Three years on, there are tears in my eyes, because I am grateful… to the universe, to my surgeons, to my ‘teachers’, my husband and to my friends.
Today, three years ago, I had surgery in Rome, to remove whatever had been causing my devastating pain. That was all I knew. Even the surgeons did not know what it would be. What they told me when I woke up from surgery would alter the way that I saw myself and the way that I saw my history.
It’s a rebirth and, like a birth, you have no choice in the matter when it happens and there is no going back! When you discover that your beliefs about yourself have been based on totally false perceptions you have to start again, you have to forgive, come to the present and live now.
Do you have a harsh inner critic?
I have always been a very driven person and a perfectionist, yet I could never drive myself hard enough to reach my goals. I had punished and pushed myself for years, for my whole adult life. I had suffered from increasing fatigue from the age of about 14. It was gradual, almost imperceptible. My family called me lazy, they had told me that my pain and fatigue was imaginary. I believed them. Only I knew that I was doing all that I could, my best. My best was just not good enough. So I pushed harder, and felt that my achievements were never good enough. My inner critic said the most cruel things and I believed it.
When I woke up from surgery on 11 April 2011, one of the things that my over-excited surgeons told me, was that the surgery was very complex, more than expected. They had not been optimistic, but that they were now delighted and proud. It had all gone better than they could have imagined and I was ‘all clear’ of the disease that had been ruining my life – a miracle. I felt such relief and even disbelief that it was all ‘over’. But, what blew my mind and changed my view of myself forever was they told me next.
A new start…
My surgeons said that the mass they had removed had been growing inside me for about twenty years, taking my energy and causing me pain. So, suddenly, I wasn’t lazy, I didn’t have an ‘overactive imagination’, I had been fighting a disease. There was more…
They told me that they could not believe that I had been able to sing, or even to laugh, considering the scale of the mass they found inside me and the pain it must have caused. Without thinking, I told them that I sang, because singing is what I am here for. I would no longer be me, if I did not sing.
Only as I recovered from my surgery did I truly understand the full physical implications of what they had told me…
Becoming humble, yet open to learning anew.
I felt great soon after my surgery, but many months on I realised that my body was struggling to support my singing voice without the presence of the mass. I had sung for my whole career around a pathology that was no longer there. I stopped singing for a few months in order to retrain and, with the help of physiotherapists, breathing specialists and meditation practice, retrained my pelvic and abdominal muscles. The years of muscle memory I had used to support my sound needed to be undone, and my core rebuilt. It took two years for my body to feel really stable and grounded again. This experience was one of the most humbling of my life.
Having any kind of pelvic disease is humbling in the extreme. For a start, as a woman, you are continually needing to discuss, and allow doctors to examine, your yoni. That may seem obvious, but having to tell your story again and again, and then be intimately examined and finally told that there is nothing that can be done, eats away at your soul. There’s also the issue of children, which is a biggie. Wanting and not being able to have children is humbling. Our society offers us the opportunity to feel great shame for not being able to have kids. That’s another topic for another day.
The most humbling thing of all, though, is being offered the opportunity to start again; to say, “what I believed it was, was not how it is”; to release the old, self-punishing beliefs, the things that I was ashamed of, and begin again, learning to appreciate my self and what I have to offer.
So, three years on, there are tears in my eyes, as I look at my journey, so far, and the gifts it has brought. What I went through, I would not wish on anyone, but what I have learnt, I would not give back: I am calmer, wiser and happier. I like myself more. I have regained my fitness, my enthusiasm and have more energy than I had in my teens.
I have become more of who I am, and less of who I should be.
What I learnt…
I know how precious a gift this physical body is, this ‘earth suit’ that I walk around in everyday. I marvel at it’s power to regenerate, heal and learn anew. I marvel at Nature and this Earth. I know how it is to suffer and feel there is no way out. I know how it is to finally trust an inner voice, defy the ‘experts’ and insist there is a way. I have been given an opportunity to make better choices, to be kinder to myself and to retrieve and welcome home parts of myself that I had lost through self-criticism and shame. I spent so many years struggling to appear strong, when I felt weak, and eventually hid myself away when I was too ill, and ashamed of my inability, to make everything appear ‘normal’.
I am no longer ashamed. I am proud that I have survived this and learnt from it. I am proud that I have more to offer, not despite of, but because of my journey.
Three years on, there are tears in my eyes, because I am grateful.
Over to you.
What are you grateful for? Has there been a moment in your life that has changed how you see yourself? I’d love to hear how you see the ‘positives’ in your journey so far, so leave a comment below, and share what you have learnt with me.
P.S. Pass it on!
Loved this post? Then please tweet it, share it on Facebook, using the buttons below, and send it to specific friends via email.
And leave me a message or give your email on this page to be first to hear about more articles like this.