About Pain
Mar 19 2010

Some of you may have been wondering why I took such an extended blogging break and why I’ve been so spotty in the times between posting.  I thought quite some time about posting this, but then I thought I might never reach my potential as a writer or even as a human being if I don’t throw caution to the wind and risk offending or for that matter validating/pleasing others.   Plus I thought that if it helps one person or helps someone think differently even if just for a nanosecond, then it would have been worth it.  Some of you may recall I wrote About Laughter, About Sleep, About Writing and About Car Paint.  This post is About Pain.

There’s physical pain and then there’s emotional, mental, and spiritual pain.  Most of us have experienced all different kinds in life.  The worst physical pain in my life came as a result of breastfeeding my son over 7 1/2 years ago now.  I developed an infection that hurt so bad I couldn’t sleep and if I was able to nod off, I would wake up with tears in my eyes.  I remember thinking “I want to die right now, but I can’t because I must feed my baby.”  I was determined to breastfeed him no matter how many people said I should give up.  I have never wished to die before or since.  I have wished to be waited on hand & foot while laying in a hammock on a beach drinking a pina colada and having my feet massaged, so if that’s what happens after death, I’m all in!  Thankfully the maternal instinct is so strong, and we live in a day & age where antibiotics are available that in a few excruciating weeks the pain was gone. But I still occasionally have memory pain that has diminished over time.

But emotional, mental, and spiritual pain seems to last much longer (unless you have chronic physical pain which probably exacerbates the emotional kind as well).  And unfortunately, a week of antibiotics doesn’t cure this kind of pain.  This kind of pain can start from childhood and stick with you…flaring up at various times in your life when things trigger your deep seated fears and emotional memories.  There’s a theory that you are often attracted to people that have some of the same traits as people in your family did growing up because it’s a known/comfortable pattern.  The theory continues that down deep, you want to resolve some of the pain that you as a child were never able to resolve, see your parents resolve, or resolve with your parents.  This theory is outlined in a book called Intimate Partners: Patterns in Love and Marriage (Amazon Link), and I read it before I got married, but I didn’t really get it until now because I didn’t know what those patterns were until I was immersed in it as an adult and mother.

What happens when someone in a marriage (with kids) finally realizes that the pattern is not resolvable or they don’t know how to, don’t want to, or can’t resolve it?  They suffer or get divorced and the pain is horrid.  Especially the pain you feel for the kids as you imagine the pain they might feel.  I lived through a divorce myself as a child and was often caught in the middle of a lot of bitterness and anger, and I have relived that pain for my kids even though it’s a completely different situation and their dad is a very good, involved father.

What’s even harder is when you are both good people that happened to have a lot of unexpected crap happen throughout the marriage.  You wonder what is wrong with you.  When in most cases, there is really nothing wrong with you, but you look back and realize that neither of you knew how to nurture a marriage or you didn’t see or understand the signs that should have been big clues that something huge needed to fundamentally change in each of you.  It’s like you both have blinders on until suddenly one of you takes them off and doesn’t like what they see, don’t see, feel, or don’t feel.  Marriage, like life, does not come with an instruction manual and even if it did everyone is so different it would be hard to apply to your unique marriage and you would think you could wing it or that it didn’t apply to you.  There are more instructions around a divorce which requires a signed agreement between the two of you outlining your responsibilities than there is before a marriage.

So, yes I just got divorced after what was probably close to a year of being separated mentally, if not physically.  This past year is somewhat of a blur.  It’s the hardest emotional, mental, and spiritual pain I’ve ever experienced and unfortunately there are no legal drugs I can take to make the pain disappear in a few weeks.  Despite the fact that 50%-60% of marriages end up in divorce, it is the 2nd most stress inducing event anyone can experience behind death of a loved one.  And it doesn’t really matter if you are the one leaving, the one being left, or it’s mutual.  Mix divorce with unusual work dynamics, kids, and other personal issues and you have a recipe for a potential breakdown.  Fortunately, I am very lucky/blessed to have wonderful friends, co-workers, family friends, and family who have supported me and let me cry on the phone, on email (yes, it’s possible to cry on email) or in front of them and repeatedly (until I’m sure they were sick of it) told me that everything will be OK.  They let me say and write stupid (although sometimes funny) things and were kind anyway.  I have never felt so out of control in my life!  I mean I’ve gone months without reconciling my check book, was late on a couple of house payments, and my house (although overall neat) more disorganized than I’d like.  Plus a whole shit load of other emotional stuff.

