A Worthy Trade

When I was really sick before I got the transplant last June, I wrote regularly about my experiences in a journal. For a year I wrote about what I went through. I thought that if I lived, I would turn it into a book.

Almost a year had gone by since I'd done anything with my writings. I kept putting it off. I had some aversion to going back in to what I wrote. Something didn't feel right.

A few days ago I got the urge to go through what I had written.

I got a little way into my journal and was overwhelmed. I was surprised at how much suffering I was going through back when I was sick. I felt like I was in the midst of the misery again.

I noticed that my lungs started to hurt. They felt like they were shrinking. It was harder to breathe.

Even though it was greatly uncomfortable, I thought I should still keep going through the book. I kept thinking it was important. I needed to get through it.

It was nighttime and suddenly the electricity went out in my house. I panicked.

Back when I was sick, I was breathing oxygen from an oxygen concentrator. The concentrator takes room air and passes it through the filtering system in the machine and converts it to more pure oxygen. It ran on electricity. One night the electricity went out, and the machine stopped working. I couldn't get the oxygen I needed. I tried yelling for help, but I could barely whisper and move. I thought I'd reached my end. Somehow my wife woke up and got an oxygen tank out of the closet for me and I was able to breathe okay again.

With the electricity going out the other night being mixed with the uncomfortable affects of reading my diary, I was reminded of the past in a bad way, and felt an intense panic in my lungs and chest. I felt like I was going to drown under the experience.

I got up and went for a walk outside.

Being outdoors and moving helped me get my clarity back. I realized writing in the journal had been a way for me to get some peace in the midst of the hurricane. It gave me some distance and relief from the terrible things that were happening.

But continuing to read the book would be 300 pages of me reliving the horror of what had happened and would only hurt me.

I'd learned this over the years from clients who came upon old journals they'd written in a ways back. Initially they felt compelled to keep the journals. I would have them read their journals to see how what they wrote made them feel present time. It usually brought them back to the chaos or sadness they felt when they wrote it. The writing helped them get through and make sense of those times, but time had passed and its support had expired. My clients decided to let go of their journals. They felt a great relief.

So I came back home and let go of my journal.

Right away I felt a tremendous peace. I thought, "I'm safe. I don't feel like I did back then. I'm healthy now. I'm free."

It felt good to be alive. I felt lucky to be able to breath, to stand up, to think clearly. I appreciated my aliveness. I felt the life force vibrating in me. I'm still feeling this a couple of days later.

It was a worthy trade.