If you’re here reading this, I likely don’t need to tell you what a rollercoaster cancer is. The emotions are intense and all over the damn place. The initial fear, shock, and disbelief eventually give way to confusion and different fears, likely some anger and resentment too. Being a caregiver or close to someone going through cancer is just as crazy. You get pulled along for the wild ride and we can add helplessness, sadness, and freaked out to that list as well. If we’re lucky, there are plenty of moments of positivity, hope, and faith as well; but the emotional barometer, it swings wildly.
We don’t want to feel negative or difficult emotions. Others don’t want us to feel them either. It is a natural instinct to immediately try and feel better, or at least different. Those around us will want to try and make us feel better too, providing suggestions and reassurances. These impulses and actions can be great, allowing you to turn a bad day into a good one, but sometimes they can be detrimental as well. Sometimes, we miss out when we try to move on too quickly, and it can be damn exhausting trying to be as positive as possible all the time. Letting yourself feel crappy may be just what you need.
Feelings like anxiety and fear and anger are like warning lights or alarms. They alert us to the fact that something is off and needs our attention. These emotions let us know that something is festering below the surface and that we need to address it or it will just keep getting worse. It could be that there is a conflict we have been trying to ignore that we need to deal with. There could be insecurities we need to work on that are generating anxiety. Often, we just feel down because we are in the midst of dealing with something huge and scary like cancer. More than likely, our emotions are letting us know that there is some reflecting that we need to do, either just for the sake of being alone with our thoughts and wading through them or to figure something out about the way we are feeling.
Whatever the root cause, it’s a guarantee that we will have low days in our lives, especially when facing cancer. And now I’m going to tell you something groundbreaking: IT’S OKAY TO FEEL THAT WAY. That’s right. You don’t need to try and feel better now. You don’t need to let anyone else make you feel better now. There is value in allowing yourself to simply be where you are and feel what you are feeling.
From a very practical standpoint, it can cause you a great amount of stress to try and force yourself out of the place where you find yourself currently. We can get down on ourselves for not being able to be more positive and for that mood affecting those around us. We might feel guilty that someone else feels bad about not being able to cheer us up. And these emotions can snowball into stress and anxiety, making us feel even worse. Giving yourself the permission to just be where you are can be quite liberating and even calming.
From a less concrete standpoint, we can discover so many things about ourselves by allowing those emotions to develop and change on their own and letting ourselves wander through them. We may find the root cause through reflection, allowing us to address and correct what is causing the negative emotion in the first place instead of just shoving it aside. We may discover something about ourselves or our lives by journaling about or otherwise looking at how we are feeling instead of trying to ignore it. At the very least, we will develop our ability to constructively work through our emotions instead of just slapping a bandaid over them. There is a lot to be gained from intentionally sitting with our feelings.
And from the simplest standpoint, we are human and are allowed to experience the full range of our emotions! It is fine to be angry. It is okay to feel scared. It is completely reasonable to be feeling blue or anxious and not able to put your finger on exactly why. So let yourself off the hook, and then throw the hook away. Value where you are at and let yourself be. You will find your way through it. You may discover something along the way, but if you don’t, that’s okay too. Just be.
Happy Healing ❤️