Dear Nobody,

I tried to climb out of my own skin but it didn’t work. I sat and I asked for death to come and take me but it stubbornly refused to play ball. So, since I’m stuck here, I have to ask this – where is all of the hurt supposed to go?

I’ve told many a client how connected our emotions and physiology are – look at how you cry when you’re in pain, how you feel sick when you’re anxious, how your heart beats when you’re afraid. Our bodies are designed to flood with the stress hormone cortisol when we feel under attack, enabling the fight or flight response which has ensured the continuation of our species for thousands of years. But cortisol brings with it a host of side effects that, when experienced for prolonged periods, do you no favours in the end.

Increased blood sugar, digestive issues, weight gain, suppressed immune system, heart disease – all potential issues for a body that is constantly pumping out cortisol in response to the stressful events in life.

When my cancer returned for a second time, my mother was angry.

Not with life, the universe, fate or shitty bad luck; no, my mother was livid with me.

The second diagnosis came in the aftermath of a period of almost intolerable emotional distress after my husband had left me. In my mother’s mind, the self-indulgent grief I’d allowed myself to wallow in was the direct cause of my life-threatening illness, and boy was she furious about it… but since my family of origin will do anything and everything to avoid emotions, which includes talking about them, I had no idea.

Oh, she may not express it directly, but my mother will find myriad inventive ways to let you know when you’ve angered her. I actually believe that having to forensically examine every recent interaction and event to uncover where the infraction was made, is all part of the punishment.

It wasn’t until years later that she finally addressed it, with a throwaway comment along the lines of ‘oh yes, I remember being furious because all your anger and misery brought the cancer back.’

It made me think of the years of frustration, loneliness, sadness, self-hatred and hidden rage I’ve carried inside for as long as I’ve been aware of being alive. The complex soup of traumatic shame at an ever rolling boil, that comes from a lifetime as the family scapegoat. By mother-logic, is that what caused the cancer in the first place?

If keeping it all inside can cause a toxicity so strong that the body tries to kill itself, then we need to let it out – I understand this, of course.

But my question is, where? Where can the festering pus from my emotional wounds go? Because this human abscess is ready to blow.


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