Authentic Union: Trauma and the Self by Caryn Antos O’Hara

Today marks the day I start chemo for the second time.

It’s also my niece’s first birthday.

Such a well-played juxtaposition, life. I’m grateful for the reminder that we must create freedom on the inside to experience fully what’s waiting for us on the outside. But how do we liberate ourselves when our experience could easily feel like entrapment?

Let’s get curious.

Firstly, we must ask ourselves if we are interested in personally healing and consequently bringing unity to humanity. If so, then we make a conscious commitment to fine tune our empath skills. We must deliver that message to our stubborn, hardwired brains deliberately and consistently. We must stick to it even when our minds try to pull us into old ways of thinking. Whether it’s believing some closed-minded religious entity we mistook for something spiritual back in the day or that inner child wanting to believe grandpa as he spouts out his own fear and delusion that his father and his father passed down to him.

When we truly believe that the pain within our experience- chosen by us to relive- results in dis-ease in the lives of loved ones, we begin our own personal excursion through freedom and unity, simultaneously. Freedom within self surfaces when we let go of the burden that is created when we carry pain that is ready to be processed and released. Unity with the whole experience means feeling the joy and the holy shits of life, so that we can truly honor everyone’s journey. This life is one that will touch us and support us tenfold if we are only willing to hold hands through the process.

Let’s be honest.

If divorce, death, and cancer diagnosis walked into a bar, let’s face it, typically no one would be tripping over themselves to hang out. They are alarming and they are inconvenient. They are isolating and uncomfortable. They are scary, and yet they are also enlightening. Well, potentially. And that’s where, if you are willing, what I like to call The Freedom Perspective (TFP) enters stage right.

Here’s some of my back story to illuminate a bit of what’s happened in my own life, how it opens the door to TFP, and why all of us can find this navigation in our unique but very similar incidents of fear. (This includes anger, betrayal and grief.)

At the start of this year I had a scan that came back with some questionable areas. I won’t get into all of the details, just a quick broad brushstroke on the canvas of this experience to let you know that since then I have had multiple scans, a biopsy, and now another scan to finalize which treatment plan I will take.

At times I questioned if multiple (second, third and fourth) opinions were too much. Given we received different advice from these sources, I traveled through four states to get inputs from four different well-respected institutions. Life is all about giving us hints about how we can move forward with more ease.

We need to listen. 

The reminder here?

Yes, life is urgent. But haste or trying to speed up the natural order of things isn’t the way either.

So that is the nutshell version of my preparation mode over the last six months to make a decision about treatment for my third recurrence. It has been perfect, thorough. And still, the thought of picking up the chemo pills and putting them in my mouth can be at best a connection with the greater energies of the world to grant me a heaping helping of high vibration and healing. At worst, the mere idea invites analysis paralysis.

The pills will hit my stomach before I finish writing this blog post. Today echoes the meaning of Alanis Morissette’s 1995 song, Jagged Little Pill, as I realize all of the internal wars I have initiated about whether I’m making the best decision for my situation or not. And yet I am past that place of not knowing and sit in the driver’s seat ready to move forward.

According to the American Cancer Society, “in 2016, there will be an estimated 1,685,210 new cancer cases”(1) in the United States alone. Perhaps for this reason, the sandpaper feeling of hearing about someone starting cancer treatment isn’t as abrasive as it used to be, albeit still harsh. So what does this mean?

Let’s cultivate awareness.

When we feel the pangs of our own pitfall, when we hear about someone else’s sadness, let’s get clear on what we need and the steps we can take to promote consciousness around it. Let’s not try to push our feelings to the side. Let’s recognize that right now, we can tap into the heartbeat of what keeps all of us alive. We can sit. And listen. We can make the choice to view our experience as shared, as one that has been grieved before us, with us, and after us.

The truth is, we aren’t as distinct as we might think. Yes, we look different. And we have different preferences and lifestyles. Yet if we live in a place of believing this part of our existence trumps everything else, we are also choosing to live very closed lives. We need to zoom out from our own experience.

Our lives depend on it.

We all feel pain. We all know what it’s like to yearn for belonging in this world. We all know that the sorrow of loss comes in many forms. Diagnosis. Death. The end of a marriage. Loss of a job. The ongoing hurt in all of us for having been mistreated at some place and time for simply being who we are.

So what do we say to those who violate the humanity code? What is our default when the lack of gun control measures horribly interrupts the natural order of things by allowing gun owners to kill an average of 90 Americans each day? (2)

The only constant is change. The only sameness is our differences. The only gifts are our challenges.

Our souls are strong, yet fragile. Our hearts can only endure so much. Let’s take steps today and everyday to honor.

Choose freedom.





Caryn Antos O'Hara
Caryn believes anything is possible. She has wisdom beyond her years and offers it to the world as a yoga instructor, health consultant, published writer, and public speaker. Caryn’s down-to-earth, multi-disciplinary teaching style provides room for you to hold space where you are.
You can practice LIVE online with Caryn at Gather here!


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