Sunday, December 16, 2012

Exposing the jugular

Maybe we like the pain. Maybe we're wired that way. Because without it, I don't know; maybe we just wouldn't feel real. What's that saying? Why do I keep hitting myself with a hammer? Because it feels so good when I stop. ~ Grey's Anatomy

I was once accused of being a 'sadistic b****" who got her "kicks off seeing children suffer".

It was an ex who, after having a frank discussion years later, admitted that the comment was reflective of his own pain, not of me. Yet for years the comment haunted me, making me doubt myself. question every decision, every motive. Even to this day I think it and twitch.

We were talking about my volunteer work in the pediatric wing and how I handled the stress, and I made the following comment (or some derivative of it because frankly, four years later, I don't remember the exact wordin)g:

"I've learned to appreciate the beauty of pain. Because with these kids... they are so scared, and there is sadness, but the families come together. You really see how much they all love each other and need each other as they face this experience. Pain is the other side of pleasure, you can't appreciate the good without the bad. There is nothing like facing your worst fears to bring out the best in people, a side they didnt know was there. So yeah, its a great experience in some ways, sadness can be exquisite, it helps you know you're alive."

This was pre-choosing the Child Life path. I had simply experienced a few months of volunteering, but I was trying to put into words something so enigmatic I could barely form the sentences.
Obviously I didn't think, and don't now, that it's a good thing we have suffering in this world. I wasn't glad in any way that my patients were miserable and in pain; I was simply reflecting that life is about balance. We know hot because we feel cold. We know full because we experience empty. We know love because we have suffered indifference. And we appreciate the true joy of experiencing bliss because we have felt what despair and hopelessness feels like.

Particularly anyone who has ever suffered from depression.

The sadness is bearable. It can be managed, and the mind distracted.

The true villian of depression is apathy. The clinical term is Anhedonia... or the inability to experience pleasure from activities.

Going through life sad is not the curse, at least with sadness you feel alive, you feel engaged, even in a negative sense.

But going through life as purely a participant? Going through your day watching everyone else engage and interact with the ability to have any emotional involvement? That is pure hell.

I was blessed. With the combination of my friends/family and sheer determination I pulled myself out of that pit after two years and became a functional human being again. I worked hard, I played hard. I dated, I went out, I got excited about my life goals, and I found myself again.

But I still bear the scars, and I've come to realize I always will.

I don't begrudge them; they are a part of me. They remind me of how far I've come and motivate me from ever becoming that way again. I seek help now at signs of trouble, and have learned the importance of not internalizing. But sometimes, late at night, after a heartbreak, witnessing a tragedy on the news, hearing a sad story of a patient at work, they creep in and frighten me with their potency.

I once was told I lived my life at full volume. "Im not sure if you actually feel MORE emotions than everyone else, but it's like you feel everything at 110%. When you're happy you're ecstatic, when you're sad... you're as blue as can be".

I'm glad for that. It makes life interesting and difficult, sure, but it lets me know I'm alive. I even embrace the sadness for it is an emotion.

Yet sometimes I feel as if it all creates too much pressure and encourages me to make poor decisions. I would rather make a bad choice than no choice at all, particularly in relationships. I had a different friend compliment me on my openness, that even after all my experiences I am still willing to keep trying again and again instead of shutting down emotionally.

Sometimes I need that break though.

Which is why I committed last year to taking a year off from dating. A year of no emotional entanglements (hah!) and a dedicated time to focus on me.

It's been... interesting to say the least.

I'm a third of the way through and while I can't say all my decision making has been the most intelligent, I've learned a lot about myself and what I want.

And what I don't.

So I'm committing to making changes. Real changes. To stop inviting complication and drama into my life. To stop second guessing my decisions because of a momentary feeling. To keep myself from allowing boredom to influence my decisions.

It's quality over quantity in all aspects of my life. In my job, in my family, in my personal life, yes even in my friends.

This tragedy in Connecticut is truly abominable; but it's bringing a community together. Do i think things like this happen for a reason? Absolutely not. I can't begin to fathom a universe where innocent children being slaughtered serves a 'greater purpose'.

But I think a greater good can come out of it if we let it.

So I'm rededicating myself to making my life count. To not wasting any moment, and to appreciating the time that I have. To letting my family and friends know I love them. To finding myself again after I get lost in the shuffle.

I'm committing myself to me, the me I know I want to be, not the me others tell me I am.

And I'm putting the hammer down.

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