Feels Like The First Time
After the birth of my son, I sat in the hospital bed feeling the aftermath pain and discomfort that made moving difficult. Watching a woman with whom I shared the room move around without any difficulty after giving birth to her 4th or 5th child, I asked, “how do you do it?” Her response has remained with me all these years. “The pain is so intense that your brain blocks it out and you can not remember it until it happens again. If you could remember it, you would never do it again”.
Only by forgetting the pain I have been able to run again a marathon. I have forgotten the pain of the last miles once I have crossed the finish line only to ask myself why am I here again? the next time. Each time the pain has felt brand new.
Likewise, years ago, still very young and feeling for the first time the despair of a break up, I asked an older man I had befriended if he had ever been in love. With no hesitation he replied “at least a half dozen times”. How, I wondered could a person subject themselves to what I was feeling more than once? The pressure in my chest that made it difficult to breath, the nights laying awake. The hours sitting by the phone waiting for a call that didn’t come. His answer again had the same wisdom as the one given by the woman in the hospital years later; “each time the joy it gives me makes it worth it to go through it again”.
Eventually, I felt that agony of a break up again. The sleepless nights drained from crying, the unrelenting ache. The pressure that made it difficult to breath was real once again. The ache felt more intense than any other I had ever felt before.
It felt brand new.
Now, in the immaturity of my years, I handle fear in a similar way. Each time that I come face to face with it, it seems new and stronger than the one before. I can’t remember how bad it was before, it does not get easier and I don’t handle it better.
Pain and fear don’t get better with practice. Each time the agony of each feels brand new. Like the experienced mother said, only blocking its intensity from our memory we can recharge our strength to face it again…if we have to.
Until that next marathon, that next break up or that next fear, it will feel like the very first time.
3 years ago