She’s Up, She’s Down: Learning to Love the Ride by Tracy Morris

It’s not a popular stance, I know. The one where people say things like “You’ll get over it in time.” I won’t even bother with the rest of the drivel that flows your way in times of loss and recuperation.

I’m fond of saying that my many losses directed me to Buddhism. It’s true, but those four miscarriages weren’t the only things that pointed in the direction of a religion that starts with “Life is suffering.”

I needed to hear that position. I needed the validation it provided. I was bone-tired of the ongoing, seemingly endless emotional upheaval from “Yay! We’re pregnant!” to “Why can’t we hear the heartbeat?”

It wasn’t just the pain. It was the ever-lasting nature of it. My then-husband and I thought about others’ lives as if they were straight out of “It’s a Wonderful Life” when ours clearly was not. It was that day-in-day-out sense of struggling just to put one foot in front of another. Then there was the clincher: how could we presume it was right to keep trying to bring a child into this miserable existence of ours? At some point, the misery far outweighed any positive value, yet still we tried.

I had to look hard at that. Reading through simplified Buddhist literature, I saw that this amusement park had become something I clung to, desperately. My life had become a steady search for the “We’re Pregnant Again” high, and just as with addicting chemicals, the highs were no longer very entertaining. The roller coaster had become a treadmill, complete with whatever mind games I could play with myself to numb the emotions and silence the thoughts.

In this piece by Sharon Salzberg [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sharon-salzberg/sorrow-resilience-human-spirit_b_810425.html] on Huffington Post, she talks about resiliency in the face of loss. She says we find it through connection, commonly. My experience is that we can find it within, too, so that connection doesn’t always mean to ‘another’.

Contrary to the way “Life is suffering” sounds to some, it was a relief to me. It was the bottom line. From there, life could only build upward. As Salzberg says, coming back to resiliency has to start at the point of realizing we must.

Life isn’t better or worse now. There is still pain and suffering. Only a fool would dare try to measure painful events and compare them. Pain at the time is just that: pain. I learned the difference between pain and suffering, a very crucial key to me.

Rather than using the roller coaster metaphor, which makes me feel so out of control, I transformed my mind’s images to something I find soothing — water, and specifically ocean waves. They are constant, as is pain in life. They approach, roll, break, and then dissipate, as do painful events. They are made of life-giving substance. So is pain.

I visualize how my life’s painful events are the ocean that I ride on a beautiful surfboard. That’s not to imply I always glide over smoothly. Sometimes I misstep and fall in, but the board is tethered to me and I climb back on. I know that I won’t reach the shore on this ride, as the waves will never stop. I am now adept at the ride, and I am grateful that I’ve stayed on board.

 

Author Bio:

Tracy Morris is a mom (since ’99) with the audacity to try and make a living as a writer (since ’97). She knows how lucky she is and writes about it at http://trailerparkkarma.com/, among other places.

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