I had a really gross dream last night. When, after waking, I looked up the images in my dream-symbol reference, they were all about unwelcome emotions getting bottled up and spilling over.
And here I thought I was grief-ing adequately-!
I mean, I sit with my hurt heart rather than immediately reaching for a book or diving into chores; I let my sad thoughts wander to their ends the way I do my other thoughts; I tell other people what’s going on inside me. To an extent, anyway, and I’m very truthful when people ask.
It’s disappointing to find out that, according to my deep insides, something else is needed. And I’m not sure what to do with that insight — beyond telling my inner-self: Mmmm. I see. I’m so sorry; it definitely sucks.
This writing is moving slowly. I’m grief-ing as I write: stopping, feeling tears gather beneath my sternum, in my throat, behind my eyes, waiting for them to spill and instead they disperse. Look. Here I am. Doing the thing. And yet not-doing? Is that what the dream was about?
As I drove to the grocery store earlier today, I mused about this thing I’ve read, about farmers working through pain and illness that would drop other folk in their tracks… evidently due to the farm (creatures, crops) not understanding about sick days, but needing care regardless. Who has time for pain?
I tied it into the kid-primary parents I know (and have been) who persist outwardly for similar reasons: once you’ve lived in this kind of need+persistence, it’s easier to shrug and keep going. What are you going to do, after all?
Last night I was joking/not-joking with one of my besties about women’s pain thresholds… how the women we know live the opposite of the ‘frail woman’ stereotypes from our childhood, but instead do things like live with a severe cavity for a month until finals are over, and then get the filling+emergency root canal. (Oh, that’s me.)
My mom said her pain was a “10” the day she went to the ER and they saw the cancer across her pancreas and liver. That scared me so. I’m pretty sure it scared everyone who loves her: one of her favorite stories on herself was being in late labor with me and barely pausing at each contraction.
My pain is not a 10.
When my shoulder was ‘messed up’ in high school — chronic pain due to the ball of my joint frequently sliding into the cartilage holding the system in place — sometimes that was a ‘10’. I remember having days where I tried to let my arm hang downward 100% of the time. Which didn’t work, because I had to take notes in class. Taking notes hurt, and I did it anyway, and downed another 4 ibuprofen.
What I remember from then, from my shoulder and from my depression, that I’m confronting again now,
is just how boring pain is. Pain like this, anyway.
It doesn’t offer much variation. It’s not rewarding. It’s not going anywhere any time soon. It simply is.
It has to be attended to, sure, like my pale skin (which requires much sunscreen etc. but otherwise doesn’t impinge on my dailyness).
When I’m asked about it, what can I say but: I’m okay.
When I need (or even just want) help, believe me, I do ask. But this is a time thing.
Something to keep under consideration,
but not the center of life.