There’s a quote from a recent Doctor Who episode that resonates for me (the writing is dang good this season, just sayin) –
Pain is a gift. Without the capacity for pain we can’t feel the hurt we inflict.
To me, this quote is about empathy. Without our own memories of pain we wouldn’t be able to appreciate or understand the way others behave when they are in pain.
I’m thinking about all this because today is an anniversary. I didn’t think, at the time, that it would be as big of an anniversary as it is. At the time, I figured it would simply be a memory of one moment. And it is that – it’s the date I had emergency surgery on a (literally) dark and stormy night. Which was scary and sad.
Turns out, though, that the day wasn’t just a day of loss. It was the beginning of being barren. It wasn’t until several years later that I could fully appreciate that day, as sad and low as it was, was something to be cherished. It was the last day I was ever “able” to carry a child.
So, obviously, painful. But not even close to as painful now as it was seven years ago. These days it’s more of a distant ache, more a memory of pain than pain itself.
And the thing that I’ve really been marinating on is how it made me (I think) a better person. Healing from the immediate pain and then the extended loss took a lot of time and mental energy. One of the things it did was shift my perspective, in a good way.
There’s a lot more room in my head for grace and different opinions than there once was. When people behave strangely or poorly, my first thought is to wonder what they’re dealing with. I am not nearly as judgmental as I once was.
Basically, my perspective has widened. My own pain affected me in ways I never expected, so now I often assume that others are dealing with the same kind of surprising, disconcerting changes that come along with their own pain.
That’s a good thing, I think, and prevents me from being a total ass to those who seem to be struggling with things I know nothing about.
I’m better to others (because of pain).
That is a gift.