Monday, October 3, 2011

When Life Reaches Out

Excerpt from Chapter 3: An Ocean of Healing
            I grew up in the Caribbean, so I am quite familiar with the beauty and limitless nature of the ocean.  It is vast and ever changing.  It can be as smooth as glass and have an alluring calm.  But under that mask of stillness, there is such depth waiting to be explored.  Some readily plunge into the deep blue and face whatever lies beneath.  Others are gently lured in by the waves that come in slow and steady.   As for the rest of us, we get caught in the undertow with no time to prepare for the direction we are taken.  There is no escaping the much deeper waters we get thrusted into.   
            My trust in the goodness of life has kept me afloat during many trying times.  Yet, the pain of losing one pregnancy after another really rocked me to the core and admittedly, there were times I was not sure that I would survive.  I felt as though I was fighting against a riptide and was exhausted to the point of drowning.  So, why couldn’t I just stop fighting to have that other child?  Why couldn’t I just let go of that desire and just be grateful for the one child I did have?
             I once heard someone say, “Once you stop fighting for the life you think you are supposed to have and start living the life you want, everything seems to fall into place.”  I recorded this phrase in my journal.    About three years ago, after my sixth pregnancy loss, I came across these words while reading through past journals.   I was so distraught this day.  As I read these words, my interpretation was that I should stop trying to have another child.  This is not what I wanted to hear.   I tore this page from my journal, crumpled it up and threw it in the trash. 
             Four days later, while walking the dog I happened to look down to see some familiar writing.  When I picked up the soiled paper and saw that it was the same journal page I had thrown away, I saw this as a sign to hold on to it.  The trash had been collected three days earlier and this was the same route I took every day to walk the dog.  But this day, I was in a different space and these words held a different meaning.  Yes, I had been fighting…fighting to carry heavy burdens on my own because I thought I was supposed to. 
            This was the very day I first met with a woman by the name of Irma.  She is the one who started me on a path of healing, growth and re-education.  Other than the social worker who came to my hospital room the day following Jade’s birth and death, I had never before sought counseling or any form of professional help.  It never appealed to me to join a birth loss group, although I did receive newsletters from Compassionate Friends, a support group for bereaved parents.   I was not comfortable with the idea of sharing my innermost thoughts and emotions with others.  I had carried much hurt and pain throughout my life on my own.  So, for a long time, it never occurred to me that I would need someone to guide me in my healing...


In The Loneliness of Pain, David Foster Wallace, M.D., Ph.D says that "part of what makes pain 'painful' is its privacy and unsharability, the feeling of aloneness."  So, what heavy burden are you carrying on your own?   Recognize that you need others.  We were not meant to travel this journey alone.  Allow someone to lighten your burden of pain. 

Love to everyone,

Kathleen O'Malley, DC

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