Just before Christmas last year, I went to my gynaecologist for a routine medical checkup. I still don’t know what made me do that, especially since I had been to see him about half a year ago. Normally I don’t go to doctors for regular checkups unless I am feeling unwell. But I am glad I did. He discovered a huge growth and was surprised that I hadn’t had any symptoms of it. To be perfectly fair, I had been having pain in my side since a couple of months but I had put it down to a strained muscle, too much of jogging, planking or even stomach exercises. And since the degree of pain hadn’t been constant, I of course had ignored it (even trying to punctually work on it with the black roll!). A week later I was sitting in the specialist’s office and was told that I had two options: wait it out to see if the growth got bigger since other than a bit of physical discomfort I had no symptoms or to go in for a hysterectomy. The specialist advised me the latter since the growth didn’t ‘look good’ and there were a number of smaller growths around it. Plus it was obviously growing very quickly and could lead to complications and my having to go in for an emergency surgery in a few weeks or months. Just removing the growth was not an option for two reasons: firstly if it was malignant, the doctors would have to operate again to remove the uterus anyway. Secondly, there were so many other smaller growths around it that I would be constantly in surgery getting them removed. So the best and safest option was to do a hysterectomy to ensure that everything was removed and nothing was left that could turn into a potential risk.
To say that I was shocked would be an understatement. It took me some time to digest it all and I knew that the wisest and best option was to schedule a date for the surgery. The specialist is not only very professional and competent but he is also a very nice person and knew within minutes the kind of “patient” he had before him 🙂 He set out to give me all the information I needed and also explained in detail the methods he would use to ensure that I would be back as quickly as possible on my feet. He is not only the head of the gynaecology department since 2001 but he also heads the Gynaecological Cancer Centre in one of the well known clinics here in Munich and he operates using the most modern and non-invasive techniques.
Coming to terms with the fact of the surgery has been one part but what has been especially painful and hard to digest was what I also heard – from my gynaecologist (to whom I have been going to for over 10 years), my GP (to whom I went to for blood tests and mentioned the upcoming surgery and who also knows me for over 10 years) and the specialist. Since ovarian or breast cancer and cancerous growths is not hereditary in my family, it is very obvious to them that this is the result of deep emotional hurt and pain coupled with physical exhaustion. Studies have proven that many women who don’t have a family history of cancer, suffer from this disease due to emotional and psychological pain.
I have mentioned in earlier posts that the last years have been tough and especially the period since mid 2016. In June 2016, I had a major shoulder surgery and the road to recovery was a very difficult one – both emotionally and physically. I was in an emotionally very difficult and challenging situation, something that I would not wish anyone to be in especially when they are recovering from such a major surgery. And then about three weeks after this operation, my father passed away suddenly. The “hell that broke loose” after that is something that I cannot describe in words here. I could not fly down to be with my mother and brother (who had flown down for the funeral), the only emotional support that I had was via phone/whatsapp etc. In this very difficult time I reached out to two people who had been very close to me, people who had known about the emotional struggle that I was going through already because of the surgery. One of them supported me initially, the other chose to believe otherwise. I will not go into details here about the nightmare that followed but one of the “highlights” was: I was told on the eve of my father’s funeral that I must have done or said something mean to a person who was treating me very badly at that time to get such treatment from them because the person in question was such a “nice and kind person”. As I have learnt in therapy, the worst thing that can happen to a person who is facing abusive behaviour is to be told that in some way they are responsible for it because the abuser is such a nice person otherwise. In the mental and physically exhausted state that I was in, I even believed that I was to blame for the fact that people I had supported and carried through all their trials had the right to be mean to me and leave me alone in one of the biggest emotional and physical crises that I had.The months that followed were a horror. I was trying to get back on my feet physically as soon as possible; doing way too much before I had properly healed; struggling practically alone with the emotional pain; trying to get a job to become financially independent again and all the time aware that the very people I had supported and defended for a very long time were painting a picture of me that I didn’t recognise! I was depicted as a controlling, jealous, dominant, abusive and mean person. And I was all alone dealing with all the emotional trauma. It went to the extent that one of these persons was constantly praised by the other two on Facebook, my Facebook posts were commented on negatively or with sarcasm. This was noticed by some of my friends in Stockholm who happened to have met or who knew all the three people concerned. Since I had not been able to travel physically, there was no way that I could go to Stockholm and seek shelter with friends there. Plus I needed physiotherapy to get back on my feet and I had that option in Munich. And I never dared to reach out to any of my friends in Stockholm for help because I was convinced that they would also not believe me.
