OK, I’m back. Squirt some water in my mouth and hand me a towel while I tell ya something else I’m learning “in the ring”…
Anticipating pain is often worse than the actual pain.
When my kids have to get immunizations, I never tell them ahead of time. I refuse, for one, to listen to all the whining and worrying and constant attempts to get out of the shot. I feel just as guilty about them having to get it as they do apprehensive about getting it. As an expert on shots (I took three each day, in the belly, for ten months while bringing my youngest son into the world) I can tell you that the anticipation of the actual shot is worse than the shot itself. I just can’t have my kids going through a whole day knowing that in a few hours, there will be a needle stick. Might as well stab them with a sword. They’ll go through the same pain once they’ve agonized about the impending shot all day. I remember as a kid what fear there was in the possible shot at the doc’s office.
But now I’m grown and I’ve given myself three painful injections in the stomach every day for a ten month period of time. Where once I swooned at the alcohol smell and the sight of a needle, now shots are nothing to me.
Emotionally, however? Different story. Instead of dealing with pain, I run. I wring my hands, furrow my brow, eat chocolate, go out with the girls, hide, ANYTHING but face it and deal with it. I’m convinced that many, many people are eating, drinking, or internet surfing themselves sick, simply trying to avoid pain. Eating is one of my choice methods. I’ve even been known to pick the occasional fight with a certain gorgeous husband of mine rather than deal with my anticipated pain.
But guess what’s going on while I’m running scared, wondering how I’ll EVER live if I face the pain of adultery, of rejection, or betrayal or failure? I’M STILL FEELING THAT PAIN, only worse because I prolong it with anticipation. It’s still there in the pit of my stomach, waiting to hijack my emotions at the next vulnerable moment. Waiting for that last straw so it can come exploding out like lava from a volcano. It’s not as though I’m actually escaping pain with my avoidance methods. So why run? Why not just brace myself and face it?
I’m not saying dealing with major trauma is simply a matter of gritting your teeth and facing up to the pain. I know that things are much more complicated than that. I know that some pains ARE too much to be faced all in one sitting. I’m only making the point here that running isn’t any good either. I’m saying that the pain is already there, and if I haven’t died from the anticipation of feeling it, I probably won’t die from the actual feeling either. Especially since what I imagine is often worse than what actually is.
Plus, DEALING with pain actually gives me some element of control over it. Running only makes me a fugitive and allows the pain, or my need to avoid pain, to control my life, and I end up more screwed up than I ever intended. I may not be able to conquer it all at once, but facing up to it… simply deciding to stop running… means I’m back in the driver’s seat.
I like the driver’s seat. (Imagine my slow grin)
Now, buckle up for round three.