Pain is so messy, so unhinging, so inexplicable…
I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision not to let others in on my pain. Part of it is how I am wired. The other part was learned.
As a teenager and young adult, I revealed pain only when it bubbled over so much I couldn’t help it or when alcohol was involved. As you can imagine, neither scenario sets things up for a smooth unveiling. Historically it’s been pretty ugly, which was only motivation to continue the practice of keeping everything under wraps. Also, how else are you supposed to appear like you have it all together (not that anyone other than myself was buying that façade, but it was certainly what I was working towards)?
I had only been married for a short time when my Dad died. I remember thinking, “if I don’t handle this right, we may be doomed before we even started.”
Four months felt like enough time to move in together. Eleven months felt like enough time to get engaged. Eighteen months felt like enough time to get married. But, twenty-three months didn’t feel like enough time to share the agony of my loss or be that burden.
I picked the only time I knew I would be 100% uninterrupted – on my commute to and from work – and I cried; I unleashed it all during those two times a day, five days a week. After a while, I cried a little less, and then less and then not at all, but this process took over a year. And as time tends to do, it healed. I still had my moments (hell, I still have my moments), but the emotions weren’t so raw and so close to the surface anymore.
I stared my emotions down, fully and stoically; I didn’t hide from them, I sat with them until they softened…until I was ready to move on. I was proud of my coping method and how I handled things. I would even reveal my process to others, silently patting myself on the back.
But, here’s the thing…I was alone. I WAS ALL ALONE! I didn’t allow my husband in. I didn’t let him witness my journey, much less be a part of it. In sheltering him from what I thought were my worst parts, I robbed us both of an incredible time to grow together. I didn’t get to experience his unconditional love and I took from him the chance to give it. I denied him the opportunity to really “see” me and myself the opportunity to be “seen.”
Several years later, we went to the doctor for an ultra sound. We had experienced enough losses at this point we were prepared for bad news, but we were still not prepared for even worse news. The pregnancy was likely ectopic, they were 90% sure. My left tube had already been removed as it had burst due to a previous ectopic pregnancy. It never occurred to either of us my right tube could also be a problem. We discussed options with the doctor and went home to wait for the blood test results the next morning, which would give us confirmation of the diagnosis.
We ordered pizza and turned on a movie. We snuggled up with each other and our pups, preparing for the events that were about to unfold. Silently building strength, I think.
About an hour after we settled in, I felt the familiar pangs that come with a bursting tube. I get uncannily calm when chaos is about to ensue, so I simply turned to Jason and said, “Cramping is starting – only like a 2 out of 10, but I think we’ll be hitting the ER tonight.” I then settled back in to continue the movie (I make every attempt to ignore drama, yet seem to cause so much). Within 30 minutes I was in the worst pain I’d ever experienced and I was dry heaving. I continued writhing in misery on the drive to the hospital, as we waited for a bed and then for some time after.
Jason wants to fix everything and to him most everything has a fix. Witnessing this and feeling so helpless was killing him. Eventually, he relented and simply held his forehead to mine as my body continued to move about trying to rid itself of the pain. It was exactly what I needed.
It was the worst of me, of life, of everything…and I’d never felt closer to or more in love with my husband. I adore that moment. I cherish that moment.
You never know what you will find in the deep end of the worst parts. I will never deny us that opportunity again.
Photo Credit: Sakhon Nhek Photography