I’m still a ways away from being back to normal whatever that is, but we both love the kids immensely and right now we can’t foresee not being friends and friendly for their sakes.  From my perspective, we both still respect each other and as hard as this has been, we’ve both taken the high road because that’s the kind of people we are, and we know it’s best for the kids.  A child counselor told us it was obvious we loved the kids and they loved us.  She also said that they got along so well with each other, were exhibiting normal behavior for going through what they were going through, and seemed happy despite what they were experiencing which of course took off about 80% of my maternal guilt.   I did a post back in September 2009, called Double The Trouble, Double The Fun which stemmed from me feeling glad they had each other during this hard time their parents were going through.  I felt that I/we had done at least one thing right by giving them the gift of each other to weather storms that life will inevitably bring them.

So now you know why I had such a long break from writing on the blog.  My personal life started to bleed into the blog, and I needed to get a handle on things for a little while.  I think back to that Entrepreneurial Ledge where I stood almost a year and a half ago.  When your sleeping heart wakes up suddenly, it’s a very disorientating, scary feeling.  It’s like gasping for air while at the same time trying to soak in all the colors, beauty, sounds, smells, shapes, feelings that you have not noticed/felt for years.  You start falling in love with life again and it seems that pain is a part of love.  You unknowingly/desperately reach out to people, anyone kind nearby to help ease this searing pain. In the case of some friends and family, they are there for you in ways you never imagined.  In the case of others, they can’t or don’t know how to be there like you want/need them to be and it exacerbates and magnifies the pain.  You start to realize that you are really reaching out to your lost self and the only one who can save you from drowning is YOU.  Then you start the process of excruciatingly, slowly mending a broken heart and falling in love with yourself…and you wonder why and when you fell out of love in the first place.

Thank you for reading.

About the photo:  The photo above is of a piece of art that my cousin, who goes by the pseudonym of Isaac Falconer, made for me when I told her I was getting a divorce.  I didn’t get to see her that often growing up.  She is a unique, vibrant, passionate individual.  She has followed her own path and seems to have found happiness in doing so as well as people who appreciate and buy her art!  She has even exhibited in Italy.  The piece is called No Pleasure Garden (c) 2009 and it’s made of Chantilly lace from Italy with hand made hypo allergenic orchids affixed to two locations on the huge piece of lace.  In her words, “It’s meant to be placed across the bottom of your bed as a reminder to you of YOUR personal glory – which has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with your life-mate or your kids or your professional work.“  It looks so lovely at the bottom of my bed and makes me smile when I enter the room.

Author: | Filed under: blogging, breastfeeding, father, marriage, mother, parenting | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments »

13 Comments on “About Pain”

  1. 1 Neena said at 7:41 PM on March 19th, 2010:

    Oh Aruni – what a difficult time for you! Bittersweet to say the least. It sounds like you have an awesome support network. You are entering a period of self discovery – the poem called The Journey by Mary Oliver describes it so well. My thoughts are with you, hang in there.
    .-= Neena´s last blog ..Olivia the Pig =-.

  2. 2 jim hoover said at 10:01 AM on March 20th, 2010:

    Aruni, you never cease to amaze me. Well done! Thank you for sharing this message from the heart with all of us. A big Hug, Jim

  3. 3 Jeffrery said at 11:35 AM on March 20th, 2010:

    Oh sweetheart, I KNOW your pain and feel it deeply. This is a great post. Hard to do, but a necessary step to your next journey in life.

    In my marriage, I realized that I had actually married my mother (beautiful, smart, emotionally unavailable, needy, manipulative, controlling, and spoiled)!! I also realized that the problem was that I was asking my wife to do something she was incapable of doing, loving me at the same level I could love her. I actually felt more like King Théoden in the Lord of the Rings when he came out of the spell of Saroman! I felt the best thing to do was go out and control the one thing in the world I could control, ME! So I picked up my sword and went out to help the world. It is an amazing thing, helping others. You all of a sudden discover how incredibly resilient you are and at the some time discover a whole new world you never knew existed. I could tell you tons of quotes that can help you here, but will not.

    Anyway, enough about me.

    It always hurts worse for those who feel more (of course). Shallow, heartless people can go from disaster to disaster with little emotional scaring or growth, and that is my point. Aruni, you are growing, and sometimes that is really, really, really hard to do. You are shedding a skin that was too small for you, and in the process you are feeling the pain of a new more flexible, resilient, and stronger skin.

