My eyes widened. My tone sharpened. I asked, "Are you telling me that I got breast cancer because I had negative feelings about my body?"
"Well, I am not talking about blame here. But many people who grow up hearing negative things or thinking negatively about a particular body part, end up, years later, getting cancer in exactly that part of their body."
Excuse me? What young woman doesn't grow up thinking at least somewhat negatively about her body, especially one who goes through puberty as young as I did? And yeah, I did hear lots of negative comments about my body when I was young. And yes, I have hated both my breasts and my belly at times.
But I repeat, what woman doesn't feel at least some ambivalence about her body?
He kept saying that he got this idea from Bernie Siegel, in Love Medicine and Miracles. I haven't read that book but I did read another by him (Peace, Love and Healing) and I suspect that his words were distorted by this so-called therapist.
The whole session with this man was appalling. He rambled, said a number of inappropriate and irrelevant things (about himself and other clients) and seemed to have little inclination to listen to what I was saying (and I ended up saying very little).
And he was extremely irritated when I ended the session early (I stayed for an hour but really, I was ready to bolt after the first five minutes).
I left feeling more than a little shaken and relieved that I had not gone to see this fraud when I was actually feeling vulnerable (like say, right after I had learned of the metastasis and not right after getting good news, when I feel healthy and strong).
The next day, I came upon this poem by Jacqueline over at Rebel 1 in 8 (I am reproducing it here because I really need you all to read it but please do go to her blog and also, here to buy here beautiful jewelry and check out her clothing designs):
One of the beautiful things about poetry is that interpretation can always be left up to the reader.
what it's not. and the gratitude of my flesh.
of your shame
of your fear
of your arrogance
for your struggles
for your truths
it's not fabric to be stitched
clay to be formed
marble to be carved
a book to be read
a song to be sung
a cheer to be shouted
a code to be broken
a mystery to be solved
a key for a lock
it is simply flesh.
and it is grateful.
for the things
But what Jacqueline wrote spoke directly to me.
I realized that everything that therapist said was really about him, not me. His own fears, his own insecurities. And his own ego.
And I have taken Jacqueline's words to heart. I will continue to strive to be as comfortable as I can in this skin of mine. I will think of myself as healthy, strong and beautiful.
And I will forgive myself when I don't.