Cancer and the nesting instinct
In his New York Times column about the experience of recovering from prostate cancer, writer, Dana Jennings, commented on his desire to “nest” following treatment:
More than ever these days, I want to shrink the world to the couple of rooms in my house where I’m most comfortable. I’ve been declining requests for my time, and the social whirl is less compelling than it ever was…this was something I needed to do. It was part of the healing process, of coming to grips with my new vulnerability.
This nesting instinct is something which will be familiar to many of us both during treatment and in the immediate aftermath. I certainly found it to be an introspective time and I still find myself from time to time, slipping back into that impulse to take time out from the hustle and bustle of life and just “be” quietly with myself and my thoughts.
However, Jennings also sees something inherently “dangerous” in this impulse, as he struggles with that other familiar fellow feeling of post-treatment depression. ” It is a thin line between the womb of healing and cutting yourself off from the world.” he cautions.
Even so, that nesting impulse remains strong in us. Jennings has a beautiful phrase for the reason why this is so, because it is not just our bodies that are healing, but our spirits too are “convalescing”. “I’m still reinterpreting myself in the face of cancer, and that takes time and quiet. It can’t be rushed, and I can’t do it successfully if I’m caught up in our huckster culture’s unrelenting ruckus”, he writes.
Debbie Woodbury ran a series on her blog dedicated to “feathering your nest” through cancer treatment and beyond. She wrote:
Who deserves to feather their nest more than the cancer survivor? During the diagnostic and treatment phases, there is no time or energy left for anything other than dealing with cancer. But little by little, you get stronger and stronger and yearn to reclaim your most intimate places from the intruder. Nesting re-establishes security, scrubs away sickness and reclaims the sanctuary which is your home.
Do you share this desire to nest following cancer treatment? Or did you feel a desire to get out there and reclaim your life again, throw yourself right back into the fray?