I need to share something with you. No, I don’t “Need” to for me…it’s for you. This is not your typical, “Well, this is where I am and it will probably help someone so I’ll throw it out there.” post. No, nor is it made simply for those who like to watch from a human interest perspective amazed at what a life like ours must look like while fearing to God that it might apply to them or someone they love. No, this is something I believe will help everyone understand how important knowledge of emotional needs and the impact truly is to all of us.
Now that I’ve gotten rid of most of the readers it’s just you and I, talking emotional needs and healing. It started like this. Some time after Trey passed (always a pause in how to communicate that) I noticed I began to experience a modicum of anxiety. No, nothing like panic attacks or even debilitating/crippling anxiety based fear…just a noticeable layer of anxiety that I was prior to that/those moment(s) unfamiliar with. I wrote about it and continued, from time to time, to struggle with it.
It manifests itself in very sly ways. Once you hit 40, pretty much no matter who you are, you no longer get a stomach cramp. You get a pain that could indicate the beginning of 20 different diseases. You certainly no longer wonder what you ate that has left you with a slight pain in your upper abs/lower chest, you’re nearly positive that you are, or at least could be having, a heart attack. Even though you knowingly have not kept up with your water intake and your eye just starts to twitch just a little for 2 minutes, you know it’s a stroke. This is just for the average person. Add in the variability of having gone through a traumatic life experience and realization that, “Hey, this really could be something!” and you have a new, to whatever degree heightened, sense of anxiety. Instead of it just being a phone call from someone, it’s a phone call from someone who really has a problem with you. It’s not just a bill, it’s a bill that probably has a mistake and is going to take forever to figure out what’s wrong with it. Instead of things being what they are they are at least the worst possible case scenario and possibly much worse than you could even imagine (you don’t say this out loud or even necessarily in the forefront of your mind…but it’s there).
Now comes my breakthrough and why it matters to you and your situation no matter what your situation is. Lying in bed, doing nothing…noticeably NOT sleeping, I was thinking. I stumbled across the night before Trey passed. He was moving very slowly, had swelling in his chest, and was in a heightened level of pain. Rachel thought we should call the doctor, I “poo poo’d” it. So we did. All they said was to up his pain meds a bit and that it was ok. I was justified…so was Rachel in her own way. Rachel was worried about Trey, I said that this was not that different from a number of nights we had already experienced. Rachel committed to sleeping on the floor next to Trey, I minimized the need for it. I said my goodnight to Trey (as it turns out it was goodbye) and that I loved him (he returned both my goodnight and love to me) and went to bed. Well, the morning brought us the devastating news that he was gone.
Our world obviously changed that morning and fast forwarded in many ways. Now, months later I was laying in bed and realizing, “of course I’m worried that x,y,z could lead to horrific results. Further, the worst thing that has ever happened to me was preceded by me saying that it was fine…it was clearly not ideal, but it was ok. Well, no, no it wasn’t ok…and wouldn’t be.
Here is the key. Just figuring this out and knowing this was not and is not enough. I need to have that pain comforted. By the grace of God alone I was having breakfast that morning with a very good friend. He is somewhat new to my world of emotional needs teaching and the focus on comfort. However, he is very good at comfort and joining (at least me) in my emotions. As I told him about my revelation he began to tear up. “Oh crap” I thought to myself, “I didn’t mean for this to happen…here at Eat n Park” but it did. I was proud of him as he went no further and didn’t let it take him over (which would have been past where I was emotionally and about him, not me, and thus poor emotional responding) he went right where I was and stayed there. I can see his face right now, even as I type this.
Now, over a week later I have only had one moment even resembling anxiety. That anxiety is based on something else and gets put into a completely different category (like, “anxious over something I have to get done and it might just not get done” kind of anxiety not “the worst case scenario is not possible, it’s certain and probably much worse than I thought”). What he did was attach comfort to my pain and in the process help heal that hurt. Remember, “Grief without comfort is pointless…it just hurts.”
I’m not saying that this is all that you need, but you it is much more helpful than you could/would ever imagine. Think of your worst moments, think of someone being there with you sharing that sadness/fear/pain. This is the next best thing and in some ways better. If they were with you in the moments that your pain occurred they very well may be experiencing their own pain. Attaching comfort to your pain is simply for you, not for them. It is healing, it is safe, it is the essence of comfort, it is scientific (studies have shown the unsurpassed effectiveness of emotionally focused therapy and shared experience counseling), it is biblical (Rom 12:15), it is severely misunderstood, poo poo’d, and not utilized nearly enough.
It is for you too and your loved ones.