Tuesday, July 15, 2008

rusty nails

After stepping on a nail, I learn to avoid that experience again. After the second or third time, I start making the effort that's required. Pulling the nails out of boards, turning the boards so the nails face down, looking where I am going so I can see the nails before I step on them. Now, today, after many years of practise, I don't trust a single board lying on the ground. Any one of them could be holding a rusty trap. I don't want to limp, get an infection, have to get a tetanus shot. Eventually I figured it out. Learnt to avoid and prevent.

So it was with emotional pain, it's uncomfortable, unpleasant. The word "yucky" come to mind, but I can't use that, what would people think? I don't like emotional pain, it comes in many forms and seems to be unavoidable. Eventually I figured it out. Alcohol equals no pain. It worked. Did the trick, so to speak. I could avoid and prevent the pain from happening.

For many years it worked. Till I got a brain infection. All that was in the space between my ears was the pus of self-pity. <----- insert yuck here. It took a lot of years before the pain of drinking became worse than the pain of facing life. So, today I am sober, being willing to face the pain that life presents. Or, so I thought.

My primary relationship is with my spouse (if one were to exclude my Higher Power). That relationship is the source of much joy as well as much pain. Lately, it's been mostly pain. And when I feel that pain, one of the first things that pop into my mind, besides yuck, is "Do you want to be right or be happy" I've used that saying many times to allow myself to stuff my feelings, bury them, not acknowledging them. I didn't believe I had a right to these feelings. Feelings of anger, fear, wanting to be in control, etc. etc. Part of my justification is that I've hurt my spouse many many times in the past so why would I do speak of my feelings to her? Emotional pain avoidance. Not a good idea.

The trouble with stuffed feelings, avoiding issues, simply blaming myself for all the difficulties in the relationship, and attempting to dodge the nails in the relationship, is that it eventually becomes a very painful boil. Needs to be lanced. A week ago, we were both thinking there was way to much pain in this relationship. We reached out for help. We spoke with a councillor.

My partner and I had the most engaged conversation in front of another person. It seemed as if we were both willing to take more risks, be more vulnerable, when there was a third party in the room. The space around us was cleared of some debris, there was room to breath again, hope returned. All by talking. By being open and honest. Unstuffing. Sharing. Emotional intimacy. The most important thing I got our of that session is how important it is to check with my partner to see if I'm understanding her correctly. Not assuming I know her thoughts. I really can't read her mind, nor she mine.

Pain is unavoidable. There is always going to be some rusty nail lying hidden away. We can't avoid the pain. Once we are in the embrace of some well meaning difficulty, the best way out is through. Words can be used as weapons. They can also be agents of healing.

"He that can't endure the bad will not live to see the good." -Anonymous

1 comment:

pat said...

But wouldn't it be so great not to ever feel pain? Though I suppose without some form of pain there would be no growth. This is where I sigh.