Tapping Into The Present
A Love Story
Joanne Harvey, MSW, ADV-EFT, CPERP
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As a meridian tapping practitioner and a hospice social worker, I work with terminally ill patients and their families. I have clients that are not able to focus on the present and obsess on the what if’s, the anger of why me, and the fear of what is going to happen in the future, and all the chores that have to be done before the end. In short many are robbing themselves of appreciating the present and all the abundant gifts that are available right now. Meridian tapping techniques, as you will see from this story moved a brave couple so fast into the present that it really doesn’t matter how long they have together, the time they have will be full of meaning and love.
Max and Sara are a fun-loving middle aged couple. Both newly retired with exciting plans to travel the United States in their brand new RV. Sara is a seven year breast cancer survivor. She was confident her cancer had been eliminated. She took excellent care of her body, ate the right things and got regular checkups.
Sara was joyfully in charge of planning what they would pack in the RV. Max helped, and with their arms full of food, linens and clothing, they eagerly packed for their adventure. While climbing up and down the stairs, Sara noticed that her back and ribs were aching. She realized she was getting tired to the point of exhaustion after just a few hours preparing for their trip. She though it must be arthritis but didn’t want any complications during the trip so she made an appointment with her doctor.
Sara went alone, sure that her doctor would just write a new prescription and she would be on her way. When the doctor probed deeper about her pain and exhaustion she realized she might have misjudged her symptoms.
The doctor ordered tests. A week went by quickly, and the couple finished their trip preparations. When the doctor’s office called they requested that Sara and Max make an appointment to discuss the results. Sara really didn’t want to know what the doctor had to say. By this time, in her heart, she already knew the news was not good. But with Max at her side they heard the news together. The tests were conclusive. Sara had a different type of breast cancer. This time she also had tumors on her ribs and spine. The doctor talked about many different treatments but none, he said, would really increase her life. The treatment could very well impact the quality of what life she had left.
To be sure she requested a second opinion and Sara went off to see the oncologist she used for her first cancer, seven years ago. The oncologist didn’t sugar coat it. Sara’s prognosis was poor. Sara faced a tough decision. Did she want to receive chemotherapy? This treatment might increase the length of her life but could possibly reduce her quality of life. The oncologist could not guarantee a positive outcome even if she did complete all the treatments.
Max and Sara decided to wait to answer this question. The oncologist encouraged Sara to make up her mind quickly. But Sara had learned from her last bout with cancer that what he was asking could very well impact the rest of her life. Their future was riding on this decision. Sara and Max wanted to talk to the family before giving the oncologist a decision.
Max and Sara called their four adult children to come to their home for a family meeting. The kids and their spouses arrived and were told the news of Sara’s cancer and its grim prognosis. The treatment was discussed, the side effects, and the probable foreseeable conclusion, even with treatment.
All of them argued for their mother to be treated at all costs. They wanted their mother to prove the doctor wrong. The kids saw no reason not to fight for her life. They argued that she had many reasons to live and one was to see her grandchildren grow up. Each family member was given an opportunity to be heard.
Then Sara got a chance to speak. Sara didn’t want to die, she had a wonderful family and a wonderful future planned, but the cancer had changed her life focus. She wanted to live the rest of her life loving Max and the rest of her family without being sick. She didn’t want to give up the time she had left to doctor’s appointments, treatments and side effects. Sara told the family she would choose quality of life on her own terms, without intervention. She asked each of her children to help honor her wishes.
Sara’s daughters understood immediately and agreed to do anything they could to help. Her sons protested. They didn’t understand how their mother could just decide to let nature take its course. They knew her as a fighter; she always expected the best from them. Now it was their turn to discuss what they believed would be the best for her.
It was Max that stopped the dispute. He stood at the end of the dining room table and with tears in his eyes said, "Your mother is doing the best she can. She has always believed in living the best life and sharing that adventure with each of you. Today and into the future your mom and I are asking that you support us to continue to live with that passion and love." Max took a deep breath, sat down and looked lovingly at Sara. The sons could see the decision had already been made and with heart wrenching resolve, agreed and offered their love and support.
For a while Max and Sara continued taking short trips away with friends and enjoyed their time together. They watched old movies, took walks and generally lived their life trying to capture every day together.
