Pocket of Pain

I feel emotionally hung over after all the writing and pondering I did yesterday, but the drunken haze is starting to lift and like some of my hard-partying college days, I’m ready for another night on the town.

Talking about my struggles is hard, but once I start, I feel this relentless urge to keep going. It also feels as though I have an eerily secret life now that I’ve actually poured my heart out in this anonymous blog.

Anonymity is a complicated existence for me — I crave it like heroin, yet it repulses me like a quarter cup of Goody Powder. I teeter between two extremes. I tend to completely withdraw emotionally, careful not to let my pain show. On the flip side, I border on being an over-sharer.

In the years following my father’s death, I’ve learned to hide the darker elements of my life. I’d like to believe that these darker parts are fading — gradually becoming less and less important in my world.

My father’s suicide ruled my thoughts for so many years. I’d stuff the feelings down just to trudge through my days. I moved thousands of miles away and began a new life. No one in my new state knew, and I could selectively choose what and how much to tell — carefully crafting my tale, hoping to appear unfazed. This would make me stronger. I lived every day with these emotional dragons, but I soldiered on — young, smart, accomplished. I would admit from time to time that yes, it had been hard, but I was a survivor. This hurdle had only made me stronger.

I was beginning a new career and could never let down my guard. I was climbing the ladder of success, ready to take on the world. No one could ever know the pain and emptiness that I buried deep deep inside of myself. Truthfully, even back then, I knew the warrior goddess I desperately wanted to believe I was, had disappeared. I was broken, snapped in half was more like it, but I knew I could never let the pain show. It began to show up, just below the surface, and each time I felt the slightest flurry of emotion, I would push it away until eventually it was a scrap of shredded paper at the bottom of an overused landfill.

Gradually, I recognized that I had to face my pain. Often it was the guides in my life who pointed out that I wasn’t dealing straight on. It was ugly. It’s still ugly at times. I’ve employed numerous coping strategies — some healthy, many not so healthy. This list is long — several therapists, four career changes, a couple of trips back to school, exercise addiction, an eating disorder, yoga, prayer, meditation, stacks of self-help books, support groups.

Without realizing it, not confronting my grief shattered so many relationships. I am the queen of isolation and unreturned phone calls. It took years for me to learn that my default method of operation is to run away from hard things. I spent the first five years after my dad’s death doing one thing really well — RUNNING!!

I’m proud to say that my dad’s suicide has gradually become less relevant in my day to day life. I’ve dealt with the bulk of it and accept that the pain will still exist, but it no longer rules my life.

I’ve also come to realize that while running from the pain only makes it more difficult in the long run, it’s tough to function in the world while consumed with overwhelming grief. I try to remember this when I encounter crabbiness, grouchiness, selfishness, indifference, among others. Everyone has pain, and we’re all trying to figure out how to face this world that has come to expect, or at least reward, cheerfulness and romanticized success stories.

I’m trying to move forward facing other struggles in a healthier way. My marriage is not working, and there are several other situations with which I’m currently dealing that I have to push away so that I can parent effectively. I consider this my primary job, and I can not screw it up.

This blog serves as my pocket of pain. The pain really is small in contrast to so much of the beauty in my life. I try to teach my kids that gratitude is a state of mind as well as a practice, and I strive to model what I teach. I need an outlet for my pain and that is why I write — it’s my healthy outlet. I hope to share my pain and possibly help others in the process. I’ve done so much wrong, so perhaps telling my story can inspire others to channel their own pain more effectively. I’m still learning, but I’m definitely getting better every day. I’ve come to realize that for me, the process is a lifelong journey. Gradually, I’m learning to embrace this awesome trip.

It took years for the pain of losing my father to not feel like my entire world — now it is merely a tiny pocket in an otherwise happy existence. It sincerely has made me a better person and I’m so thankful that I’ve come through it stronger.

One day I know that the pain I currently feel in regards to my relationship woes will simply be a small scar. It will no longer be the thing I wake up to, the cloud that currently seems to follow me everywhere. It will be speck in the overall picture.

I will share with you my pocket of pain and sooner rather than later I will see the rose tucked neatly inside.