A quote attributed to voice actor, Billy West, states, “Life is for living. I was a little scared before surgery ‘cause of the release you sign that says there’s always a very small percent chance that you’ll die during the operation.” This quote pretty much sums up how I feel as I write this piece the morning before I have a fairly common neck surgery. I am a little scared, but I am going to trust. Trust my surgeon; trust that Divine Providence will guide his hands, eyes, and mind; trust the surgical team that will be in there with me; and be at ease knowing I am loved and supported by a community of family and friends.
As fate would have it, I was recently listening to a guided meditation designed to focus on my breathing in order to reduce anxiety. The meditation teacher ended the session by explaining that if you mix up the letters of TRUST, you can create the word, strut. Therefore, by trusting in the Divine, you can “strut” into the future in the confidence that you are held and beloved. Needless to say, I love word-play, so that idea grabbed my attention, leading me down a further path of thought . . .
It led me to reflect on a popular acronym for the word, FEAR: false evidence appearing real. The closer to the date of my surgery, the more real the fear has felt, which seems so silly to the logical part of my mind. Honestly, I think a large part of it has had to do with the overwhelming task of preparing to be out of commission for at least four weeks. This is due to the fact that I am not naturally organized, so to try to think through all the different details that needed to be addressed, especially with regards to my classroom as well as several other items, seemed daunting.
Another reason I think the feelings of fear increased was because well-intentioned friends and family members began asking, the week before my procedure, how I felt. Up until they started asking, I hadn’t really felt/thought too much about the procedure. I mean, after all, if you don’t think about it, it can’t hurt you, right?!?!
Seriously, I knew that those who asked were sincerely trying to connect with me, or let me know they cared and/or were interested in my well-being. For that, I am eternally grateful. Which led me to create my own word-play-acronym for FEAR: friendly embrace affecting (my) resistance.
For weeks, I had resisted thinking/dwelling upon the impending procedure. Heart-felt questions expressed by loved ones allowed me to face my resistance to the surgery, express my feelings (fairly) openly and honest, and offered me a metaphorical embrace of support, care, and/or love–which is often hard to accept when you are used to being the one who gives it to others.
In fact, this FEAR–friendly embrace affecting (my) resistance–has allowed me to see that if I am going to give to others, I have to humbly accept when others give to me, even if it feels uncomfortable. For example, I had a student stop me after class and ask me to not worry about them while I was gone. She offered me a note, along with a beautifully handwritten prayer from her Baháʼí faith.
“Let us pray for you now,” she said. I was moved to tears.
Our school and church priest stopped me to say that he would be praying for me. I didn’t even know he knew!
A parent filled a paper box to the brim with individually wrapped items for my post-surgery care, complete with four night shirts with buttons up the front, so as to avoid having to pull clothes over my neck incision. There were teas, chocolates, books, a coloring meditation book created by her son’s uncle, colored pencils, a massaging tool, cold/hot pack, and several other considerate touches that I would not have thought of. Plus, she showered me with messages of encouragement. This was yet another example of a friendly embrace affecting (my) resistance.
My daughter asked the university in which she is enrolled in a 12-month, fast-track graduate program, for permission to be absent for a couple days to help me out. John, my husband of nearly 34 years, took the entire week off work, something he would never do under normal circumstances. My parents have been praying, my siblings have been texting/sending funny memes, friends have been reaching out and sending both text and video messages. All friendly embraces affecting (my) resistance.
So about the fear . . . yes, it is present as I write these words. Yes, I feel it in my gut and in my slightly elevated heart rate. However, by the time you have read this, Dear Reader, I will have TRUST(ed) the Divine and the many guided, well-trained hands of the surgical room, and I will have STRUT(ed) into my recovery phase. It will not be an easy process, most likely; however, any kind of healing process is slow and full of challenges. Nonetheless, “I will FEAR no evil,” and I will continue to try my best to allow those friendly embraces to affect (my likely) resistance along the recovery route.