(This is partly in response to egghunt’s post, which is so true and real.  She has been so wonderfully supportive of me over the past few months, and I hope that what follows isn’t inappropriate.)

I have never had a miscarriage because I have never been pregnant.  I have never done IUI or IVF.  I am an infertility lightweight.  But I am not very strong.

With most of my self I want to get rid of my pain.  I want to be the girl who spent the night naked on the beach with a bunch of friends,* not the girl who is suddenly shy about undressing in front of my husband because of the big fucking scar on my belly.  I want to be the girl reciting Yeats in Loud Drunk Voice, not the girl who stays in bed all weekend.  I want to be the girl who can hold her infant niece without that sinking, paralyzing feeling of failure.

But (and this is the dirty secret) there is a tiny, perverse part of me that cherishes the pain.  It’s the part of me that whispers “worthless” and “useless” and “failure;” the part of me that knows (knows) I was wasting my time in grad school, and if only we hadn’t waited so long I wouldn’t be here; the part of me that wonders if it would really be possible to crawl into bed and never come out.  That same perverse part of me is sure that there is nothing left of me but pain–and wonders what I would be without it.  So I hold it close, I look for validation, I tot up all the reasons why it’s understandable for me to feel like falling-apart every. goddamn. minute.

And around it goes.  It’s a trap, of course.  The logic goes like this:

  1. Given:  I experience my pain.
  2. Either it is real and valid, or I am making it up.
  3. I am not making it up.
  4. If my pain is real and valid, it is understandable that I continue to feel it.
  5. (and this one is the kicker)  If I stop feeling the pain, on some level I will be denying its reality and validity.  After all, if I can stop it, it must not have been so bad.
  6. I will never get out.

I know this sounds totally insane, and I get that the logic train is far, far off the rails here, but it’s where I am and it’s where I always get to when I start thinking about objective measures for pain.  My score on the pain test is not high.  If there’s a Pain Olympics I wouldn’t even be invited to the tryout.  I have met people who have dealt with real adversity.  Some of the people who comment on this blog have made it through miscarriages, failed IVFs, lost opportunities for adoption, and so much more.  What I have been living for the past two years is nothing compared to that.  So how do I prove my pain is real, other than by continuing to feel it?

Like I said, it’s a trap.

*Hey, it was college.


6 responses to “pain

  1. Egghunt’s post was a great one, and it gave a lot of us pause for thought. Thank you for your great post about pain, and thank you also for the generous comment you left on my blog. I find that your post illustrates so well the relationship that many of us have with out pain (check out Foxy at Someday who has a post on this entitled ‘My Scarlet Pain’, posted on Aug. 29, 2010). I think that we fear being whole. And I think we fear it because our society does not welcome whole, embodied persons, and certainly not women. Being whole would mean that our pain could live side by side with our joy, without one negating the other. Being whole means being complex human beings that do not fit within a 500-word magazine article or a 2-minute newscast. Being whole means carrying within us, and letting come through us the richness of our past experiences.
    I’m trying really hard to let that all sit together within me. I may feel broken by infertility and by other awful things in my past, but actually, I am a whole person. I believe that more and more.
    I don’t think your pain defines you, but I’m really sure that it is an important piece of who you are. Having experienced so much pain from the infertility, it tells me that you are someone with courage enough to dream and hope for things in her life.
    So, lovely, I don’t know you very well (yet), but I wanted to say that I honour you and your pain and your wholeness.

  2. Yeah, I get it. I’ve spent A LOT of time sitting in pain – so much so that I became depressed, and then I was busy being DEPRESSED and quite at home with it. It relieved me of the responsibility of moving forward, making new choices, making new plans and dreams. I even liked being physically in pain (twisted ankle) because it was an expression of how I felt inside.
    Buddhists call that fundamental darkness and in our practice, it is crucial that you never give up fighting it.n You deserve to be happy. Make that #7.

  3. Thank you for stopping by my blog earlier.

    The pain of infertility is palpable in your post. There will always be someone else who’s “suffered” more than you, but you cannot let that be the barometer of your “pain worthiness.” I wrote a post recently that alludes to this pain olympics you mention:

  4. I think the validation part makes it even more difficult. Because, apart from this awesome blogging community, we mostly suffer in silence. In a way, that perhaps adds even more pain, the lack of acknowledgment. (Although, given the responses of some people, sharing can bring more pain too…)
    With “it’s a trap” you actually sum it up very well. I do hope we find our way out though.

  5. Hugs and apologies for commenting late. I have to say that you worded it perfectly when you said about having to feel and acknowledge the pain in order to justify it’s realness.

    I don’t think it sounds perverse, it sound true to me.
    It’s such a hard subject to talk about and I found it really challenging when I was writing my post.

    Hopefully a lot of painfree days are just around the corner for you.

  6. Oh geez, How I understand your post -oh how it feel like you are in my head. I love the honest way that Augusta responds to this experience of mixed conflicting emotions, and the need to have them all simultaneously validated. This need for my pain to be acknowledged is so deep.

    This is not an easy struggle. I spent the last two sessions talking to my therapist about this very issue, and it is so emotionally driven and totally irrational, yet completely rational and central to our sense of purpose and being.

    For the record, You are Strong. You are. We are.

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