About Pain
Mar 19 2010

Some of you may have been wondering why I took such an extended blogging break and why I’ve been so spotty in the times between posting.  I thought quite some time about posting this, but then I thought I might never reach my potential as a writer or even as a human being if I don’t throw caution to the wind and risk offending or for that matter validating/pleasing others.   Plus I thought that if it helps one person or helps someone think differently even if just for a nanosecond, then it would have been worth it.  Some of you may recall I wrote About Laughter, About Sleep, About Writing and About Car Paint.  This post is About Pain.

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There’s physical pain and then there’s emotional, mental, and spiritual pain.  Most of us have experienced all different kinds in life.  The worst physical pain in my life came as a result of breastfeeding my son over 7 1/2 years ago now.  I developed an infection that hurt so bad I couldn’t sleep and if I was able to nod off, I would wake up with tears in my eyes.  I remember thinking “I want to die right now, but I can’t because I must feed my baby.”  I was determined to breastfeed him no matter how many people said I should give up.  I have never wished to die before or since.  I have wished to be waited on hand & foot while laying in a hammock on a beach drinking a pina colada and having my feet massaged, so if that’s what happens after death, I’m all in!  Thankfully the maternal instinct is so strong, and we live in a day & age where antibiotics are available that in a few excruciating weeks the pain was gone. But I still occasionally have memory pain that has diminished over time.

But emotional, mental, and spiritual pain seems to last much longer (unless you have chronic physical pain which probably exacerbates the emotional kind as well).  And unfortunately, a week of antibiotics doesn’t cure this kind of pain.  This kind of pain can start from childhood and stick with you…flaring up at various times in your life when things trigger your deep seated fears and emotional memories.  There’s a theory that you are often attracted to people that have some of the same traits as people in your family did growing up because it’s a known/comfortable pattern.  The theory continues that down deep, you want to resolve some of the pain that you as a child were never able to resolve, see your parents resolve, or resolve with your parents.  This theory is outlined in a book called Intimate Partners: Patterns in Love and Marriage (Amazon Link), and I read it before I got married, but I didn’t really get it until now because I didn’t know what those patterns were until I was immersed in it as an adult and mother.

What happens when someone in a marriage (with kids) finally realizes that the pattern is not resolvable or they don’t know how to, don’t want to, or can’t resolve it?  They suffer or get divorced and the pain is horrid.  Especially the pain you feel for the kids as you imagine the pain they might feel.  I lived through a divorce myself as a child and was often caught in the middle of a lot of bitterness and anger, and I have relived that pain for my kids even though it’s a completely different situation and their dad is a very good, involved father.

What’s even harder is when you are both good people that happened to have a lot of unexpected crap happen throughout the marriage.  You wonder what is wrong with you.  When in most cases, there is really nothing wrong with you, but you look back and realize that neither of you knew how to nurture a marriage or you didn’t see or understand the signs that should have been big clues that something huge needed to fundamentally change in each of you.  It’s like you both have blinders on until suddenly one of you takes them off and doesn’t like what they see, don’t see, feel, or don’t feel.  Marriage, like life, does not come with an instruction manual and even if it did everyone is so different it would be hard to apply to your unique marriage and you would think you could wing it or that it didn’t apply to you.  There are more instructions around a divorce which requires a signed agreement between the two of you outlining your responsibilities than there is before a marriage.

So, yes I just got divorced after what was probably close to a year of being separated mentally, if not physically.  This past year is somewhat of a blur.  It’s the hardest emotional, mental, and spiritual pain I’ve ever experienced and unfortunately there are no legal drugs I can take to make the pain disappear in a few weeks.  Despite the fact that 50%-60% of marriages end up in divorce, it is the 2nd most stress inducing event anyone can experience behind death of a loved one.  And it doesn’t really matter if you are the one leaving, the one being left, or it’s mutual.  Mix divorce with unusual work dynamics, kids, and other personal issues and you have a recipe for a potential breakdown.  Fortunately, I am very lucky/blessed to have wonderful friends, co-workers, family friends, and family who have supported me and let me cry on the phone, on email (yes, it’s possible to cry on email) or in front of them and repeatedly (until I’m sure they were sick of it) told me that everything will be OK.  They let me say and write stupid (although sometimes funny) things and were kind anyway.  I have never felt so out of control in my life!  I mean I’ve gone months without reconciling my check book, was late on a couple of house payments, and my house (although overall neat) more disorganized than I’d like.  Plus a whole shit load of other emotional stuff.

I’m still a ways away from being back to normal whatever that is, but we both love the kids immensely and right now we can’t foresee not being friends and friendly for their sakes.  From my perspective, we both still respect each other and as hard as this has been, we’ve both taken the high road because that’s the kind of people we are, and we know it’s best for the kids.  A child counselor told us it was obvious we loved the kids and they loved us.  She also said that they got along so well with each other, were exhibiting normal behavior for going through what they were going through, and seemed happy despite what they were experiencing which of course took off about 80% of my maternal guilt.   I did a post back in September 2009, called Double The Trouble, Double The Fun which stemmed from me feeling glad they had each other during this hard time their parents were going through.  I felt that I/we had done at least one thing right by giving them the gift of each other to weather storms that life will inevitably bring them.

