A Re-Movable Feast: Part Two (As seen in More magazine)

February 16, 2010

Originally published in More Magazine

Some time in the year 2000 I became aware that my womb was weeping with increasing frequency and I was losing power. I took myself to a woman’s clinic and submitted to the prerequisite examination and tests.

“I’m afraid that you have endometrial carcinoma,” revealed my sympathetic gynecologist. “Happily it is early enough to respond well to surgery. A hysterectomy and removal of the ovaries could give you another twenty years of life.”

My first reaction was, “I can’t afford this.” I was self-employed, uninsured, and had practically no savings. I was still living like a gypsy, week-to-week, with no thought beyond the present.

My second thought was; “My dreaming!” (Lucid or controlled dreaming). The shamans of Ancient Mexico, with whom I had studied taught that a woman dreams with her uterus. I was upset enough to try to explain to the bewildered doctor about the dreaming. There was no way I was going to undergo surgery. The poor doctor was genuinely upset. She kept explaining about the benefit of twenty more years of life, and I kept explaining that that was not a priority. I had a sneaky thought that this could be a reprieve, a relatively easy “out” from the world. I left without giving her satisfaction.

I had not taken into consideration the reaction of my children. My sons especially were terrified. My daughters, more spiritually oriented, were prepared to respect my wishes, but they were not happy. I started receiving calls from friends in the dance world, from Paris and Spain as well as right there at home in Los Angeles. Everyone was urging me to have the surgery.

I realized that ever since I could remember, all my decisions had been made with regard to my spiritual life. I had never honored the feelings of my children or friends; not even taken them into consideration. I understood at last what my mentor, Carlos Castaneda, had meant when, toward the end of his life, he said that only bonds of affection held him back, denying him total freedom.

I knew I could not hope to beat this condition without medical intervention, as healing myself would require one hundred percent of my energy, and a large part my energy was invested in service. There was no point in my remaining here if I abandoned my task of healer. So I made my decision. I would have the surgery, but I would also research the spiritual and psychological reasons for my condition and proceed with all the alternative practices I would have turned to without the surgery.

“What am I supposed to learn from this?” Once I asked that question, I was actually stimulated and involved.

In the end, the most important lesson I had to learn was that I had to decide whether I wanted to leave this earth-plane, or remain a while, turn around and face the world.
I understood, with a sinking feeling, that for thirty some years I had never fully faced the world. I lived each day longing for night, waiting to leave the world and explore anything, anywhere, as long as it was out there. I feared my fellow man far more than I feared alien energies. I had more enthusiasm for the paranormal than I had ever felt for the normal. I had preferred solitude to companionship, found the wanderings of my imagination preferable to conversation. My inner life was rich, but my outer life was sorely wanting. One of the roots of my condition was what they called “the businesswoman’s disease”—the malaise of the woman who has no life. I ignored the magic of the here and now and sought it in the far beyond.

When my doctor, on looking at my medical history, then examining my torso, exclaimed in disbelief—”But Joan, your body has reconstructed breast tissue!”—I realized I had pretty much ignored what was to all intents and purposes, a miracle.

For years I had gone braless. Then slowly I noticed I needed a bra. At first I just thought I was getting fat, but reluctantly came to the conclusion that after all, my body had mysteriously created tissue where there was none. This was not supposed to be possible. I did not give it much thought. Most of all, I had never wished for it. Growing new breasts was never a priority as I had not really mourned the loss of my breasts; I had felt like an Amazon. I had just felt good about my liberated torso when the painful implants were removed.

Now I did not mourn the loss of my uterus. I had removed all the organs that contributed to any possible woman’s weakness; I felt more of a warrior than ever!

The surgery took four hours instead of the expected two. I had so much scar tissue in my pelvis from old dance injuries that my poor surgeon had to make her way through a web of ancient history. Two days later I returned to my eldest son’s home to recover, and immediately put the entire event behind me. I have always had the ability to heal myself rapidly.

Once again, I was back to square one, having to re-educate my body from scratch in order to regain a full range of movement and freedom from trauma-induced compensatory patterns.

This is what it is all about; retaining the Beginner’s Mind. Being willing to start again, even at the age of seventy. Never give up!

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