Sharing The Hurt and Pain Index of Life: October 2015

You hurt when your child is hurting
You hurt when your child is hurting

Recently, I got an interesting comment on my Facebook page, “Are you ever unhappy or do you not take pictures at those times?” Pray Tell Zain Mahmood”

I am surprised and a bit taken aback, by this comment.

Since this is from someone who went to middle-school with me, about 35 years ago, and we haven’t stayed in touch, it’s difficult to decipher the motive.

And neither does it matter. This odd comment, makes me think.

I realize that, I am not really accustomed to, nor am I trained to express my frustrations, pain or anger in public.

I know how to smile wide, and accept whatever comes to me.

When I am frustrated, angry or hurt, I go for a long walk, or just take a nap. I don’t numb with food, alcohol or rage. Most difficulties, I have found, look and feel different, after a good nap.

In the midst of crisis, I reserve my emotions aside, and assume the role of a risk and project manager;  I look for every inevitable possibility, of things that could go wrong, and try to mitigate the risk.  This creates an interesting situation, where people perceive me as an emotion-free robot. I leave my grieving for later. And in private.

Recently, I experienced pain, anguish and frustration, all at once.

One morning, At 5 am, I get a call from a nurse, telling me that Daiyaan, my 20-year-old, is being taken to the ICU for observation, because her heart rate is unusually high.

My mind goes on overdrive, arranging logistics for Shania (my 10-year-old), and my travel arrangements to get to Daiyaan quickly, all the while, talking to her physicians and friends, and monitoring her condition.

At this juncture, I see no point of howling with pain or questioning the Universe about why my child is suffering.

After all logistics are complete, and I believe I have the necessary actions in motion, I  say a silent Universal prayer: to have the strength and ability, to handle this sudden and grave adversity, and do what is required of me: stand up and be a Dad.

The pain and loss one feels in a situation like this, is tough to describe.

One has to surrender to the vulnerability that surrounds us at every minute. This is not just my anguish;  I know every parent feels this, when they know their child is unwell.

I have felt the same anguish, as I saw my father pass away in front of me, and still feel it, as I watch my strong and athletic mother, lie in bed, unable to move freely.

About 5 years ago, I felt the same way, when my beautiful marriage of 15 years, collapsed in front of my eyes; I blogged about the emotions I felt at that time: Jumping into a Meandering River.

Every time, I feel I am surrounded by opaque walls; its like watching a bad movie, in slow motion, that I am a playing a role in. I have no idea, what’s behind those walls, and who I will become, when clarity returns.

I know, something inside me is churning and changing, at that very moment. Even though, I may want everything to remain constant.

During these moments, there are two things that help me stay focused.

First, I think of one happy memory, with the person who maybe hurting – this allows me to project into the future, and think about the possibility of more happy times and remain grounded.

Second, I imagine my particular safe place at my home, a quiet, simple and serene room, with zen music, and the smell of eucalyptus.  It’s that place I feel safe, and look to go back to go, whenever the chaos ends. I can feel Shania’s deep hug, and that same sensation, when I gently kiss Daiyaan’s forehead.

I am not sure why my inconsequential friend wanted me to journal my hurt, pain and anxiety on a public bulletin board. I have never understood, nor have I been trained to share my darkness; If you believe in Newton’s Third Law, Every Action has an Equal and Opposite Reaction – I can say, every light has a shadow.

I will need a whole different Facebook, to learn to share my pain, anguish and sadness.

For now, I am comfortable, sharing my sunshine. God knows, everyone has dark moments.

My Sunshine
My Sunshine

6 thoughts on “Sharing The Hurt and Pain Index of Life: October 2015

  1. Zain, beautifully said. There is no reason for you to share anything in public forum that you deem unnecessary. I have found that I can share my pain and my happiness with anyone and with ease. However, that has taught me a valuable lesson – not everyone is interested in your journey through the darkness. Please keep on doing what makes you happy and we will continue to walk together on this path with you!

  2. Well said Zain. I’ve never been a fan of Facebook or any other ‘social media’. Mainly because too many people do air their pain, a.k.a. dirty laundry, in public view. And then there seems to be the socially excepted pressure to share as they have shared. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for keeping your pain, feelings, emotions under wraps. But I am advocating for exactly what you’re talking about. Prioritizing in moments of crisis, deciding what needs to get done, taking those actions, and fall apart later in a place where you feel safe and with people who love & support you. That’s how I have handled the tragedies in my life. It had it not been for close friends and loving family there many times and I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through to the next day. But it’s not something that I feel should be published. And I don’t feel it’s anyone’s else’s business. And to answer that person’s question, when I am in a crisis in my life, I am too focused on maneuvering through that crisis successfully to even think about pictures.

  3. A beautifully written post, but I can’t say I agree. The “grin and bear it” approach to life is one of the main reasons people feel so cut off from each other. Reflecting only carefully curated impressions of ourselves, in order to avoid appearing weak, is the hallmark of a compartmentalized life. There’s an inherent message in “grinning and bearing it”: I won’t make you uncomfortable with my pain, if you keep yours to yourself too. Please hide that mess! This is how stigmas around pain or illness arise.

    In all other areas of our lives, we are encouraged to share. We share our financial and career successes. We share our family joys, marriage and birth. We share our the delight a meal or a glass of wine has brought us. But when it comes to pain or fear? Deal with it in a dark room with the door closed. Shun others when they appear weak or in pain. Hide. Pretend.

    1. Matthew: thanks for your candid thoughts. I am open to sharing pain and grief with a handful of people, not on a bulletin board. It maybe compartmentalized but I am not (yet) ready for such public display of broad emotions. Social media is a place for chitchat. Rarely has it been a place for deep reflection (for me). Or maybe I haven’t learned to express myself in today’s blurred lines of social media and life itself! 😃 thanks again..keep commenting!

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