Thursday, November 29, 2012

pain, hurt, life - Part 1

The problem with pain is that it hurts.

And we are all so very, very scared of hurt. 
Hurt is the smoke beneath which there can be found the smoldering debris of pain.
Pain jolts us to reality.
Pain unites us in fear.
 Pain exposes and weakens and equalizes us.
Most of my life as a survivor of sexual abuse
 has been one long odyssey in avoiding pain. 
When you have tasted pain as a child
your nature becomes bent towards identifying its' misty shape while it's still so far off, 
your senses always tuned to recognize pain's approach, 
your knee-jerk reaction scarcely makes allotment to even consider fight-or-flight...
by then you are already light years away. 

Pain recalls and reminds and reverberates like a tuning fork that will not be stilled.

Each of us has our own reasons for ducking pain, abuse survivor or not. 
My aversion to pain is specific to me and has tailored me a unique way
 just as your pain has shaped you to run for the hills at your own speed.
My pain crafted me into a fairy tale architect,  reimagining reality to cope.
Your pain may have sculpted you into an overcompensator or a resister or a rejector,
offering highways of survival.

Whatever we have allowed pain to do to us, 
there is yet a reason it exists. 

All my life I had wanted to birth lots of babies. 
As a little girl my heartfelt aspirations to be a mommy 
were among the anecdotes used to regale my parents' friends.
When I was 25 years old I became pregnant with my eldest child, my Luke.
Right at the very first stages of that very first pregnancy events which were completely unknown to me
were taking place inside my body and Luke's which would set the course of my childbearing
and (it's not over-stating to add) ultimately even my destiny. 
29 weeks into my pregnancy with Luke I was found to be acutely sick with 
preeclampsia or, dangerously high blood pressure. 
Life changed immediately. 
I was suddenly ordered to bed rest, first at home and then in the hospital.
For three weeks I languished feeling hot, swollen, annoyed, ridiculous, headachey, heavy, and whiney.
Our doctors pumped Luke's body with steroids via my pin-cushioned body, 
coaxing his fetal growth along.
People came to visit my hospital room bringing smiles and balloons to buoy my spirits 
but my body was betraying me even then, 
rejecting my pleas to chill out, 
oblivious to my obedience to Doctor's Orders, 
insistent on changing the course of my life.
One morning I woke up and learned my body had rebelliously decided we were to deliver Luke, 
all 3lbs of him
a full 8 weeks too early.
I could not run from the pain.
Shame swelled as my failure spread out before me 
like the blue surgical cloths which hid the surgery at my waist from my drugged and bleary eyes.

Luke spent weeks in the hospital learning to eat and breathe
and I wept buckets of tears in physical and emotional pain.
The solitude of the wooden rocking chair beside his NICU isolette offered my humiliation privacy.
My mother and mother-in-law exchanged worried looks at the foot of my bed when they realized the  drugs used to keep me incoherant while my body recovered from such blood pressure rollercoasters had
rendered me amnesiac of my delivery.
Almost all memory of the event was erased forever.
Leaving him there daily was the hardest thing I had ever done, coming home without him
almost unbearable.
My body had expanded to house another person all those 7 months and was preparing to be
 his primary caregiver 
but my hearts' plans were thwarted as he remained behind in the hospital 
cared for by confident nurses and faultless machines. 
My body echoed in vacancy, my soul crushed under the guilty deduction that 
I alone had failed my life's most important calling: 
as a little girl I had failed to keep myself I had failed to keep my baby safe.
It was almost more than I could endure.
When Luke came home I busied myself in being "mommy" finally,
pushing with my shoulder against the closet door blockading the crammed boxes of pain and hurt.

Over time and during the next two pregnancies {because I insisted the fairy tale WORK, damn it}
the shame of being a faulty incubator deepened, 
my conclusion that I was again and again
 being betrayed by my body.
Disgrace crashed like waves over me as I realized there would be no more babies.
Three healthy, noisy, sweet boys in 4 years time, 
accidentally arriving before I could catch my breath
and it was all over. 
The doctor peered down over the third set of blue surgical cloths, his graying eyebrows arching as he asked my 29 year-old self:
"Are you sure you wanna do this?"
and I heard my voice maintain with surety: 
while the OR's swirls of white blurred by my hot tears testified to the unspoken opposite truth.
But it was done - there would be no more babies and I would need to reimagine the fairy tale.

Pain had caught up with me. 
Running while carrying a dream too grand had slowed me enough to be caught and this time the hurt had time to seep into secret grooves, 
paths of self-loathing worn deep by the convictions of childhood that 
I made a mistake and I had failed and It was my fault.
The whispered childhood taunt threatened.
I was damaged then. 
I was damaged now.
And others were being damaged just by my existing as a damaged person.
The searing pain of that accusation scarred and the guilt sagged like chains
 around these beliefs in my heart. My fairy tale had been given an alternative ending.
Three years would bring the agony of defeated plans, the conflict of a discontent wife, 
the annoyance of a disappointed mother, the discord of hurt without purpose.

Contemptuously, I sank into the suspicion that I deserved this unrealized dream.

Unbeknownst to me, like early scatterings of sunlight 
in that place where you aren't sure whether morning is dawning or your eyes are just being audacious...
God was sifting the strands of my pain carefully,
His hands deftly braiding something extraordinary. 

Without the pain of my pregnancies, without the interruption of my fairy tale
I would have never turned the page to a messy, vibrant reality
where God melted down the fiascoes of my disappointing body into a useful machine

and startlingly fashioned .............. life.

God was taking my pain and making life from it.

I was to watch and see that this is God's specialty.

...stay tuned.


  1. Love you Esty! Love your honesty.

  2. Sweet sister, I could not be more grateful and proud that you are writing this here. You have a rare way with words that allows truth to come alive with pictures and analogies and invitation. Thank you for using this space to shout the truth that our pain is precious when we let him use it to shape us. I love you!

  3. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful.... Your words resonate so deeply with me. I understand all too well the guilt of being a failed incubator and leaving babies behind in the hospital as I went home without them. I don't think people understand the depths of that pain, the feelings of inadequacies, the emptiness of it all. Thank God that He can mold and shape something beautiful and worthwhile out of the pain. The pain can be buried deep and come out at the strangest times...