I was listening to my friend Nancy talk about her pain and how bad it was. The longer she talked the more upset she became and the more upset she became the more she added into the mix.
A lot of it was happening in the here and now: "My mother went to the store and never even bothered to ask me if I needed anything. She knows how much pain I am in. How could she?" The people she needed to help her seemed to be clueless and uncaring.
Then she thought about other times she had been in pain and needed help. "Remember when I sprained my ankle that time a few years back, she didn't even ask if I wanted her to come to the ER with me."
That took her back even further. "And remember how my aunt didn't even bother to call me when I had my appendix out when I was 12?" The more she recalled the more intense her anger, despair, and even pain, became.
Her tumble down memory lane was all too familiar to me. How many times has the pain been bad or I felt slighted because someone I thought should have been considerate of my situation was not, whose behavior has helped to make the physical pain worse (by insisting for instance that a tablecandle stay lit despite knowing the movement and brightness of the flame inflames my pain). And how many other instances of hurt, throughout my life, then crowd my thoughts?
What kind of siblings are they? How could they have never been there for me, not even once, not even a card or a phone call? Never mind that the last surgery was more then 12 years ago and the first slight by them over 33 years, no, even way before then, before the pain started. The psychic pain of no one being there for me for the surgeries, of acknowledging and believing the pain, usually tops the list of my litany of hurts. My mind becomes populated with people from now, people from then, people from decades ago, instances where my feelings were not just hurt but torn apart, trampled, and thrown away.
Pain and hurt beget pain and hurt, the despair and upset of today the rock that gathers more and more weight as it rolls down, through memory and recesses of mind.
"Wait a minute, Nancy." I say to her, really talking to myself. "Thinking about all this from other days and even years ago is of no help. All it does is make it harder to pull yourself out of feeling the way you do. You need to deal with the issue that is on the table now, not all the ones you have experienced throughout your life."
Closing down the feelings is never a good idea, it is a terrible way of dealing with our experiences (disclosure - I am a master at doing this) but there is a saying "you need to pick your battles".
Even when the battle is with ourselves/with the pain, we need to pick and choose - to put those that are not a part of the here and now into a mental box, ready to be dealt with when we are not so embroiled, emotionally and physically, with the pain.