Thursday, September 5, 2013


To call me anal retentive is truly like calling the pope Catholic.

I was reared in an extremely orderly and tidy home environment. Cleanliness was not only a virtue, it was a law. It is not uncommon for people that are brought up in such strictures to become the exact opposite when they are finally free to do so. That was not and is not the case with me. I long ago let go of the self judgment relative to my desire for cleanliness and order. Though I am still frequently criticized for it, it has served me in ways that I am truly grateful for. I create a pleasing and inviting home for myself, my husband, and those who visit us. I pay attention to my personal appearance and consciously cultivate my sense of the esthetic. My sometimes rampant creativity is balanced by my need for order and what I perceive as rightness.

It took me a long time and a lot of internal work to realize that my need for external order would not serve me in terms of my emotional landscape. I exhausted myself in trying to apply the same standards to my withinness that I so capably used for my external environment. The admonition “as within so without” became a living reality that first had to be examined and then appropriately reversed. The programming of my upbringing became stunningly clear; if the homestead needed to be orderly and tidy the emotional landscape had to be immaculate and at all times controllable. This led to years of suppression and active addiction. The woundedness kept calling for attention while I continued fighting to keep it all under control. I tried to look good at any cost. It was like cleaning house by throwing everything into a closet and then slamming the door. I stuffed my internal closet so full that when one a day a tiny crack was opened, years of unintegrated feeling come gushing out. It was time to finally face what I so feared to face.

There is nothing tidy about emotional healing.

There is nothing orderly about spiritual awakening.

Trying to look perfect, stable, and oh-so spiritual on the outside does nothing to authenticate the internal experience of being fully human.

We are not meant to be tidy, orderly, and in control. We are meant to be whole. Painting yourself with pretty pink paint does nothing to answer and integrate the stifled cries of your hurting heart. The blessing isn’t in the suppression. It’s in the mess. It’s deep in the closet that you have been consistently slamming the door shut on. It’s in the center of the feelings you have tried so hard not to feel. It’s beneath the persona that only thinly veils what is going on underneath. It is so often only we who are fooled.

Cancer has come screaming out of the closet and there is nothing I can do to control it. No matter how much I scrub the floors and polish the mirrors I still have cancer. No matter how many well meaning people throw pink paint upon me the diagnosis is still there. There is nothing orderly or tidy about cancer. And there is nothing tidy or orderly about the way I am moving through it.

And so messiness is the order of the day. I am vigilant about what is arising and moving within me, and I am releasing the need to categorize or to make sense out of it. I am committed to staying present with every aspect of this adventure. I am rejecting none of it. I am giving myself space from those that just can’t bare the messiness of my present condition. I am holding to the Truth that is larger than my diagnosis, and I am also allowing the Source of that Truth to contain both the relative and the absolute of this situation. It is within the both/and that more of me will be revealed.

I am not going to miss one iota of the blessing that I know is contained within this experience. I know the blessing is not to be found in denial or suppression. It isn’t for me only a matter of making this medically go away. My blessing is deep within the messiness of this experience, and I am wading in and feeling about within it. It is from the depth of the fear, the uncertainty, the emotional chaos, and the internal messiness that I know an enormous blessing is being born. And so for once I am letting the disorder simply be. No denial. No suppression. No pink paint. No dissociative truisms. Just the wholeness of letting myself be fully and freely and sometimes messily me.