Taking the full measure of life

Feeling What Is

January 24th, 2013 · 10 Comments

If you're new here and want to understand the title and purpose of my blog, you can read my first post by clicking here. You may also want to subscribe to my RSS feed so that you don't miss further posts of interest to you. Thanks for visiting, and I hope you'll stop by often!

I’m meeting with a surgeon next week.

On bad days, it feels like I have spent my adulthood having surgeries and suffering between surgeries.  I’ve averaged one pelvic surgery every two years since my senior year of college, and this latest one, should it take place, will be right on track with that, as my last one was in January of 2011.

I’m weary of it. I’m worn out by it. I’m also just weary and worn out in general right now. I’m in moderate pain daily, and I wake up in pain multiple times a night on top of waking up to care for our son (which my husband does as well, to be clear). And while I have an amazing time with my awesome little son, it hit me a while back that I just can’t be fully present with him all day long like I want to be when I’m hurting at this level. (The pain has gotten worse since we adopted him.) So as scary as surgery is–and it is scary; it may mean giving up more organs and any hope of fertility–I’ll take the hope it may offer over this state, if the surgeon thinks there is hope to be had.

There’s such a strong strain of thought running through our culture right now that says that you must always think positively if you want positive things to happen.  I think hope is one of the most important words in our language. I think it is so important that I asked for a friend to give me a necklace with a tiny ‘hope’ charm before my very first surgery, and I wear it every time I am going through a day that I know will be scary–like the day of this upcoming appointment.

But I also think that when we think that we can only think positively about the future, we’re not really eliminating the negative or more difficult emotions. Instead, what we’re often doing is stuffing down those harder emotions so that we don’t have to feel them head-on.  But they’re still there in our bodies, in our hearts.  They may come out through addictive behaviors–anything from drinking too much to overeating or compulsively controlling our eating. They may come out through physical suffering. They may come out through lashing out at people around us for unrelated things.  But they’re present whether we want to recognize them or not. Anyone who says he has only positive emotional experiences is lying and probably also selling something.

I’m trying to accept those emotions and give them space in my life.  I’m crying a lot right now, and while that is hard to admit for some reason, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Some days, I’m feeling a good bit of hope, and some days, I’m feeling so upset that this is my body at the age of 32, despite everything I’ve tried (and I have spent an enormous amount of energy, time, and money trying to change this situation, always hoping the next idea would be the thing that would work).

Lately I have worked to give up the idea that my diet will cure me. I’ve tried everything from macrobiotic to vegetarianism to Paleo eating. (Paleo-ish eating does suit my health best in other ways, but it hasn’t cured me.) And I’ve been working to give up the idea that holistic treatments (though, again, they’re good for me) will cure me: I’ve spent over $15,000 in the last three years going that route, probably over $20,000 in the last five years. I’m not sure Western medicine can cure me, either–I’m not sure I can be cured–and there is something both terrifying and freeing in the idea of giving up the idea that there will be any one thing that will suddenly make me okay.

I’m not always doing great at feeling these emotions. They take up a lot of space in my head, and at some times they add to the ache in my body, like while I’m typing this. Letting myself feel it all instead of hiding from it isn’t easy. I made gluten-free, vegan cupcakes yesterday, and I ate more of them that I would care to admit before I sent the rest to work with my husband, for his co-workers. But moment by moment, I’m working to let the feelings be without trying too hard to turn away. I think it’s an important skill to have as a whole-hearted adult.

Tags: on the soapbox · sturm and drang

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Hannah S-Q // Jan 24, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    Lots of love to you. This actually is really affirming to read this. Of course that isn’t the most important thing but I feel some things mirrored with my experience. I have lots of physical (and emotional) pain when I resist my feelings. I can literal double over in pain and not know why until I realize there’s some major source of stress that I am not acknowledging. I love the wisdom and acceptance in this post, even though obviously none of this is easy.


  • 2 Kristen // Jan 24, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Oh, Sally. Great honesty!

    This reminds me of Brene Brown, whom I adore.

    I am sorry you are going through pain and suffering.

  • 3 KitschenBitsch // Jan 24, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Keep hanging in, and please keep writing and talking about it. While my pain/frustration has not been at your level, I’ve spent the last year having tests run, going to PT, tweaking diet, and beating my head against the wall. You are tough, honest, and wonderful. Keep at it.

  • 4 Cheryl // Jan 25, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Hi Sally–
    What a beautiful, heartfelt post. I’m sorry you’re hurting. There is a lot of healing available when we’re present with grief and pain, and your post nicely illustrates the difference between healing and curing.

  • 5 Sharon Aiken // Jan 25, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    One of the important elements of meditation is being in touch with your own person–both physically, spiritually, emotionally. It does not make everything “okay” or inspire false “hope” but it does give a person permission to accept being human–with the pain, at times. On lucky days, less pain. And for the moment. You are on the right tract here, I think; you must be honest and you are, facing whatever you may have to face. I wish I could make it all better; I know all your readers and FB friends feel the same way, but we can’t. But I do believe in prayer, and I will continue to ask God to hold you in the palm of His hand, to give you continued strength and more good moments, especially with your guys.

  • 6 Quinn // Jan 27, 2013 at 11:44 am

    I empathize with the feelings you express, as I am in pain nearly all the time; it’s “just” a matter of degree. People (meaning well, I’m sure) always seem to ask two questions: “So, what IS it, exactly?” (not realizing that maybe I don’t want to discuss details of my medical history over and over again in social situations) and “This has been going on for YEARS! Can’t you have surgery for that?” (Because some people think surgery is the solution to any pain-related issue; you have “the operation” and then you’re “fixed.”)
    For the past 6 months, each day I’ve been doing frequent, brief periods of simple breathing awareness meditation to keep me in the present as much as possible. It may not help my body, but it certainly helps my head.
    Just wanted to say hello, and thanks for sharing what you are experiencing. I hope things go well for you.

  • 7 Margarita // Feb 19, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Dear Sally:
    Your writing is beautiful – keep on writing. I find that writing can also be healing in some ways.
    And please don’t give up — hope and positive attitude are so important and you most certainly have both. Much blessings!
    Regards and Best wishes to quick recovery.

  • 8 Carrie // Feb 21, 2013 at 8:06 am

    Sally, I just want you to know I appreciate the words and the emotions you are sharing. It’s so hard to even feel them, let alone go through them. Just know so many people love you and are here for you through the hard, trying times. ((((((((((((((big big big hugs)))))))))))))))))))))).

  • 9 Jen Lewis // Feb 28, 2013 at 1:57 am

    Sally, I’m sorry you are struggling. I haven’t read all of your blogs, so forgive me … But need to throw an idea your way. When you ate gluten free, were u 100% GF? I’m asking because I wonder about possibility of celiacs disease. Have you been blood tested for that? It wreaks havoc on the whole body. I don’t know you, but wish you all the best. I think of you often (which is weird since I don’t know u)… But your bread recipe has been a godsend for my kids. I share it with others often. Good luck with your surgery.

  • 10 Jen Lewis // Feb 28, 2013 at 2:05 am

    Two more ideas that I have for u…
    Doctor’s data 3 day stool study gives very good info in gut health – and if gut has problems, can affect rest of body.
    Spectracell lab in Houston has a Comprehensive Nutritional Profile that does functional testing of 34 vit/minerals/AO. Helpful for anyone suffering with chronic disease.
    Been struggling here with celiacs and gluten sensitivity and my sincerest hope for u is that you find answers to your ailments. Good luck!

Leave a Comment

Powered by WP Hashcash