Your pain, and mine

by Annie Kaszina on July 22, 2011

The last 12 days have been the hardest of my life.

It began when my beloved partner was rushed into hospital where he spent 48 hours in Intensive Care, on a respirator, heavily sedated.

We have not been together long – less than three years – and we are not married.  But he is my partner in the truest sense of the word, my helpmeet,  the person in my life who truly loves, honors, cherishes and – if not exactly obeys –certainly gives my suggestions his full consideration, and often follows them.

He is at the very heart of my world.

I once saw an elderly, very unremarkable looking couple shopping in the supermarket.  As the man lifted the items they wanted off the shelves, he cracked sweet, innocent jokes, and his partner included us bystanders in her laughter also.  She basked in the sunlight of his presence.  Their togetherness made even a trip to the supermarket wonderful.

So it is with my partner and me.  We light up each other’s life.

And, here’s the thing; when he was rushed into Intensive Care, barely breathing, I had to consider that he might not be in my life much longer.

My first reaction was: “Then there is no point in living on.”

And then I thought a little further.

My partner is a tremendous fighter, in the most honorable sense of the word.  He is the gentlest, most loving person I’ve ever met and, in his gentle way, he has powered on through difficulties, and ill health that would have destroyed a lesser person.

In his quiet way, he truly loves life.

How do I honor him – and myself – if I do not choose to live, and thereby celebrate his life, and all that we have shared?

If, as I believe – and he does not – the soul is eternal, what would his soul say, one day, to my soul?

How, if I love him as deeply as I do, can I not live up to his stature?

And so, as I gazed into the face of the worst bereavement I will ever have to face, I chose Life.  I vowed to embrace Life.

Clearly, I don’t know what lies ahead.  But I am prepared to trust that I have the power to create a life worth living.

My pain is clean pain.  It does not infect my thinking.  It does not prostrate me.

Contrast that, if you will, with the dirty pain of an abusive relationship.

An abuser tells you, over and over again, that you are worthless.  And you come to believe it.  You come to believe that Life itself is worthless because he tells you, pretty much, that your life is worthless.

You believe him.

And now, I’d like you to pay attention to the irony; the author of your worthless life – or at least the author of your worthless Life belief – leaves or threatens to leave, and you say: “I wish I were dead.”

No! No! NO!

That’s muddle-headed thinking, deliberately brought into being  by a Crazy-Maker.

I’m here to tell you that you have been dead.  You feel as if you’re dead because your world has effectively been dead for so long.

But you’re not dead, anymore than I was in my abusive marriage – and God knows I thought seriously enough about suicide.

You’re just in need of resuscitation.

The way it works is you have to start that process for yourself. Yes, I can help you.  But still, you have to start that process for yourself.  You have to will that process for yourself.

Once you start that process you open yourself up to miracles happening.

I met the most generous-hearted, most loving man ever, and our time together is the most precious gift of my life.  It took a while to meet my partner, certainly, because I took a while to commit to loving myself.

But that love is life-enhancing, not life-destroying.

Your dirty pain, your hopelessness, is a statement of what lies behind, NOT what lies ahead.

But you have to be prepared to believe that.

Update

Since I wrote this, my partner has.made massive strides.  He’s still in the Cardiology Ward, but threatening to teach one of the nurses how to play badminton!!!  (He has his racket and shuttlecocks with him.)  Before too long, once he has Internet access, he may well read what I’m writing.  When I think about that, I feel the temptation to slip back into defensiveness, and the old fear of opening up about what really matters.

I’m not prepared to do that anymore.

An abuser blights our life, certainly.  But, in the end, it is our responsibility to own and honor our feelings.  That may be frightening, but the alternative – which is alienation from our own feeling core –is far more destructive.

Like me, you have mistaken your abusive partner’s view of the world for the world.  The truth is he is not you, and you do not live your life as he does his.

Don’t believe me?

Just think about the difference in the way you both treat people.  Let that difference be the proof that, despite what you may belief, he has NOT polluted your inner core of love and humanity.

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