The Solidarity of Our Pain

“We each are suffering our own individual train wrecks, but when stepping back you see they are all, indeed, train wrecks and many common themes. ” –  Sarah, affair survivor

Have you ever felt such pain?  I don’t care if you are a waitress, a doctor or a customer service rep. Pain is pain and it is the great equalizer, isn’t it?

I remember lying in labor and delivery.  There were a couple of young women in other rooms and one of them broke into sobs and began to wail for her mother.  The dam broke and the other one began to cry.  It was positively unnerving, the hopelessness in their pain. Like I said, pain? Equalizer.

My nurse came in and I, not “officially” in labor because we were trying to stop my pre-term contractions, asked her,

“Tell me something. Do the doctors and nurses lose it when they have their babies?”

“No,” she said.

“They don’t?”

“No,” she said again. “If a patient is a doctor, nurse, lawyer or married to one, they are offered an epidural as a professional courtesy.”

My nurse gave me a look which told me she did not approve of the practice of offering such a privilege.

“I am calling Barbara Walters,” I said. “Where can I get her number?”

The fact that this conspiracy even existed drives my point home. There is no escaping pain and we all feel it as intensely as another woman, no matter who she is or what she does. The only thing making the difference is what kind of painkillers are available to you and I’m sorry: an epidural may help during childbirth, but there is nothing, and I mean nothing to dull the gut-wrenching, soul-shredding, heart-pounding kind of pain of knowing that the man you love and trusted turned to someone else. Period. It makes the details fade into the background.

Betrayal is betrayal is betrayal.  Grief is grief.  When my mother died, I remember feeling like I was walking around with a ragged, gaping, bloody cannon hole through my middle.  I was a mess and the worst thing?  Everything went on around me as though nothing had happened.  It was positively surreal.  I felt much the same way after the affair.  It felt like the suffering was emitting or radiating from my body in all directions and everyone around me should be dropping from its power.  I felt robotic and every face I looked into, I wanted to tell,

“My husband had an affair.”  Like I was a Roomba bouncing off walls, every fresh contact compelled me to say,

“My husband had an affair.”

I was concerned that the inadvisability of blurting this out to everyone I saw and my attempts to quell it would result in my freaking out, melting down, rolling around and frothing at the mouth, so I stopped going out.  My friend Jeannie said,

“Come anyway.  We all haven’t ever had that much fun at a meeting.”

She made me laugh, on the inside, anyway and it made me want to call her a *itch for breaking through my fog. In a way, this demonstrated a glimmer of hope.  As much as pain had enveloped me and I embraced it back, maybe?  If she could move that pain out of me for 10 seconds?  The important part was that the pain could be moved. I had no idea how to make that happen, but there was proof, positive.

We are different, but we feel the same.

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