It has been a year since I wrote anything on this blog, and I’d like to share with you where I have been.
My partner Holly went into the hospital last December and was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast and bone cancer. When she was admitted, she was within several days of dying from kidney and heart failure. She went to the ER in the morning, and that afternoon when I went to visit her, I had one of the most painful and profound experiences of my life.
Looking at her lying in the bed so close to death, grief and tears filling my heart, I simply said, “I’m not ready to lose you yet.” We looked at each other for a long time, and there was a moment when I knew that she was not going to die right away. My heart knew that Holly would stay for a while, at least, because there was more for us to do together.
So began 6 months of incredibly challenging cancer recovery and a spiritual/emotional journey for both of us that has tested us beyond anything I could have ever imagined. What we came to see and fully comprehend was that Holly had been carrying an unconscious death wish inside of her throughout her life that had become the cancer. The impact of that revelation on both of us was quite complicated: she had to journey deeply into a vulnerable humility that was unfamiliar to the part of her that had always been such a strong athlete and mountain woman, while I had to come to terms with the full aha moment that the part of Holly that had always confused me, the part of her that never fully let me into her heart all these years, had in fact always secretly wanted to die. It was a secret she had hidden well from both of us.
That day in the hospital, a part of Holly did die: her death wish. She told me later that when I said, “I’m not ready to lose you yet” that she felt something in her soul come into her heart and open to receive those words. From that moment, when she chose to stay, Holly has been on a journey of receiving love and support from so many wonderful people who have responded to her cancer experience. It is unlike anything she has ever known in her life before.
We have spent many hours processing how her death wish formed throughout her life while her body has recovered remarkably these last 6 months. It has been a journey of deep shock and grief for both of us as we leave behind our journey into the death zone last December, the experience that was necessary to become fully conscious of how deeply her hidden death wish had controlled our relationship and our lives.
Death wish like Holly’s is subtle because she has always been a fun-loving and powerful woman. It would lay low for months, then surface in waves of negativity and despair such as when her business wouldn’t develop the way she had hoped or a business project with a friend would unravel unexpectedly. As much as we loved and supported each other, it would push me away for periods of time on deeper levels, and isolate inside her work.
Over 17 years, we had done successful and thorough emotional work on many aspects of her life, resolving old griefs and restoring her boundaries to a healthy conscious level. Yet the death wish never let go, and kept quietly building under the surface until it finally released by going through the experience of truly almost dying.
The challenge of loving someone holding unconscious death wish, who nearly died as a result, and then opened her heart to receive love completely for the first time in her life has defined the last year of my life. Last summer at this time, Holly changed and needed a lot of support. A depression set in that was thick and deep, and we spent a lot of time together going through some places in her life that she hadn’t fully processed like her earlier marriage to someone who had used her and hurt her will to live deeply. For the first time though, nothing worked and through the fall she continued to really struggle inside. Now we see the deeper emotional and spiritual progression into nearly dying in December. It all makes sense now as Holly gets stronger and clearer each day having recovered her will to live. The journey into conscious self-love is now deeply rooted in Holly’s heart.
We still don’t know the outcome of her cancer recovery, but there is realistic hope that the treatment she is receiving, combined with a mastectomy, can release her cancer. At the same time though, we have healed in our hearts and souls from the profound journey into the death zone that took place in December. That is a very dark and heavy place, and death can look so seductive to someone whose will to live has been deeply damaged. But I was asked by Holly’s soul to stand firmly rooted in life and in love, to reach in and say no, this is not the way you need to go this time. You can receive love in this dark place in your soul.
It was without question the most difficult spiritual and emotional healing process I have been asked to facilitate in all of the 23 years I have been doing this work with people. Now, sitting on the front porch surrounded by flowers that Holly just planted this last week, I dedicate this blog post to the power of love to transform the deepest death wish and to bring Light into the places in our souls that gave up on ever receiving it again.