Wednesday, 30 September 2015
Learning to live with our Scars
Yesterday I spoke to a close friend about my scars, the emotional kind. I don't really do that very often because not many people have the strength to hold that kind of emotional depth. It is painful for me to speak of and I can sense the intensity of emotion in the person I am telling it to. I am grateful that this person can hold the weight of my pain, even if just for a few moments. The fact that someone hears me and doesn't try to 'fix' things is all that I needed. He didn't tell me that everything will be alright, because like me he knows that our emotional and physical suffering never really goes away. We can't escape it, we just have to find ways to live with it.
Of course in the process of our conversation I realised that I had been trying to 'fix' it. My way to fix things was quite typical of anyone feeling hurt. I was pleasure seeking and looking for distractions, my answer was to put myself in the 'doing' role. I have to be doing, rather than being, which is quite laughable as I have spent many years teaching meditation, telling people to find more time to 'be' rather than 'doing'.
The problem of course is that when you have post-traumatic stress disorder, or have been through any personal trauma for that matter, the process of just 'being' is pretty over whelming. You are never really sure what will pop out of the box. But as a Carer I realise that I can't keep 'doing' for forever, I am already exhausted from my daily caring routine, and sooner or later I will collapse if I don't give myself permission to just 'be'. The day after my twins were born I was faced with the prospect of being a parent to one disabled child, it was only a few months and a few surgeries and life threatening infections later that I was dealt the blow of two chidren with disabilities. I was thrown in to the role of new mum, trying to be the best parent I could in exceptional circumstances, and that role of mum soon became nurse and once home the new label of Carer.
There was no time to say goodbye to my oldself, and I won't lie I grieve for the person I once was every day and for the person I thought I was going to be. My faith as a Buddhist tells me that everything is impermanent, change is okay, it normal, but tell that to me 'ego' self who had all these great plans, hopes and dreams. I find my faith and my practice of Nembutsu, 'calling out to Amida Buddha' a great comfort. When I feel helpless I call out 'Namo Amida Butsu' and that process helps me to release something of my grasping self, the part of me that holds on to those mental and physical scars as if they were a punishment. I am starting to begin to change my relationship with those scars, it is a slow process, but if I focus more on the present moment and less on the scars of the past then there is an oppportunity for those scars to start healing.
My daughter taught me that lesson today while I was applying cream to the scars on her torso. As I swept my fingers across the skin I felt the jagged edges of where a scalpel once carved through her tiny body in order to save her life. I find it an uncomfortable reminder of what we once lived through. I had hoped as she grew that some how the scars would fade or become smaller but alas they have not. Today she looked down at her scars as I applied the cream and I explained to her how she got them. 'You were very poorly when you were a baby and a doctor had to cut open your tummy and take out the piece that was poorly. You were sick for a very long time'. She looked at me with those big brown eyes and her beautiful smile and said 'I am a big girl now Mummy'.
In that moment she was present with now, the scars didn't matter, she is here, she is happy, and she is alive. The past does not matter to her; at least not yet, as she is still only five, but for now the scars can be allowed to fade, their rough edges can become a little rounder and softer.
I think if she can look past her own scars, then it is about time I did the same with my own.