Eventually Sara’s pain became difficult to control. She didn’t like to feel drugged, so she resisted taking her pain medication. She realized that the quality of life she so bravely talked to her children about was disappearing. She turned to her family doctor asking for better drugs. At the appointment the doctor said Sara had less than six months to live. He recommended hospice. He said hospice could help her continue to live her life with better quality and resolve some of her pain issues.
Sara and Max again called the family to come to the house. As a family they met the hospice team and learned what was available to Sara and each one of them. They were encouraged when they discovered that hospice patients usually live with more quality and pain control than those who do not choose hospice. The patient and family are supported by an inter-disciplinary team that addresses the issues of a terminal illness. They learned that hospice is a support team designed to enhance their life, not change it. There was no worry that Sara would have to leave her lovely home. The team could provide the care needed right there. With Max and the family helping out, caregivers would not be an issue.
As the hospice social worker I was impressed with the cohesiveness of this family. They were supportive and each willing to do their part to help. It was a wonderful testament to Sara and Max’s parenting. Only after a month of meeting with Sara and Max did I discover they were a blended family. Their communication was remarkable and the love apparent.
Sara met with me weekly. She was sweet and open. Sad about leaving Max and her family, but determined to live whatever life she had left. I arrived for one of our weekly meetings and she announced her obituary was finally finished. It was the last chore on her list. She encouraged me to read it. It was a beautifully simple rendition of her life, no frills, just a simple note about an exceptional woman. I looked up from the paper and I saw relief and pride that she had personally completed this last task. I also noticed pain showing through her smile. Pain I had not noticed fifteen minutes before.
I remarked that she seemed uncomfortable. She tearfully told me that she was experiencing pain often above a seven. At hospice we use a pain scale 1-10, one means not an issue, ten means unbearable. She said medication controlled the pain for a while but it returned with a vengeance in an hour or so. Usually pain is addressed by the hospice medical staff, however since pain often has an emotional dynamic, I asked Sara if I could try a technique I use to resolve many emotional issues called Meridian Tapping. She said, "Well, I’ve got medication if it doesn’t work, but I’d like to give it a try." I asked her when this extreme pain started and without hesitation she said, "Six days ago when Max and I quarreled about something really silly." "Since then", she said, "he has been distant and cranky." I asked her if Max would usually hold onto a misunderstanding and she tearfully said, "No, never, he’s usually a sweet happy guy. "I asked her where the pain was located and she said around her chest like a tight steel band. I asked her if she could see any colors on it and she said, "the band is blue and green with red angry swirls in it." I asked her to rate the level of tightness from one to ten. She said it was an 8. We started talking and tapping.
Sara was very willing and followed my lead. We started on the point on the hand called the karate chop point and she repeated after me: "Even though Max is distant and cranky and I’m not sure why, I do accept and love myself today. Even though I have this tight, blue and green with red swirls feeling
like a steel band around my chest and the pain is an 8, I do honor and accept myself. Even though for some reason Max is distant and cranky, and I have this tight steel band around my chest, which is eight tightness, I do profoundly love and accept myself today."
She followed the cadence and continued tapping on her meridian points, though at the underarm point, I tapped on myself and she skipped that spot, because of her pain sensitivity. We continued:
"This tight blue green with red swirls steel band that wraps around my chest, I choose to let it go. This band that causes me pain around my chest, I choose to release it. Max is distant and cranky, what’s up with that? The tight blue green steel band around my chest, I choose to release it. Eight pain I choose to let it go. This pain does not serve me; I choose to let it go. Max is cranky, he’s never been cranky before, is he getting enough fiber in his diet? (laughing) What if I chose to release this tight steel band that wraps around my chest, would it be ok for me to do that, could I do that, just with this silly tapping?" She was laughing again.
After one round over all her meridians I could see she was feeling better, so we stopped. She took a deep breath and I asked her what her pain and tightness level was. She said it had dropped down to a five. I asked why it was a five, and she said she believes that since she has cancer she has to have some pain.