It took a long time for me to slowly heal and get back on my feet. I was left alone in all this and one of the few people who knew a bit about what I was going through was my mother. She was however dealing herself with my fathers loss and I did not want to burden her with the entire story of the hell I was going through. But God is merciful and makes ways where there are none. He literally carried me through the darkest and stormiest periods. And I had Jaden who lifted my spirits and comforted me.
I eventually picked up the courage to get professional help which helped me tremendously. I learnt that nothing someone has done justifies them being abused in any way especially when they are weak, sick or hurting themselves. I learnt that true friends know who you are and do not believe the lies that are told about you without asking you for your side of the story. I learnt that when someone approaches you and tells you that they are being emotionally mistreated, you do not look away and justify it by saying that you are “caught in the middle”. There is no such thing as remaining neutral when you see someone being mistreated, when you do so you are in silent consent with the person mistreating another.
As I slowly started gathering strength to fight back and confront the persons talking about me, I realised I was way too late. The rumours about me had been spread; people had turned things around to make themselves out to be the ones misunderstood and to be the “victim”; so many lies had been told that there was no space for the truth; things that were told in confidence had been gossiped about and told to others and no one believed or wanted to believe me.
But God never left me and I watched slowly how He started to reveal things, bring light into dark corners and expose people. It is interesting how when you confront someone with what they have done, they turn around and attack you, let loose mean and angry words that are meant to hurt deeply. These are people who are very nice when things are going well and no one would believe they are capable of such things if one didn’t have the “evidence” in writing. These are people who shout at you in their anger, are sarcastic and mean; delete mean comments written on Facebook before they are caught at it and replace them with very christian sounding sentences.
Out of the blue God provided me with a job. I had been looking for one for quite some time, been told that I should “come down from my high demands and remember that I had been away from the working world for over four years”. And then I was approached by Amazon and they agreed to all my “high demands” and made me an offer that was way better than what I had had when I left the working world four years before.
The road to healing continued. God made ways in the desert and sent me people who helped me heal. They helped me put up healthy boundaries and to deal with the pain of betrayal. I also had to face the fact that the people I had most invested in – with time, emotionally, physically and financially were the people who forgot about it all, gossiped about me behind my back and did not support me.
One of the surreal experiences that I had last year when my mother was visiting us, was a very long telephone conversation on a late Friday evening after a hectic and crazy working week. The person had called to ask me about something that had hurt me and instead spent over an hour half shouting into the phone accusing me of saying something I never had; telling me that I had no idea about the difficulties that they themselves were going through; did not even listen to what I was saying, keep interrupting me and not letting me talk; defended the person who had hurt me without even having bothered to read what had been written; ended it all by trying to tell me that in the end family was what was important; being older gave someone the right to be respected and that they would pray about it all and then decide whether I should be defended. This from someone I had not only defended and stood by when their entire family was against them, but this was someone I had been there for emotionally every time they were a nervous wreck-calling them even when I was vacationing abroad just to be there for them. I had supported them when everyone else who knew them told me they were lying but I chose to stand by them.
This phone call was an eye opener for me – it showed me that people took advantage of my being “over-sensitive” when it fit them, when they needed my support and that they always expected me to be there for them but never the other way around. I was really glad that I had two people sitting around me listening to my side of the conversation, who were equally baffled and shocked by the behaviour of this person and what they said. Otherwise I might have doubted my own sanity.
