Hello again, dear readers. Eric here, with a hat-tip of thanks, and a follow up, to Cathy’s recent post entitled “Numbing out.” Today’s post is about getting through the hard times. Many of ours (Cathy’s and mine, that is) stem from our struggle with infertility and all that has ensued from that difficult time, including the ripples and repercussions we are still feeling this very week, but I’m also talking more broadly about the pains and rough spots in every life.
It’s been a difficult month or two on a lot of fronts. Some days, I feel beaten up. Some days I feel beaten down. Some days I just feel beaten. Daily stresses are normal for us all, but lately I’ve dealt with some health issues, unusual stresses at work, and all kinds of painful disappointments and hurts in our personal lives with friends and family.
If I’m honest with myself (and you all), the truth is that numbing out sounds like a very appealing option. Sometimes I want desperately to withdraw, to self-medicate with a bottle of wine, to just focus on the practical tasks in front of me, and grind through the day not addressing the emotional realities of what’s really happening.
But I also know that part of what we’re here to do is to hopefully help you learn from our mistakes and experiences along the way. And so, if only to help me take my own (by which I really mean Cathy’s) advice, I urge you not to numb out and not to hide from certain very difficult emotions.
If and when anger, resentment, disappointment and even heartbreak arise in your journey, I urge you (to use Cathy’s words) to lean into those feelings. Embrace them, go with them, get all splattered and sticky in them. You’ve got to get covered in them before you can wash them away. As Cathy said, failing to do so is actually just delaying your own healing. I promise you, I PROMISE you, there is goodness and happiness and joy on the other side, but you must go through the journey to get there.
I was reminded of this when I thought about that last month or two, seeking to find the gratitude and the good amidst the struggles. And I remembered that in those same six weeks or so, we got to see dear friends (and huge boosters of this blog) for the first time in a decade, and talk and hug late into the night recounting the struggles that brought them their beautiful daughter. We went to England where I got to play soccer and watch piano lessons and a hundred other ordinary, magical things with our nephews, who are 11 and 8. And I got many a greeting from our goddaughter, less than two years old, who Frankenstein-waddles into my legs at warp speed whenever she sees me, giggling and drooling at me as I sweep her up in my arms.
I guess what I’m saying is that, through all the difficulties, I’ve also had some of my most memorable and happy times with some of the children in our lives in those same six weeks. And I could never have borne them, or taken all the joy from them, if I had not travelled through those difficult emotions and come out the other side. I promise you that your feelings are a journey you must eventually take. It can only be postponed, it can’t be avoided, and delaying going through it only puts off the healing and the good that waits on the far shore.
There are some feelings and emotions, even negative ones – grief, love, sorrow, regret – that I think just become a formative part of who we are. But if I could close with one clear bit of advice, it is that I believe there are other negative emotions which we carry not in our hearts but in our hands – disappointment, resentment, bitterness, anger at friends or family or fate or our creator. These feelings are a burden, but not a burden on those who inflict them. Fate doesn’t care if you’re mad at it, only you do. They are a burden on those who carry them. Hands that are gripping old pains can’t grasp new happinesses. Arms that are full of anger can’t hug the people we love.
So I would close where I opened, with an endorsement of Cathy’s earlier advice. Understand your feelings, even the worst of them. Don’t hide, and don’t numb out. Pick up the burden, carry it on your path, and when the time comes, be able to set that weight down, and walk on with hands and arms open.
This post is also available in: Arabic