I will carry loss the rest of my life. The question is, “How do I choose to carry such loss, and such love, in such a life?”
Today, I have been wandering the recesses of my Afterloss with how I carry pain. It has brought me to a place I cannot pass until I deal with it. I asked myself whether I wanted to continue in deflection or live in reflection today.
This morning I was watching how I was focused on people and issues that really have nothing to do with me. I was trying to devise a plan to deal with these “pressing” issues. I thought I was looking for a solution, but then I realized I was looking for a place to hide.
I settled into the stillness and saw the commotion. I looked deeper at all my good intentions to find the real intention was to deflect the uncomfortable, painful parts of me. It was then I saw how I was trying to deflect what I was really feeling on an inconsequential situation.
My head was spinning with all the things he said or they did, or the important issues of the day. In reality, I was trying to get out the orbit around what really matters, what hurts, and what has yet to find healing. I was deflecting what I was really feeling on to what was safer to feel.
I was in a major car accident when I was twenty. There was a great deal of pain, but not in the beginning. I was in shock. I felt nothing. I wandered in a daze until the shock subsided. I then entered the greatest physical pain I’ve ever experienced.
As they were cleaning the wounds with sterile water I was holding on to the sidebars of the hospital bed. The pain was so great I bent the bars, pulling them into me. I had to do something to deal with the overwhelming agony.
Loss has been the greatest pain I’ve ever experienced, far beyond any other. In moments of overwhelming agony, I reached for anything outside of me to take me anywhere other than inside the emptiness of loss. I wanted the pain to go away.
The deflection of pain has metaphorically become “pulling the bars into me.” My looking out there to placate the pain can become my prison rather than my protector.
I studied the crossroads I found myself confronting this morning between deflection and reflection. Did I want to divert what I was feeling, to deflect, to push away and hide in something that doesn’t really matter? Or did I want to choose to lean into the pain, to gaze deeply in its reflection. I saw how my pain was trying to lead me to peace. I chose the latter.
Pain, no matter how much I wish to avoid it, is unavoidable. I can’t go around it, ignore it, or pretend it is not there. I can only go through it as it goes through me.
Ironically, I see my pain is not there to hurt me. My pain is there to heal me, just as Lydia, Matt and Bryan’s love was never intended to hurt me. I walked with them through so much pain – theirs, mine and ours. Embedded in the anguish was the love we carried into every moment. I could not, and cannot, separate love from any experience, including my pain.
When I encounter a morning like today and I see how I want to look anywhere but into what I am feeling, I am in deflection mode. I don’t want to the pain. But what I am also saying it I don’t want the love this pain is trying to take me to. In an odd way, I’m saying, “Leave my pain alone, I’m busy with other things.” But the pain doesn’t go away when I do.
Every time I lean into the pain, I find my way through it into a greater expanse of love. What I wanted to deflect becomes a reflection of something greater. I enter peace’s compassion. In being willing to touch the pain, I touch love, and in turn, I touch the world differently.
Since this page has been going, there have been so many people who have shared how they are helping others through their pain and loss. Love like that has risen from the ruins of shattered lives that have leaned into their sorrow and found love to be indestructible. It is inspiring to me to see those that have lost so much give so much.
This morning I stopped in my tracks when I realized I didn’t want to feel the fear, the hurt and the uncertainty that sometimes still travels in me like a mist over the glen. I wanted to focus on someone else, something else. But, love brought me to a place to see all those feelings I wanted to deflect were keeping me from reflecting what really matters.
I am not here to hurt in meaninglessness. I do not choose to live in a perpetual spin cycle of pain. The unbearable nature of hurt occurs when I live in deflection. I choose to follow the hurt to its ultimate destination – love.
And I am not here to waste the love I have received. I have been given so much by the ones I love. I am here to give whatever I have been given. Even if it is the sorrow of loss, or the pain of love, it is still a life lived in reflection of what it can give in the midst of the living, in the midst of loss, in the midst of love. I can’t get there unless I am fully here.