June 13, 2022 by clearymf

Is Our Pain “Worthy?”

I found out this week that my company didn’t receive an award. We worked very hard for it; I even shelled out a substantial amount of money (for me) to produce a video for our submission. It was first-rate and I thought our chances were good – even great. So I fell down from a very high
mountain when we lost.

It was painful. We really could have used the recognition that award would have brought because we are a micro-business that needs exposure. I could have benefitted personally because I work mainly by myself and it would have been a real shot in the arm. But none of this happened and I was left wondering how to handle it.

After the initial disappointment, my next response was to tell myself that other people have much bigger problems than I do. “What about the people in the Ukraine?” I would ask myself. “The families whose children were shot? Those with terminal cancer?” I could go on – and I did.

No matter what happens, I try to convince myself that I really don’t deserve to feel bad or hurt or sad because there are so many who are worse off than I. I was listening to a podcast the other day where a politician who was badly betrayed by his colleagues was explaining his hurt, so
deep that he went into a year-long depression. But then he tried to dismiss it, saying that his problems didn’t compare to those that others in the world were experiencing.

But here’s the thing: he deserved to mourn his trauma because it was HIS, it was real and it was profound. We can’t judge what will send others into a spiral. We can’t compare our pain to theirs and say that they deserve to feel bad and we don’t. Our pain is our pain. And we need to own it and accept that we can grieve it without guilt.

Let’s be honest – having a child with a disability is a great disappointment. Yes, every child is a gift. Yes, our children bring us unanticipated blessings. But a big part of the experience is pain – often pain that we didn’t anticipate. Many of us don’t own that pain completely because we
know we are blessed to have a child at all, that we have had new doors opened to us because of it, that we have grown spiritually and intellectually through this experience.

But it is still pain. We want our children to be like the others. And we want to enjoy what other parents enjoy. So we find ways to cope, and one of them is to “excuse” our pain away. I’d like to propose that this is not healthy for us because it just gives us another reason to beat ourselves up. Yes, we are sad, disappointed, mad, hurt, depressed and a host of other things. And yes, we are allowed to feel that way, despite whatever problems anyone else is having. And we shouldn’t demean it by calling it a “pity-party.” These are genuine feelings and they’re ours.

As an old song says, we’ll eventually “pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again.” But let’s give ourselves a minute, a week or however long it takes to be sad and know that we’re OK to feel that way.

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