"He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how"
My healing process from cancer took 9 months. In this period I have changed dramatically, physically as well as mentally. But while the physical change was structured, visible and very expectable ('you receive chemo ; your hair falls out'), the mental change was and still is unexpected. To my great surprise, I found out that coping with physical symptoms was relatively easy for me. I got used to not having hair, to the metallic taste in my mouth, to the sore muscles, to the scars and even to the absence of body parts. I got used to it because I understood that this was the price I would have to pay in order to reach my goal; my ultimate goal; to be healthy.
The mental change, however, was a completely different story. No one could have prepared me for the emotional sensations which have been flooding me since I was first diagnosed. A roller coaster of feelings, fears, thoughts, inner questions and great helplessness. A gigantic wave that rises high, sinks low, and so on and so forth.
I almost immediately sensed that this would probably be the hardest process I will ever have to go through in the frame of a comprehensive healing process ; finding my emotional balance point.
Initially, I was uncertain that finding an emotional balance point is a worthy target at all. What confused me was the supreme feeling of happiness that I felt in the same moments in which my emotional wave was at its peak. This happened when I traveled to India, when I participated in an intensive workshop which helped me to expose my heart, when I made new friends, when I received good results from medical tests, when I had precious moments with my kids. At those moments I was as happy as I could ever be. Extreme happiness with no worries. That is what characterizes the peak ; an overwhelming sensation of great bravery and capability, in a sense ; there is not a thing that I can not do.
However, soon enough I started to notice a pattern in my emotional behavior. The pattern taught me that prior to the point of great happiness and right afterwards there were two points of depression and moodiness. As if being happy can not be achieved without being miserable just before and right after. And then it hit me ; if I continue to look at my happiness as peaks in my life, I will be dooming my life to depression and misery as well. There will not be one without the other. Misery will be the trigger to the happiness but it will also, eventually, be the unavoidable result of happiness.
It was very clear to me why I felt so happy after feeling scared or sad. Luckily I was blessed with a strong will to be happy. Therefore, whenever I felt depressed (and cancer sure provides opportunities for that) an inner urge stimulated me to do something that would make me feel good and be happy. On a theoretical level, I believe that all human beings have a desire for living and living well. Some allow this desire to determine their life path while others hardly pay any attention to it. But it still exists. It is one of the components of our core.
Further self investigation of my behavior revealed the reason for the sadness that followed a peak of happiness. I discovered that the same events that caused my happiness in the first place were also the reason for my sadness as they faded away. No event had the ability to provide me with a long lasting happiness. It was a scary insight. Firstly, because I wanted my happiness to last. I was, and still am, of the opinion that I deserve to be happy at all times. Secondly, as a cancer survivor I have learned that it is not recommended (understatement) to sink into depression. Depression is like a slippery slope. You sink easily into it but need enormous powers to climb out of it.
I found myself struggling with many questions; how do I find my emotional balance point? The point at which I will be happy with no peaks and valleys. How do I change my emotional pattern from wave shape to a straight line? Is there anything in this universe that can make me be constantly happy? Where do I start this quest?
While thinking of those questions I suddenly started to think of my late grandfather. His life was tough and harsh. At the age of 24 he lost his entire family in the holocaust. After surviving that, he married my grandmother, immigrated to Israel and in an act of cruel fate watched his 3 year old daughter being run over and killed by a bus which deviated from its course. In spite of those events or maybe because of them my grandfather was a happy and loving person. He reached the age of 83 before cancer defeated him.
Something in my grandfather was stronger than his entire life events. His core was full with life energy no matter what. He did not let these unfortunate events rule his life but rather chose to live a life full of joy and happiness.
At that point I realized that in order to be more balanced I need to reconnect with my life energies, with my core, with my inner happiness. Not to be dependent on external elements but to use wisely my internal resources. I need to start doing things that are meaningful to me as well as to give new significance to the things I already do. I felt that happiness should not be the goal but rather a side affect. It will happen when I least look for it if my path will be meaningful.
"But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?" Albert Camus