The hurt and the hurdle
Pain sucks. Physical or emotional, pain sticks with you longer than you would like. It’s also kind of magical. Like a David Copperfield trick, it can be as real as a coin that you hold in your hand. Then just as suddenly, it goes away, only to reappear when you least expect it.
Pain doesn’t seem to have a face but it’s heart, although shattered, is as big as anything you can imagine. At its worst, it takes down even the the strongest of wills. And it has friends. Hate, anger, depression, doubt and sadness to name a few. Sometimes they all hang out together and sometimes it’s just you and a couple of these magical enemies.
We have all experienced pain recently. Whether it’s something as simple as not being able to take the vacation that was planned due to COVID or it may be bigger. Job loss, divorce, death of a loved one, or a sick child. The list of opportunities for pain are endless but uniquely, no one has been immune from some sort of pain during this last year.
This is what I have called in my head “the hurt and the hurdle”. The hurt is one or all of the examples that I mentioned. Or it could be different. A friend that has stopped reaching out and you wonder what you did wrong. A painful breakup with the one that you thought would be your forever person. Not getting that promotion that you worked so hard for. The reasons for the hurt are endless. Sometimes others can see it as plain as day. Or sometimes it’s a hurt that only you know. You lost a baby. Again. You can’t get pregnant and you’re tired of the endless fertility treatments followed by the innocent but oh, so painful questions from others that don’t know what you’re going through. Whatever the hurt is, you have to clear the hurdle.
What is the hurdle, you may ask? It’s your navigational mode around the hurt. It could be the reason you get out of bed or the reason that you stay in bed. It’s perhaps the conjured response to someone’s innocent inquiry of “How’s it going?”.
The hurdle may be the reason that you try again after the hurt. Sometimes, if hurt is in hiding, you can fly right over the hurdle. Let’s say that you didn’t get the last job that you interviewed for. That’s ok. Let’s try again. So, you jump that hurdle like an Olympic track star. You submit your resume, you work with the recruiter, and you think you aced the interview. The first hurdle after the pain of not getting the other job that you wanted was easy.
Then pain reappears. You don’t get the job. They decide to go with someone else. Ouch. Yet, this time, the pain doesn’t feel the same. This time, you’re angry. You think back and wonder what you did wrong. Ah, yes. This time, it’s not just pain that comes for the visit. It brought along a little friend named doubt. Doubt is a sneaky little guy, especially to those that are used to succeeding.
Sometimes we don’t even know that doubt has shown up. This hurdle is bigger because it’s a relationship that is between you and YOUR doubt. You may overthink the issue. Wonder what you did or said wrong. To overcome this second hurdle of hurt, you have to smarter and stronger.
It’s ok to question what went wrong.
For example, did you pull a “Chandler” from Friends and laugh when the interviewer said “duty” because all you could picture in your head was a pile of “Dooty”? Awkward and uncomfortable humor will also pop up at the most inconvenient times and that’s ok.
Or maybe you blanked when someone asked you a question about your strengths and weaknesses. I hate this interview question, by the way. Almost as much as a benign question like “If you could be any fruit, what would it be and why?”. In my opinion, who in the hell sits and thinks about what kind of fruit they would like to be, let alone WHY they would want to be that fruit. I digress. Yet, I am inserting a bit of humor here to also help.
See, the hurdles of hurt can be, and sometimes are, endless. There is no magic solution but just as we navigate around a traffic jam in the road, we have to find a solution.
It may be laughter, a good hearty cry (or scream), a long walk, or lots of deep breathes. I literally just had a hurdle moment as I prepared to write this today. Let me explain.
I couldn’t sleep last night, as is usual for me over the last year. However, I didn’t feel this sleepless night coming on. Lately, I have been able to predict them a bit. I was actually quite calm before bed last night. I was able to have a lengthy cuddle with my favorite feline, Lola. This normally helps me sleep.