So now you know why I had such a long break from writing on the blog.  My personal life started to bleed into the blog, and I needed to get a handle on things for a little while.  I think back to that Entrepreneurial Ledge where I stood almost a year and a half ago.  When your sleeping heart wakes up suddenly, it’s a very disorientating, scary feeling.  It’s like gasping for air while at the same time trying to soak in all the colors, beauty, sounds, smells, shapes, feelings that you have not noticed/felt for years.  You start falling in love with life again and it seems that pain is a part of love.  You unknowingly/desperately reach out to people, anyone kind nearby to help ease this searing pain. In the case of some friends and family, they are there for you in ways you never imagined.  In the case of others, they can’t or don’t know how to be there like you want/need them to be and it exacerbates and magnifies the pain.  You start to realize that you are really reaching out to your lost self and the only one who can save you from drowning is YOU.  Then you start the process of excruciatingly, slowly mending a broken heart and falling in love with yourself…and you wonder why and when you fell out of love in the first place.

Thank you for reading.

About the photo:  The photo above is of a piece of art that my cousin, who goes by the pseudonym of Isaac Falconer, made for me when I told her I was getting a divorce.  I didn’t get to see her that often growing up.  She is a unique, vibrant, passionate individual.  She has followed her own path and seems to have found happiness in doing so as well as people who appreciate and buy her art!  She has even exhibited in Italy.  The piece is called No Pleasure Garden (c) 2009 and it’s made of Chantilly lace from Italy with hand made hypo allergenic orchids affixed to two locations on the huge piece of lace.  In her words, “It’s meant to be placed across the bottom of your bed as a reminder to you of YOUR personal glory – which has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with your life-mate or your kids or your professional work.“  It looks so lovely at the bottom of my bed and makes me smile when I enter the room.

Author: | Filed under: blogging, breastfeeding, father, marriage, mother, parenting | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments »

Business Is Like War; Easy To Begin But Hard To Stop
Nov 2 2008

The title of this post was inspired by a fortune cookie fortune.  For those of you who are new readers, I did some posts a while back using fortunes from fortune cookies as blog titles.  I thought this one was particularly appropriate given how challenging entrepreneurship can be and given the state of our economy.  But here’s the interesting part, the fortune cookie actually read: “Love is like war; easy to begin but hard to stop.” 

I felt myself nodding knowingly inside when I read it.  How true it is in relation to both Love and Business.  How relatively easy it can be to start a business or fall in love.  We tell ourselves, it’s just an idea/romantic feeling…let’s see where it goes.  One thing after another happens and if you don’t chicken out (or the playing field of potential significant others or stable jobs doesn’t pull you away), you find yourself: 

Business Love
   
Exploring ideas Dating
Incorporating your business Being in a committed relationship
Raising funds Getting engaged
Hiring people Getting married
Raising more funds Buying a house
Releasing new products Having kids
Hiring more people Hiring domestic help or losing your mind
Taking longer to break even Taking longer to adjust to life with kids
Laying off people Hiring a marriage counselor
Feeling an air of desperation Experiencing a mid-life crisis
Closing up shop or going bankrupt Getting a divorce
Becoming profitable and self sustaining Living happily ever after!

No one goes into business or marriage believing that one day it might ‘stop’ or end.  Yet, 80 to 90% of the time businesses (e.g., technology start-ups, restaurants, retail shops, side businesses) fail or barely break even, and last I heard 50 to 60% of marriages end in divorce and that rate has been increasing over the years.  So much so that venture capitalists are actually funding sites like Divorce360.com and Agreed Divorces.com.  They should also fund a site called ShutDownYourBusiness.com! 

Stopping a business or a marriage is not easy.  You get up every day and say to yourself: “Something will happen to make the business work.  I’ll get funding.  I’ll get that next customer.  I can’t stop now!”  You coast in your marriage thinking “I’ll keep myself busy and things will get better or make more sense.  We’ll  make it work for the sake of the kids.”  Many times it does get better (after the sleep deprivation wears off) but sometimes you end up like Archie Bunker and Edith Bunker or other such couples who can’t stand each other but stay together because they don’t know what else to do.  Or you end up a bitter, washed up individual who finds yourself going through the motions because you have defined yourself as an entrepreneur yet you could never build a sustaining business.  You then end up feeling that life is unfair and you never got your well deserved lucky break. 

I know this post might sound depressing, but these are the odds you are playing with when you start a business or marriage.  Many entrepreneurs will fold up (and have already started to) their businesses due to tough economic times (no funding, no customers, etc.).  They will use the bad economy as a welcome excuse for not making it.  It is, after all, a justifiable/less ego-destroying way to explain to people why your business didn’t make it.  

And by all means, take the opportunity to wrap things up if you can (for your and your family’s sanity) because it is going to be tougher than normal for a while.  However, at the same time, the opportunities (volunteer help, cheaper resources, less competition) for being creative will be abundant. 

The next few years are going to be interesting.  Companies/marriages may fall apart because the changing economy ends up being the straw that breaks the camel’s back.  Or they might outlast the downturn and be stronger on the other side.  Many successful entrepreneurs have emerged from down economies and their success is surely a prerequisite for the economy turning around and thriving! 

I, for one, am glad to be living in this day and age.  In no other time in history (or probably not in any other country) could I have done what I’ve done, tried what I’ve tried, say what I say, write what I write, do what I do, or dream what I dream without being squashed. 

What do you think? Is Business and Love like (the US war in Iraq)? Easy to begin but hard to stop?

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, fundraising | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »