When You Are Hurting – Suffering Just Is

Daughters of a father who was trapped in a col...

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My dad, excellent in his suffering, has shown how to lose, how to spend the time it takes to grieve it and enjoy the rest that makes life worth living.  My dad should have a medal in suffering. If I knew where to get them I’d send word.

Some of his suffering, he played a causal part in, but who cares.  It doesn’t have a qualifying relationship to “deserving” empathy and the spiritual nod.  Those come because of Love, not our performance.

None of us are foreigners to suffering others, ourselves, cause, accident, defined and ignominious explanations.  For reason and for lack of reason we suffer.  No, the etiology of suffering isn’t why we care about its abuse.  Sure we hope not to repeat mistakes that lead to suffering and that makes it’s etiology worth reflection, but not as
a qualifier to caring.

So no.

Between one grief and another, between this fault and that fault, the loss “Is.”  It just Is.  That’s Dad’s presence I’m talking about.

In a culture counting and studying our wrongs and our rights for the purpose of squeezing currency out of it, we need presence.  Presence allows for all the rest.  The healing.  The forgiveness.  The grieving.  The hope that remains.  Presence allows for us to continue valued.

Presence allows us to live for what is still worth living for.

After writing blog-post “When You Are Hurting, Remember Why You Want To Live, And Live For That,” I heard from someone suffering via his fabulous on-line monthly journal “Psyche’s Flashlight.”  He said,

I read this after a recent stint in the hospital, and I can’t tell you how much it resonates with me. This is what saved my life.

Suffering Is.

Question:  What has helped keep you away from qualifying your suffering or that of others?  Please tell me your story.

Live And Live Despite The Ongoing Loss

Red slipper

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Self-Care Tip #141- Live and live despite the loss.  Be a friend to yourself.

The other day, my hair was barely pinned back in a knotty mass, when I arrived at clinic late with my house slippers still on.  I didn’t realize this of course until I heard this flapping sound echoing behind me as I hooned down the hall.  Distracted by myself, I seemed to suddenly come upon an old man.  He was lovely really, wrinkled, clearly handsome in his day, shuffling my same direction, and also in his house slippers.  It was less than a second when I took this all in and I suddenly felt very self-conscious.  Not awkward for the normal reasons that I should have been, like my nappy appearance, but I’ve never really thought I was “normal.”  No, I felt rude.  I’m much more sensitive to rude than ugly.

Do the younger seem rude to the older?  There with their supple joints, perky bodies and minds, hope, and shorter medication lists?  I felt rude.  Rude combined with awkward is not something most people are comfortable looking at, which is what I unfortunately offered up to this innocent man.  Walking fast felt wrong.  Not sure what to do, I sort of slowed, yet my tardiness to clinic didn’t let my gait relax.  Giving an uncertain smile, I managed not to make eye contact when I said “Hi there,” lest the eye contact lead to further tardiness.  Then off I galloped, luckily for both of us, only 3 doors down.

I didn’t spend more than a few seconds with that stranger, yet remember well what he symbolized for me.  I remember him when I get grumpy about not being able to eat as much as I did 10-years ago.  When I get resentful with my feet, (a size and a half HUGER since I had my first kid,) I see his lordosis (hunched back often from a collapsed spine.)  I wonder how he is doing with his losses.

There’s not much romance in growing old.  What is romantic is a beautiful person, who has been real with their losses and with the joys of life that are still available to them.  There’s no point in my denying that I can’t have cereal and pasta every day any more.  There’s no point in being angry about it.  I’ll just eat slower and force, er, I mean find more pleasure out of what I do eat.

I like to think that the old man in the hall made his and makes his peace with losses and is more glad than not for his life.  If so, maybe he was ok with my fast pace when he couldn’t.  Maybe it makes him more comfortable in a world in which he is becoming more and more of a stranger.  That is something to admire.  That is something that is worthy of life’s privilege.

After yesterday’s blog-post, a reader said it quite fine,

I did not know depression was progressive.  That’s depressing.  As is the realization that aging is progressive.  …On the other hand I can say I’ve had 61 more Christmas times than a new-born and perhaps that makes it worth it!

Question:  What losses are you struggling with?  How do you come to terms with your losses?  Please tell me your story.

When You Are Hurting, Remember Why You Want To Live, And Live For That

 

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Self-Care Tip #133 – When you are hurting, remember why you want to live, and live more purposefully for that.

My daughter has a viral upper respiratory infection.  She is laying on the floor in her sleeping bag that has the stuffed puppy dog head for a pillow.  She just wants to be near me today while I work.  She wakes up and coughs, I check her out and dose her if she’s febrile.  She goes back to sleep.  Awakens.  Trundles up to drink some mango juice, water, eat 3 noodles, comes down again and lays there, pink in the cheeks, red eyes and chafed upper lip.

Sometimes when one of the kids is sick they stay home if I’m here.  It usually stresses me out but I’ve been getting better at believing more that we can take what comes and still get the work done.  Today, in-between patients, I laid down beside her.  Face-to-face.  She leaned in, opened her eyes and smiled!

She is one of the most delicately framed little people I know.  My nuclear family has never had small bones so this must be from someone on my husband’s side.  My daughter swung that tiny arm, warm with fever over my neck, put her face on mine, and fell asleep.

Lying there, thinking I’m so glad I could do this for her, suddenly felt wrong.  It flip-flopped over in my mind and I realized that I was glad.  But for me.

Having her near me while I work is a connecting force.  To both of us but maybe more for me.  My family has been exchanging this virus for 2 weeks now.  It hasn’t been hell but it has not been a delight.  Yet here I find myself delighted.  I wonder how long I’m going carry this gladness around.

Come what may in this world, it is these surprising moments that convince us about the rest.

In psychiatry, I’m required to ask each patient if they have thoughts of wanting to die.  Then I ask, “What do you want to live for?”  That catches some people off guard and I’ve gotten looks that could defend anyone in war.  But we aren’t at war and eventually they tell me why they want to stay alive another day.

At some level we all answer that question even if indirectly.  Everyone suffers.  If I were asked, my daughter’s smile would be on my list.

I am often amazed by good things that come out of bad.  Knowing that, gives hope.  But it also gives purpose and we can choose to angle ourselves more purposefully towards that rather than passively.  We can choose to live for the reasons we think worth living for.

My husband prays, “God please turn my posture toward you today.”  I’ve always loved that.

Question:  Why do you want to stay alive?  What are you living for?  Please tell me your story.