We started tapping again: "This five pain that wraps around my chest, tight blue green with red swirls, feeling like a steel band. What if I let it go, this five pain, could I let it go? Would it be OK to let it go? The cancer has metastasized. Doesn’t that mean I have to have pain? What if I could loosen this steel band? What if this steel band pain actually represents hurt feelings and rejection? Could I let it go knowing that? Just by tapping and looking ridiculous? (Laughter) I choose to let this 5 pain go. I choose to release this pain and tightness into the universe to be used for good."
Now Sara was smiling. She reported that she really couldn’t say she was in pain at all and she didn’t feel the steel band or see the colors any more. But something still wasn’t right. I asked Sara to tell me in a word or two that described what wasn’t right. She said "My connection with Max." So we started tapping again, much more focused on her connection to Max.
"Even though I still feel like I have lost my connection with Max, I do honor and accept myself. I can’t put my finger on exactly why I feel this way, it could be I’m afraid of losing Max, or it could be that Max has been cranky and distant which isn’t normal for him. Even though for whatever reason I have a shadow left of concern about Max and me, I choose to release whatever it is. Today and every day I choose to focus on living the best life I possibly can in the present tense, and I love that about myself."
We continued tapping through all the meridians, Sara following me. "I am alive and in love with my best friend Max. I am happy that my life is so full of abundance. My friends and family are loving and devoted. Today I have the gift of the present. I honor and appreciate the health I do have. I ask my body to send healing energy throughout my system. I choose to honor my life and make every day the best day possible. Max loves me and I love him. What a great life we have together. I forgive him for forgetting about the present and I forgive myself for forgetting about the present. I choose to make every day count. I am in charge of my focus and I choose to focus on the abundance I do have. I choose to make every day count and I love that about myself."
Sara was truly beaming, she reported no pain and a feeling of overall contentment that she had not had since her diagnosis. She asked if I would consider tapping on Max.
I said "Of course I will, if Max agrees." Cancer is a family affair and Max was obviously suffering too.
I found Max outside in the garden, obviously depressed. He was stooped over watering some flowers. I asked him what was up. He said that for the last week the realization that he was going to lose his wife "to the blasted cancer" was just too terrible to bear. "I completed my list of things to do, now what do I do?" he said with sadness in his voice. He and Sara, with the help of their family, had every detail planned for her funeral. He had sold the RV and their boat and completely cleaned out the garage. He felt like he didn’t have anything else to do but sit and wait for the inevitable. He felt worthless to Sara because he couldn’t fix her and he felt he didn’t have anything to offer her anymore.
He and I talked for a while more and I asked if he would consider allowing me to teach him meridian tapping. He agreed, remarking he would do anything to make this horrible worthless feeling go away. I asked him to rate how worthless he felt, with the same scale I had used with Sara, he said his level was a ten.
We started to tap: "Even though I am completely worthless to Sara and I can’t make her better I would like to honor myself today. What’s the point I am losing her before my eyes, I am totally worthless. I feel like I am absolutely useless. Even though there is nothing I can do to make her better, and I feel like an idiot tapping on myself, I would like to profoundly love and accept myself anyway. Even though I feel like I am completely worthless to Sara, I do love her dearly and I love that about myself."
We continued tapping on other meridian points: "I’m completely worthless to Sara. I can’t fix it and my To Do list is done. What’s the point? There is nothing I can do. I am worthless to Sara now. Well I’m not completely worthless; I can still mow the lawn. (laughter) And she does get lonely if I’m not around. But I can’t fix her cancer and it really makes me mad! (tears) I’m the man! I’m supposed to protect my family and fix things (more tears) and I can’t do either anymore! I’m not holding up my side of the bargain, I’m supposed to protect her! (tears) I’m really angry; it’s not the way it’s supposed to be. We already fought the cancer beast and I thought we won! This is not my dream of retirement! I’m mad as hell and I don’t know who to take it out on! I’m worthless, no, I’m not, I’m angry oh, so angry, and I’m frustrated because my To Do list is completely done! But with all this anger and frustration about what I can’t do, I’m missing the little things I can do."
