Saturday, November 2, 2013

Paralyzed by Choice

There is an oft quoted sentiment that if we put all of our trials and troubles in a pile and saw what everyone was else was truly going through, we would very quickly retrieve our own back for ourselves rather than trade with anyone else. I can't say that with any certainty. But I do know that I am forever grateful that I am not the one in charge of choosing for myself which trials and tribulations I will go through in this life. I know for certain we will each have our fair share. None of us is spared some measure of sorrow and hard times, of some degree. I don't know how it all works.

I'm sure all of us have thought through that scenario at some point of whether we would rather be deaf or blind. That thought alone has often panicked me. Which would I choose if I had to? To give up music, soaring notes, melodies, harmonies, rhythm, that calming influence, the rousing beats, dancing.... so much of me is in music. So much joy, so much expression, catharsis. To hear people's voices, laughter, rustling woods, water, nature. Would that be my choice?

Or would I give up sight? To be able to look into someones eyes? To see the smiles on my children's faces. The colors of autumn. Sunsets. Trees. Light. I take so many pictures now, I see so many things that I never would have seen before, never would have noticed. Would I be able to give that up? Would I be able to live in a world of darkness?

I don't know.

And now, I have constant pain. And I will admit that it is hard not to compare my struggles sometimes with others' and wonder sometimes, would I rather have theirs than my own? Which would be easier to deal with? I am ashamed sometimes of my thoughts. I am ashamed to admit to them.

 But sometimes I think I would rather have a terminal disease, because then I think at least, at least their pain and suffering will come to an end. Yes, it is horrible and terrible and awful, but at least they and their loved ones know it will soon come to an end. And yet I know they would yearn to trade with me to be able to live another day.

And I think, oh how I would rather have this pain be anywhere, anywhere besides in my head and my face because I just can't think. The face is just so sensitive and when your head hurts, it's just so hard to do anything at all. You can't do ANYTHING without involving your head and thinking. But, I know that's not fair. Because everyone with pain is suffering. And I become insufferable when I think like this.

And sometimes I think I'd rather just be paralyzed and not have pain, then be in pain and be able to move. Because if I were paralyzed and have no pain, at least I could think clearly and be able to use my mind and do something of worth. I could put my mind to good use and be a functioning, serving and contributing member of this world, instead of a writhing whimpering thing in constant pain in bed that everyone has to avoid almost 24 hrs a day.  Instead of not being able to do anything.  And yet I know they would trade just about anything to be able to move and not be imprisoned in their own bodies.

I don't know.

But you see, I don't make the choices. I didn't choose this. They don't choose their trials. It must be better that way. I think if we looked at the whole pile of everything that everyone is suffering we might be paralyzed by all the choices sometimes. We might be tempted by some of them, like how can I possible know how it would feel to me to be deaf or blind? Which will be better for me? Which would I really rather be? Which would I be able to endure?  And when I am in the middle of it, how will I possibly be able to bear the weight of it? To say to myself, this isn't what I wanted, I want the other one back now.  But no. There is no choice.

So I am glad I am not the one making those choices. My choice is how to get through this. Sometimes that doesn't even feel like as much of a choice as I once thought. It's like when people are in a crisis situation, they don't often think to react in the ways you expect that they might. They sometimes do bizarre instinctual reactive responses. It's not all conscious choice. So I go into survival mode, fight, flight or freeze. But I get through.  My choice is to wake up and get through.  That is what I do.


Ashley said...

Kristen, you are my hero. Jason and I have said similar things to those in this blog, especially when my pain was a LOT worse. We asked ourselves, "Would it simply be better for this to be short-lived and terminal? And it's a terrible thought, but it's an honest thought, and one that never had evil intentions on the part of Jason and me. Also, "What would I endure to not have to endure THIS?"

I would NOT have chosen my pain if the Lord would have given me my choice, but my selfish (or maybe smart) side would have longed for the lessons learned and the callouses formed to help me endure to the end and hold my head up in joy of the strength I had found.

Hold your head up, Kristen. You're stronger than the rest of us, and that's something the Lord wants you to be proud of. You've accomplished a LOT just by going through a LOT and not giving up, or giving in, or whatever the alternative would be to just going through.

Anonymous said...

A perspective I have not actually considered with my chronic pain... I do related most to fight, flight or freeze... that is me React 1st deal with damage control 2nd. Thank you for sharing what some would consider private and personal thoughts best kept to ones self... but it is so much better to share as we all think these thoughts, just don't know whether we should admit it or not.

Kamp Kyburz said...

Beautiful post. Beautiful. I am amazed at your ability to think clearly enough through all of the pain, for long enough, to construct such a statement of truth. Thank you for teaching me.

debbie gilroy said...

I thought the exact same thing when my face pain was so bad I wanted to die. I thought I was the only one that felt that way.

Mr. Sessions said...


Your honesty is moving. I have had 20 plus years of chronic pain and several years of disability related to medical issues. Mine was but a drop in your overflowing bucket of pain, guilt, and debilitation. Spencer W. Kimball quoted a poem on pain which he knew very well that for me puts pain into some perspective. I pray for your relief often. Laird

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