    Here is a little parable I like to read from time to time. It seems to help me when I am feeling blue or hurt or neglected or forgotten or needy or pain. I hope it helps you too? I am sorry for your pain, but in a way glad too, because now you are free to become the true you in all its glory for the world to see!

    “Become a Lake” – a Taoist-Chinese story

    An aging master grew tired of his apprentice complaining, and so, one morning, he sent him for some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master instructed the unhappy young man to put a handful of salt in a cup of water and then to drink it.

    “How does it taste?” the master asked. “Bitter,” spit the apprentice.

    The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake, and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.”

    As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?” “Fresh, refreshing,” remarked the apprentice.

    “Do you taste the salt?” asked the master. “No,” said the young man.

    At this, the master sat beside this serious young man who so reminded him of himself and took his hands, offering, “The pain of life is like a handful of salt; no more, no less; the amount of pain in life remains the exactly the same.

    However, the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things . . . Stop being a cup. Become a lake.”

    In my life and with my soul, in all things I do, I remember this and I grow the banks of my lake….Love, in all its forms, Jeffrey

  4. 4 Manoj Saxena said at 1:22 PM on March 20th, 2010:

    This is an incisive and thoughtfully written piece. There are quite a few people that I know of who are struggling with this transition and I am sure they will find a lot of courage and solace from your expressive writing.

    Sorry for your pain but I feel that you both will eventually come out stronger from this tough phase in your life.


  5. 5 Shaku Selvakumar said at 6:37 PM on March 20th, 2010:

    So much pain and so much honesty. Yet your strength and spirit tells me that you will dance, sing and fly because you will bend but not break.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. 6 Aruni said at 7:17 PM on March 20th, 2010:

    @Neena – what a great poem. Thanks for sharing!

    @jim – thanks for introducing me to The Search Within which helped to continue my heart opening journey.

    @jeffrey – what a great parable. I am working on growing the banks of my life lake.

    @Manoj – thanks for your support. I am slowly feeling the strength start to come back.

    @Shaku – I look forward to a lot more dancing and singing. See you soon!

  7. 7 Tamar Weinberg said at 8:17 PM on March 20th, 2010:

    Hi Aruni, I’m so sorry to hear about your pain. Virtual hugs to you!
    .-= Tamar Weinberg´s last blog ..10 Community Manager Responsibilities that Don’t Involve Twitter and Facebook =-.

  8. 8 Daria said at 9:43 AM on March 21st, 2010:

    Dear Aruni, I am sorry for your pain. I don’t know you dear but I know this applies to everyone: time will ease the pain.

  9. 9 Kevin Koym said at 3:41 PM on March 21st, 2010:

    Peace be with you Aruni.
    Thank you for sharing your story with me.

    I know this pain that you write about.

    I don’t know an end to the pain, all I can offer you is a blessing-

    Although you’re house might be messy, may you sleep in it peacefully.
    Although you may bounce a check, may your heart be full.
    Although you walk through some of the darkest hours, may you be fully awake.

    Take care, and let me know along the way if there’s anything that I can do to be of support.

    .-= Kevin Koym´s last blog ..Getting your startup out of Starbucks =-.

  10. 10 Diane said at 2:06 PM on March 22nd, 2010:

    You are so amazing and so creative. This is such a true blog and insightful to anyone that has gone through a somewhat amicable divorce. You should write more! I just never knew you were this good at revealing your thoughts in such an honest and heartfelt way!!

  11. 11 Aruni said at 9:44 PM on March 28th, 2010:

    @Tamar – thanks for the virtual hugs!

    @Daria – everyone tells me that time will heal it…wish time would go by faster. 🙂

    @Kevin – thanks for the nice sayings and for your support.

    @Diane – thanks for the kind words. I do plan to write more!

  12. 12 Rachel Muir said at 9:23 PM on March 29th, 2010:

    Dear Aruni:

    Kudos for saying shit. I am proud of you for cussing.

    I am also proud of you for being brave and doing what you needed, despite the pain. You are a strong and beautiful soul.

    Keep cussing.

    Love, Rachel

  13. 13 Aruni said at 8:48 AM on April 3rd, 2010:

    @Rachel – one of my resolutions for a long time has been to curse more. I don’t usually do that well at it, but I’m trying! 🙂