I asked Max how his feelings of worthlessness were doing. He blinked his eyes and said "Well I’ll be damned; I think it’s not so strong." We continued: "What if I let the belief that I have to fix Sara go? What if I let this worthless feeling go? What if I realized that I am wasting time worrying about what I can’t change? What if I let this worthless feeling go? It’s not serving me and it’s not serving Sara. What if I just let it go? Could I let it go? Would I still be a good husband if I let it go? I am a good husband and I love my wife dearly. I would change this situation in a minute if I could but I can’t, I am doing the very best that I can under the circumstances.
We stopped, Max seemed a lot lighter. His level of feeling worthless had dropped to a two. And he was smiling. I asked him why he still had a two level left and he said he was a little guilty for wasting time avoiding Sara. We talked more about how useless guilt is.
Guilt limits our potential and stops us from living in the present. We started tapping again. All meridian points: "I choose to release any guilt about what I have or have not done in the past. I can’t change it and it’s a big waste of time. I choose to live my life in the present with love and abundance. I choose to wake up every morning and ask myself how I will make this day fabulous. I am grateful for my wife and honor what a wonderful loving woman she is. I choose to be happy and light and deal with all my life challenges with honor and integrity. I chose to give myself a break when I can’t fix it. I am a loving, wonderful husband. My wife loves me, my kids love me, my dog loves me and I love that about myself. I release any useless emotions that keep me from experiencing the present as it should be; full of love and beauty. I choose to see the beauty and abundance that is mine to appreciate every day. I choose to live in the present and appreciate every moment I can with my wonderful wife Sara."
Max looked like he had grown six inches. His posture was straight and he was so much brighter. He said he wanted to start with his present right now. He walked into the house and gently hugged Sara and told her how much he loved her. When I left they were both beaming.
After six weeks Sara’s tight steel band has not returned. Yes, she is still a hospice patient, and continues to decline. She still needs pain medication for the physical pain but she taps with me to reduce her emotional pain. She is enjoying each day she has with her kids, grandkids and loving husband, Max. When I visit the house now, it is full of music, fresh flowers, light and laughter. Max takes Sara out often for picnics by the river, night drives just to look at the stars or they watch old movies together, holding hands. They report their relationship feels shiny and new.
Max gets up every morning and walks the dog. He tells me, "During the first 30 minutes of the walk I just breathe, then I focus on how I can make my day the best it can possibly be. The last 10 minutes of the walk I think about how I can make Sara’s day absolutely magnificent. And I have a very important job. My job is to cherish the moments we have together. I have no control of our future, I just do the best I can every day."
Using meridian tapping helped move Max and Sara into the present. It really doesn’t matter how long they have together. The time they have will be full of love and laughter.
None of us have a crystal ball; all any of us have is right now, this moment, the present. Anyone living with a terminal illness knows there are lots of challenges ahead, some very difficult. But even in the most trying of times, beauty can be found. Living in the present is a lesson for us all. No one knows when we or our loved ones will leave this world. Identify what is really important in your life. Try to never sweat the small stuff and always, always, tell family members and friends how much they are loved.
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Joanne Harvey MSW, EFT/MTT Practitioner has been a natural healer all her life. Her passion is fueled not only by alleviating emotional and physical pain and suffering but assisting clients to experience challenges on their own terms. Joanne's clients are impressed with her uncanny awareness, sensitivity and ability to get right to the point. This story is from a chapter in Joanne's book Dying To Live, Embracing The Journey. If you would like to contact her please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted August 20, 2010 01:18 PM
Hello Ms Harvey
Thank You for your generosity of spirit, from a reader and fellow healer.
In Peace and Light to All
Posted August 20, 2010 02:54 PM
BLESSINGS, I loved your story of MAX AND SARA, Thank you for sharing. I am sure all of us can take something from their touching story.
I plan on passing the important info on to others. MAY EVERYONES DAY BE BRIGHT AND FULL OF LOVE.
Posted August 22, 2010 12:05 PM
I can't believe you were able to see through their pain and despair to the beauty and hope within. Please tell Sara we are praying for her, and that her story is an inspiration to all who read it. And of course, Max too.
Posted August 22, 2010 01:27 PM
Dorothy, Gay and Rachel,
Thank you for your lovely comments. EFT/MTT is a simply elegant technique to help release emotional blocks standing in the way of living our life to the fullest. Sara and Max will be so happy to hear that you enjoyed their story.
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