It took me a long time to get back on my feet from all the hurt. God continued healing me, exposing the lies and showing me that I did not need people in my life who believed the stories told about me or who preferred to remain “neutral” and not call out those doing wrong, or people who let down those who had stood by them in their darkest hours because they wanted to “belong to family”.
I thought that the “worst” was behind me and that I was finally on the road to healing from the severe emotional and physical trauma when I got the news from my Gynaecologist before Christmas. In hindsight it is no surprise for me that the deep emotional pain that I suffered, and that practically no one saw, had its toll on my body.
I have mentioned earlier about the wonderful and healing time that I had in Stockholm over Christmas and New Year . God showed me that there are people who know me for who I am, who do not believe when someone tells them that I am a jealous, controlling, mean person. And these are friends who see me for the person I am, not for the person I show myself to be when everything is going my way.
The reason that I am sharing my story is in the hope that those reading this will think twice before they gossip about someone. Gossiping; spreading rumours; painting oneself as the victim to take away attention from the fact that one has encouraged and supported the abuse or mistreatment of someone who was weak; reacting in anger and being mean when confronted with something that one has done wrong; being sarcastic or calling someone “oversensitive” when you have hurt them; to stop speaking with someone instead of apologising for ones behaviour…..such things are a sign of bullying and abusive behaviour. And such behaviour hurts the person targeted – to the extent that they can become physically sick. My hope in sharing my story is that we will all think twice before we selfishly live our lives at the emotional and physical cost of others; that we do not twist things around to show ourselves to be the victims where we have been perpetrators; that we apologise when we have hurt those we claim to love and they tell us that they have been hurt; that we do not reply in anger, sarcasm or unbridled rage when we “feel attacked” but are simply told that we have done something wrong.
I will be operated upon on Tuesday, January 30 and will undergo a total hysterectomy. I have to accept that I “brought it upon myself”, that this is the result of the deep emotional pain and loneliness that I went through the past year and a half. I still struggle that the people who caused me such deep hurt and pain will never see that they are in any way “responsible” for this, that they may even turn it around to attack me again, that they will shrug it away and move on in life justifying their behaviour or even holding me responsible for making them behave the way they did!
I know that I need to change a number of things in my life and I have started distancing myself from these relationships that have become toxic for me. But I also have a choice – not to let these experiences harden me or to say that I have “learnt a lesson”. If I would say that, I would let the negative experiences win, become hardened and I would never help or stand by anyone again.
I choose to walk away from those who choose to believe the lies told about me; I choose not to spend time and energy on those who use me when it suits them and don’t stand up for me; and I choose to continue to be the empathetic, emotional person I am because that is a quality that God has laid in me and wants to use for His good. And I know that God will defend me and in His time bring more to light and expose the lies and gossip that have hurt me so deeply.
I just spent two amazing days at a Women’s Leadership Program in Regensburg where I got incredible feedback. I have never wanted to be liked or to be known as someone nice, I want to be someone who makes a difference. I was told by numerous leaders I had never met before that my “leadership brand” (i.e. what comes to mind when people think of me) was that I was authentic; transparent about my weakness and failures; someone to trust; someone who has the courage and backbone to stand up for what is right even if I am the only one standing up; someone who encourages, motivates and inspires. I was dumbstruck and am still overwhelmed because I know it is only because God shines thorough all that is broken and useless in me. The experience of these two days has strengthened me tremendously and also been balm on some wounds that are still hurting.
I am trusting God to carry me on this challenging road ahead. I met the surgeon for about 30-40 minutes and it appears I have left a lasting impression on him (just as he has on me). His prognosis for my recovery are very good; with my “mental attitude” and my otherwise fit body, he expects me to be back on my feet very quickly. I am praying and hoping that all goes well because I want to be healthy soon again. There is so much that I have to look forward to – the amazing road that God is taking me on; the plans He has for me; the ways in which He will use what I have gone through to help others; wonderful and loving friends; great colleagues and a wonderful team; new professional challenges; doing sports again; traveling; running and playing with my adorable puppy …..and so much more!!!