Have faith that your internal reservoir is deep enough to guide you through the dark night of the soul…

Being diagnosed with a life threatening illness or having a life threatening injury take the world as you know it and turns it completely on it’s head.  As they say… in a New York minute, everything can change.  The resulting shock can have you questioning so many things- is this real?  who am I? The world suddenly feels unsafe, our lives so vulnerable, and we face one of the universal fears- death.  It is an existential dilemma that puts us into a place of shock and confusion.  While this doesn’t last forever, it can certainly feel unending when you are in it.

I have been there, stumbling, fumbling through the darkness, on the brink of despair and fear that I can not take one more step.  Through the dysfunction of my childhood, the aftermath of my mother’s death, my own battle with cancer, and the places in between.  I was such a sensitive child, I cried at the end of every movie- whether the ending was happy or sad.  After my mom died, I kept reminding myself, you just need to breathe.

As I have processed my experiences, I came to the conclusion that two vital parts of my “self” connected me to the deep reservoir of perseverance and resilience.  My internal rebel, who was angry and defiant about something external trying to take me down; and my deep, sweet spiritual self that whispered “you can do it” while reminding me that at some point or another the suffering would be connected to purpose.  Even in the darkest moments, they were able to show me the light, and encouraged me to keep on the path.

As I have matured, I have become much more protective of this reservoir; knowing that I cannot be of service to others if I am not thoughtful and compassionate with myself.  And since I am deeply committed to serving others, I need to be deeply committed to myself.

So I invite you today to sit in a quiet spot, center yourself through breath and open up your art journal.  Can you create an image that represents your reservoir?  What color and shape does it wish to be?  Do you know what it’s surroundings look like?  How is it fed? Honoring yourself by spending time in contemplation may bring you deep reward, and inspiration for preserving one of your greatest assets- the internal reservoir.

– Stephanie McLeod-Estevez, LCPC, is an art therapist and breast cancer survivor. She began Creative Transformations to help others who are healing from a life threatening illness or injury. Creative Transformations offers individual sessions in person or via Skype, as well as workshops and this weekly blog. Please visit our website to learn more: www.creative-transformations.com.