On the outside, I looked healthy.
I ate organic.
I had a successful career and all the hallmarks of a great suburban life.
Life inside was a different story.
It was a story of rejection and heartbreak.
Every relationship in my life was unhealthy.
I tolerated life as a punching bag.
I went against my inner voice and did things I disgusted.
While I had been living that way since childhood, becoming a mother pushed me over the edge.
For the first time in my life, I was pushed beyond my capacity.
In all regards, I was the sole caretaker of my daughter, whose constant needs beckoned me.
I was terrified that if I missed a single cry, she would turn out like me — lonely and empty inside.
To save her from this fate, I ignored every one of my needs to meet hers.
I would push myself to exhaustion with emotionless tears streaming down my face.
My only chance at a break was to work part-time.
Low on sleep and working from home, my job was not what it use to be.
What had formerly been a source of joy, became a draining chore.
I felt guilty when I was working. I was drained when I was home. My marriage was a complete wreck that I refused to see.
It was a perfect storm for the cancer to grow.
I was diagnosed a year after giving birth.
While my mind understood the situation, my heart shut its doors.
On my daughter’s first birthday, a wave of reality knocked into my chest.
I ran to the bathroom, and fell to the floor.
I touched my hair and cried.
Everything I had known — my beauty, my future, my health — was gone.
I felt like I was drowning in an ocean of dread.
When it seemed I would be lost forever, words came into my head.
“Let me make Christmas. Please let me make Christmas.”
They repeated with no end.
On a day I expected to be immersed in my daughter’s firsts — first birthday, first piece of cake, first present, I gripped tightly onto my first.
It was my first prayer.
The chance of seeing my daughter open presents one more time became a lifesaver of hope.
It brought me the courage I needed to go into treatment with my head down and fists clenched.
People say cancer changes you, and it does.
Unfortunately, it didn’t change the things in my life that caused the most dis-ease.
If anything, these were worse.
I was obsessed with “fixing” my marriage, guilty about missing a year of my daughter’s life, and angry that my family was hardly around.
However, being sick caused a radical shift.
If I was going to ensure my daughter would grow up with her mother, I needed to be healthy.
I needed to go beyond a “cancer free” label that was unlikely to stick.
I knew I needed something, but I had no idea what it was.
The only thing I was certain of was that no doctor could give it to me.
I needed to find it for myself. I devoted my life to the search.
I opened myself up beyond western traditions and science.
It was and continues to be a constant process of self-discovery and self-mastery.
In this process, my relationships have healed. I have cut toxic people out of my life. I have a beautiful marriage and a healthy balance.
When my needs aren’t met, I speak up. When I need a break, I take one. When my child cries and I am too tired, I say a prayer and give it to God.
I have experienced true healing.
It is what has allowed me to flourish so many years after I thought I may never see Christmas again.
Originally published at medium.com