Monday, August 31, 2009

A heart can't smile if it's filled with tears

He told me a heart can't smile
If it's filled with tears
Growing up I thought "it's all gone"
Now it comes back to me, again
"Holdin' On Together" - Phoenix

In lieu of yet another Monday Meditation Mandala (I missed last week too, work has been far too pressing!), as promised, here is the rest of my ordeal with the trigeminal neuralgia. I feel it has been long enough for me to get both my head straight and that very same muddled head around it all, for the purpose of sharing the journey with anyone here and reading who is interested to know how it all panned out.

I don't doubt there is more to it (the neuralgia) than this. I also do not advocate simply writing "stuff" and then Poof! pain body begone! especially so when it means medical attention is not only wise but vital.

But in an effort to maintain a balanced view of what happens in my body, as well as the things I see or say or hear, I do find myself practicing more and more the quiet contemplation of the meaning of things. This can happen alongside the best (or worst) that medicine - western or otherwise - has to offer.

This one's going in the book too. It's my version of the Kerrigans' pool room.

At the time, I had been surrounded by people largely uneducated on how it felt to miscarry and who also apparently didn't pay much mind to what it felt like being on the other end of the things they said. Things like, "It’s just another early pregnancy loss, it wasn’t really a baby yet”, or, “You're still young, you can try again...". I never, ever gave myself permission to consider a miscarriage might be harder to go through than a birth. I was neither allowed nor encouraged to see our miscarriages as anything other than annoying little false starts, getting in the way of what it meant to be a real woman, in the scheme of things.

Now, so far after the events, I felt driven to go back over that period of my life, where I had endured so much loss, on a very beaten path, seemingly without end. I allowed myself, with my wisdom now, to acknowledge that each of my miscarriages had been enough to already send my body, mind and heart into baby-nurturing overdrive. Swollen breasts, heavy abdomen, nausea, fatigue all laced together with joy, euphoria and anticipation. For this to suddenly stop and those hormones to (sometimes) keep going but always just go nowhere... well, was it any wonder the complete package could knock a body around, not to mention the person occupying it?

This release catapulted me into a different level of healing, long overdue and unrecognised as being much needed. I felt validated, comforted, understood on a far deeper level than I had previously given mind to even needing. It led to some automatic writing in the days following the session with the acupuncturist. The words that flowed from my subconscious, finally unreserved and free to fall on to the paper via my pen, astounded me even after all this time.

“I am wearing the pain of those lost labours on my face,” I wrote. “My face was frozen for three days, followed by a full day of cramping that didn’t cease. I likened it to one long contraction when I was trying to explain it to people around me. I would look in the mirror and see nothing. My face belied the intense pain I was in and I looked unchanged.

On Wednesday night, relief came with the realisation that came in via the acupuncture. This condition is related to my miscarriages, I know it. I am now giving myself permission to feel affected by them.”

I was quite surprised to find myself writing like this, yet I also knew it was very important. The neuralgia had put my life on hold for days now and as the fear about it ever leaving again gave way, I saw there might be a way through it, if only I kept going and strived for understanding of it.

It was dark, in the early morning, and I was writing by candle light, hardly stopping. I trained myself to carry on and not let my conscious mind get in the way of what was coming up. I wrote in present tense, but I was writing from the perspective of the ‘me’ from years ago.

My writing sped up as more and more came to the surface.

“Sadness, bereft, empty, loss of direction, tired, ‘not again’ feeling. Why, why, why? Feel alone, not worthy enough. At what expense to our relationship am I going to keep trying to force a baby to come? I have to appear strong and uncrushed in the face of my fear that Steve will eventually say “No more” because it is now hurting us too much to be ‘worth it.’

So I keep going and going and going.

Survival mode - ‘this first, me later’. Except there never is a ‘later’.

I kept the cumulative effect of these miscarriages hidden from everyone, including myself, for fear of them also saying it was surely too painful and I should just stop trying. Dad said this directly to me in late 2008 and even then, I took great exception to it.

I had to put on a face – a public face – to mask the insidious hurting underneath.

I never truly allowed myself to feel my losses, even in hindsight, deeming them ‘not big enough, not worthy enough,’ compared to what was to come for us. I felt rushed to complete my grieving so that we could continue to keep trying on the next cycle. I was purely thinking of the physical aspect of all this. I never considered the emotional toll because there didn’t seem to be one. If my body kept getting pregnant, then my body must also be fine and it was all divinely timed. But was it?”

I cried exactly 3 tissues’ worth of tears when I read this again, later that day. It was not nearly as scary or painful, tapping in to that past me, as I thought it would be. It was cathartic and I felt lighter, as if I had really done myself a very good service. And not surprisingly, the neuralgia was quick to dissipate after this.

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