I had just put the kiddos to bed and she was following me like a jumpy little shadow. She was telling me what she needed which was a cuddle with her human. I skipped the long face wash routine and had every intention of going downstairs for a late night glass of wine before heading to bed. She would not have it. We quickly settled on the bed, under our favorite blanket, and she nestled in for her long winter’s sleep on my lap. She laid there for about two hours while I wrote and watched a show. Before I knew it, my bedtime had arrived. She looked up at me with sweet little eyes as I adjusted to lay down to go to sleep and I suddenly felt thankful.
See, at this point, she had given me what I also needed - a quiet place to just be, sitting under a warm, soft blanket, and listening to her little purrs and snores while she slept. I thought I needed a glass of wine to calm what had been stirring in my head for the last couple of days. So, as she peered up at me with those big, adorable eyes, I told her “Thank you for saving me tonight. You gave me what I needed instead of what I thought I needed.”
The glass of wine would have calmed my mind but only temporarily. It would be a vice that kept me from the true hurdle that I needed to overcome - me. So, instead, I wrote. This is something that calms me and makes me able to think a little more clearly. I went to sleep last night in a peaceful state, ready to rest.
Plot twist. My mind, and the hurdle, had other intentions. I woke about two hours later with my mind racing in a zillion different directions. Worries filled the room and my sense of calm was gone. Ah, worry. Another friend of pain. It never hits you at 2pm on a Thursday. It’s typically at 3am, before a big meeting or an important situation where you need to feel your best.
Here’s what I know about worry. It’s like a wave on the ocean. It comes in big and we all know how to ride the big part of this wave. We jump on top of it. We just have to see what it has to say. Typically, worry brings along doubt, fear, and sadness. That’s a lot of stuff to carry along with you while you ride this wave. Any surfer will tell you, a heavier load will knock you off balance and you will fall.
Ouch. More hurt and you don’t clear this hurdle when you fall.
So what do you do? What did I do? Well, last night, I didn’t handle my worry very well. I paced. And worried. I sat. And feared the future. I had a snack. And got a little angry. I played a game on my phone. And, well, fell off my surfboard. I let the waves of hurdles get higher in front of me. I allowed hurt and its many friends to invade my head and cloud what I was trying to figure out. Needless to say, I didn’t get back to sleep until well after 4am. I’m tired today.
I woke a little startled because one of my kiddos wanted to see if I was ok. I turned the morning routine over to my husband so I could get another hour or so of sleep. This put me in recovery mode. Immediately tackle the first hurdle -get your ass out of bed. Next, what is bothering me? How do I identify this so that I can move forward with my day, my family, and jump this damn hurdle?
I went to my personal toolbox, if you will:
1.) I took a deep breathe. Just a moment to sort of center myself.
2.) I had a drink of water. This is new for me but I swear it helps to wake up my mind.
3.) I stretched. Just for a moment while my coffee was brewing. I could feel how tight my muscles were, strained from the worry that had kept me awake.
4.) I took another deep breathe.
5.) I moved on with my day. This includes writing this to you, and a little surprise at the end.
All of this probably took 10 minutes out of my already late morning. I am still not out of the woods from my worry and not sure how long this friend is going to stick around. Yet, this is what I do know:
I am ok.
NO ONE IS WITHOUT WORRY. EVER. The gift that just keeps on giving, I suppose.
This tells me that I am not alone.
I am learning as I go.
Life is a lesson. So, am I going to pay attention and learn or just let those lessons pass me by?
I have decided that I want to learn. So, I’ll keep jumping those hurdles. Even if it takes me a few times.
I am far from perfect (does that even exist?) nor do I have all of the answers. But it doesn’t stop me from trying to find out what those answers are. I hope this helps you just a little bit with your own hurt and hurdles.
Oh, and the little surprise that I mentioned in my personal toolbox? Let me share what a dear friend of mine sent out via text this morning as I sat down to write this:
See. You’re not alone. We all feel this. Keep going across this bridge and clear those hurdles of hurt.
Till next time -