This post follows on from last week’s post about pain. As I realised that we wouldn’t be having children I grieved, and I felt pain like none I had felt before. I was angry. I was hurt. I thought life would never be good again.
Eventually, though, the pain became less and less and then my days started to be filled with hope and an interest in a different life to the one I thought I’d have – the one I thought Kirby and I would share. This took time.
But every now and then the pain returns with great power and depth. I feel like the wound is raw. I feel inconsolable. I am angry.
I used to try and deal with the pain by focussing on it so much that all I could see was despair. I saw only what I didn’t have and I wanted that and nothing else. I felt so awful that I wanted to tear at my skin until it bled so that I would have something to show people that represented how much I was hurting. That’s the problem pain of the heart and soul over a broken arm or leg – nobody else can see it.
I thought that to get rid of the pain I had to face it head on and exterminate it. But, that didn’t work. Focussing on the pain just seemed to give it some kind of extra power that hurt me even more.
I’ve realised that, instead of focussing on the pain, I am better off giving it space and honouring it in a way. It’s almost seems that in saying to it “okay, you’re here, here’s a spot for you until you are ready to go” takes away its power. It doesn’t have to force its way into my life with me pushing as much as I can to keep it away. It sits, it ponders, and then it leaves.
In the past few years I’ve developed a list of things to do when I feel the pain again. These things may or may not work for you, but I thought I would share them here as some inspiration for you:
Slow down and take time
The first thing I do is slow down. I put aside as much as I can – housework, my job if possible (even if it’s only for ten minutes, and I admit I’m lucky that I work at home), and other responsibilities. I move through my thoughts and feelings and observe them without getting involved. I let them be.
Then I take my time. I go through what I have to do in a more focussed way than usual. I really concentrate on washing the dishes, or playing with my dogs, or changing the cat litter.
I make sure that whatever activity I am doing I am not using it to completely avoid the pain I am feeling. Rather, I do my activities fully aware that my pain is sitting in the corner waiting for me.
Getting out into nature
I love the natural world. I love water and the night time sky in particular, as both seem to give me a sense of peace and that somehow I am going to be okay – regardless of what happens. That being okay for me isn’t limited to this lifetime, but could be after life, in a next life, or whatever happens after I die.
When I feel that pain and anger, if it’s night time, I go and sit outside and look at the stars. I think about what might be out there, how far away some of those stars are, and how some of them no longer exist and haven’t for a long, long time. I feel very comforted by that.
I may also go to the wetlands near our house and sit and watch the water and the birds all around. I listen to the birds call to each other, I feel the wind on my face, I may realise a few tears are trickling down my face.
My pain is there with me. It is sitting right there with me. It still wants me to give it my undivided attention, but I don’t. I let it be and let nature soothe it.
Sometimes I find it nice to meet my anger with joy over the children I might have had. I guess this sounds strange. What I mean is that I give my imagination an opportunity to think about those little souls and what they might have been like, what they might have been interested in, what types of mischief they would have gotten into. I think about their hair colour, their eyes, and I let myself feel their little hands in mine.
This meets the pain, for me, by saying to the pain “you’re here, sure, but I won’t let you take them from me.” I hold on to the happiness I have when I think about my children, and my anger finds it doesn’t have much room to stay anymore.
I also like to light a candle, or some incense, and focus on it in reflection about what could have been. Often I feel very wistful – a bit sad and a bit happy. Once again, my pain finds it doesn’t have a lot of room to stay.
Company or solitude…
When pain comes to visit I usually prefer some solitude first. I like to let things be for a while. I don’t want anyone to come in and try to fix it all for me. Nobody can do that anyway. People who love me want me to feel better, but I do need to give space to my pain and be with it in my own way for a while.
There are times, though, when I want company. I usually go and find Kirby and get a hug, but sometimes I will have a chat with a friend or family member. I tell them how I’m feeling, and that can really help.
When it gets real bad…
Pain can be persistent, and with my health conditions, such as depression and epilepsy, I need to be aware that sometimes feelings can cross over from being with me to being destructive. When I feel that this could happen I will seek professional help. I might talk to my doctor who treats me for depression, I might seek counselling. It really depends on what I feel I need at the time.
Just as a final word, I used to think I was a failure when I felt pain and anger, and even more so if I sought professional help to deal with those feelings. I thought that I was weak. Now I realise that this isn’t so. Feelings such as pain and anger are part of being human. They are part of me being human.
I don’t welcome them with open arms, but when feelings such as pain and anger arrive, I give them some space, I look after myself, and I watch them without engaging with them, and then I watch them go again. Before, when I used to fight these feelings head-on I always lost, but now, most of the time, they gracefully exit on their own and my life is fully my own again.