To leave it behind…

This is the confident me. The numbing fear in my entire body might not be visible in this picture. The ropes course at Healing Odyssey retreat was more difficult and life changing than I had expected. I mentioned in my previous post how I wasn’t sure why I went to the retreat, I just knew I needed to go. After the first night, I thought, “Well, maybe I’m supposed to be here as support or encouragement for someone else.” (Because I couldn’t possibly need healing, right? Ha ha) I was telling my friends and family about the retreat and they all asked, “So, you didn’t know anybody? WHY did you go?!”

Partially, I believe I was supposed to meet these ladies from cabin 8. All are strong and powerful. Each with a unique cancer story and a unique life story… yet we all shared a common chapter to our stories: CANCER. It’s something that’s difficult to explain, yet if you’ve had/have cancer… you “get” it. You “get” the scanxiety felt with each scan and test and doctor appointment. You “get” the fear, the anger/frustration, the strength needed, the way it changes your life and the way people look at you. The list goes on and on. I didn’t know how powerful it would be to surround myself with over 30 other cancer survivors. I didn’t know I would cry in front of complete strangers. I didn’t know I would leave with a bunch of new friends… many of whom I won’t see in person again.

The other reason I went was revealed at the ropes course. I was 8th in line. I had a chance to see others go before me… each getting to a different point on the course. I had a chance to plan my goal. There were 4 ropes to reach towards to get to the end. My goal was to get to 3 … for my 3 guys. I tried to psych myself up for this. As I got hooked up and ready to climb, I had to stand at the bottom of the ladder and tell everyone what I was leaving behind. My hand started to shake and my voice quivered as I told the story about my journey of enough. I was leaving the idea that I’m not enough behind. I was leaving behind the “can’ts. Leaving behind doubts and fears & moving towards new adventures and a renewed sense of self. Once I dried my eyes, I started the climb up the ladder and then up the pegs.

Once I got to the top, I had to stand on a wire and reach for a rope. Easy, right? Nope. Not at all. This was my first ropes course. First time being 30 feet in the air, standing on a wire, attached to a harness and rope. I could hear the cheers and encouragement from below. I listened for the voices of those who had gone before me, telling me what to do next. As my legs trembled and the adrenaline rushed, I grabbed for the first rope. “I’m good, I’m done.”

I leaned back and descended back to earth. I was greeted with hugs and cheers and more tears.

It literally took hours for the adrenaline to leave and for me to calm back down again. It was intense, it was exhilarating & it was life changing. You may be thinking, “But you only got to the first rope. You wanted to get to 3.” Yes. That’s true. What I realized after it was over, was that the 1 rope I got to was for ME… not for my husband, my boys, my parents or my sisters… it was for me. You cannot pour from an empty cup. 1 was all I needed to believe I can. I left the can’ts behind.

After the ropes course, we went on a zipline. This was another thing I said I would never do – but after the morning, it seemed like a breeze! I didn’t have to balance, I just had to let go and enjoy the ride. What a feeling! The Mountain views were breath taking. The feeling of accomplishment was amazing.

So, why did I fly all the way to California, drive myself up a mountain, stay with 30+ strangers, go to sessions, hike in the mountains, do a ropes course, zipline and tell my story? To leave it behind… leave the doubt, the fears, the worry, the comparison, the feeling of being “not enough.” Am I completely free of these things? Maybe not. But nobody told me it was just stage 1. Nobody said it was just breast cancer. To everyone there, I was enough... and that feeling will carry me up many mountains in life. I will always remember the ladies I met at camp and the feeling of conquering those fears.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you have friends cheering you on from the sidelines. May you have voices to listen to of those who have gone before you. May you be a listening ear or a comforting shoulder to someone else. We are all in this together & you are enough.

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