The National Blog Posting Month prompt from yesterday made me think. It was something like: talk about a trauma you've been through. Of course that question is urging you to talk about something that caused you emotional and spiritual trauma. Everybody is always saying things like, "Emotional wounds can hurt more than physical wounds."
But what about the times they don't?
Have you ever been hurt so bad physically that it destroyed you and changed the ways you saw things?
My c-sections were that thing for me. Recovering from them was full of a pain so pure and focused, it changed the way the world looked from where I stood.
Mamas, please don't hate me for saying so, but the first time I stood up after my first c-section, the first few steps I took afterward... they hurt infinitely more than my 9-10 centimeter contractions.
All I could think was, No. What has this done to me?
After Louise's birth, I woke up in the morning and the morphine was gone. A sweet, clunky nurse in a white cardigan told me that she wanted me to get up and shower this morning. I decided to attack this thing, head on. I decided to get up and moving as soon as I could, before breakfast and pain pills. I wanted to be an overachieving healer.
Standing up was nothing short of exquisite. It was a pain so deliberate and palpable, it erased the existence of everything.
Standing in the hospital bathroom, there was a plastic chair across the room, in the shower. I was going to faint with every step. The pain made me nauseated, I leaned over the toilet as best I could and my stomach heaved involuntarily.
Pain so real and so deep inside of me, it was everything.
The ticking of the heat lamp overhead.
The steam from the shower.
My face was grey in the mirror.
There were purple marks under my eyes.
I couldn't cry. I couldn't expend a moment of focus on anything but surviving this moment. I couldn't talk with any volume. I whispered instructions to my husband because it hurt too badly to project my voice into the air.
Kurt knelt at my feet as I stood gasping and gripping the shower wall. The warmth of the water was soothing. I felt like a baby. I felt like this was the first moment of my life. He only had the clothes he was wearing. He washed my legs for me. I shivered and bit my tongue. Looking down at him with the curtain open, there was a wide puddle of water gathering around him. He was soaking, so gingerly smoothing soap over the sagging surface of my body.
His face upturned, he said Thank You. Thank you for this and I am so sorry.
He doesn't ever cry.
It broke my heart.
From that moment on, he was the person who bathed my feet on the first day of my life. He was kneeling and soaked and his eyes were so blue. Drops of water fell from his eyelashes. Our baby was away with a nurse getting blood tests. He was the only thing that existed because he shared the pain with me, a little bit. He wanted to gut himself with my sorrow and take it.
Maybe nobody thinks to write about physical pain because it's not a secret. Maybe it's because it goes away when the other kinds of pain really don't.