. With all of my therapeutic training, twelve-step knowledge and spiritual longings, I would have thought that I was above such archaic behaviors. There were many days that I felt tired, ashamed and disheartened. Other days, I felt deep compassion for all aspects of myself. These were the days that I fell in love with and at one with all humans and creatures. These were the days that I felt enveloped in the arms of the Eternal.
“God is not found in the soul by adding anything but by a process of subtraction.” Meister Eckhart
Have you ever wanted to be mean to someone/something when you were hurting?
Did you realize you were displacing your feelings?