Sunday, June 10, 2018

6/11/18—Forgetting Pain

Earlier this week a neighbor quipped that it was longest I had gone this year without calling 911. 

In that moment, I was mowing my lawn (if you can believe that!) and a million miles away from what I'd been through earlier in the year. But their comment brought me back...back to the many sleepless nights I feared for my life. Back to the frustration I felt trying to find a "cure"—or at least a doctor who took me seriously. Back to the ever-increasing physical limitation I was experiencing. Back to the hours spent in uncomfortable ER beds and days spent in slightly less uncomfortable hospital beds. Back to my time spent in a rehab center creepier than a Stephen King novel. Back to the darkness that surrounded me for so long. 

Once we move past a painful time of our lives, we begin to forget how bad it was. And thank god, right? Can you imagine if women remembered the pain of giving birth? (Or babies the pain of being born, for that matter?) Some other species of ancient man would have survived instead of us, simply because we wouldn't adequately propagate the species. 

Our ability to forget the pain of our struggles is what keeps us moving forward—from breakups, illness, loss, victimization, whatever. We feel the pain, then we love again. We live again. We risk pain again. 

I can see I'm already disassociating from the trauma of the last few years. I think our brains do that for our survival. It puts distance between us and the pain. It puts the trauma in a place where we can recollect it happening, but don't have to relive it in a palpable way. 

I feel really sad for that woman who suffered so long, who sat alone in the dark, scared, so many nights. I'm still close enough to all of that to remember being the woman who experienced it, but there is growing emotional distance between me and her. It's almost like it happened to someone else. 

I've experienced that many times in my life, but none so much as when my father was murdered. The story is so incredible and bizarre that, even as I tell it, it feels like it happened to someone else. It also feels totally made up. And I rarely tell the REALLY strange bits because they're just. so. odd. 

Frankly, my father's murder and my sickness and all of that DID happen to a different person. Things like that change you forever. The fact I lived through those things instantly makes me a different person. 

And I should note that when you're just trying to hold on to your breath, your life or your sanity—when you're in survival mode—you're not able to dream. You're in a different place altogether when you feel vulnerable and threatened. That takes you out of yourself, too. So in that way, it's also as if it didn't happen to you. 

When you consider all this in terms of evolution, it's interesting that we forget pain and move on. If it weren't useful to us, it wouldn't be so deeply rooted in our natures. So since we're programmed to overcome trauma, it's also part of our makeup that we will have traumas to overcome. 

There was a time when I'd had some big traumas for a young person. But now that I'm 55, everyone my age has dealt with heavy crap. If there is a person who ever leaves this life with nary a scrape on their heart, spirit, sanity, etc., I'd have to wonder what they learned or how much they grew. Happy things prompt evolution, too. But, in my life, at least, the heavy stuff has been the most transformative. If it didn't suck so much to have to live through, we might actually welcome it.

1 comment:

  1. It's fascinating, because feeling pain is a survival instinct, and then forgetting you felt it after is, too. Some times you don't manage to process the experience at the time, which is when you get PTSD, and flashback, as though you really were living it again. So, your experience shows that you've processed everything well, and that's really the key to evolving, I think :)