I have been reflecting a lot since returning home from my trip to Haiti. They do life and birth so differently there. During these reflections I keep coming back to the same line in my head "Why does it seem like Americans are SO afraid to feel?" From the time we are born, we are taught if we feel any measure of pain or discomfort, that there is a means to take that all away. We tend to be uber quick to medicate the physical, emotional and much of the in-between.
About 8 months ago, I had friends arrive to the US after living their entire lives in a refugee camp in Rwanda. One of the girls, 11, cut open her foot pretty bad while playing for the first time at a local Portland park. While she didn't skip a beat, the rest of us were scrambling to find ways to clean her up and make sure she wasn't in a crazy amount of pain! All the while thinking to ourselves "how is she not crying or freaking out?! Our kid would have lost it by now!" Was she supernatural and couldn't feel what was happening to her foot? No. She had just experienced so much in her little life that what to her was "just another cut on her foot" was in fact "no big deal!"
Then I arrive in Haiti. A place with the most resiliently strong people and where I got the amazing opportunity to witness numerous women give birth. You would not have known some of these women were feeling the same labor discomfort that so many of us know so well. They were calm and collected, as if having a baby was effortless and truly, not a big deal. I was amazed with the grace they carried as they sat, walked, and laid. It was a spectacular sight to see! Now I know Haitian women are not exempt from the pain of childbirth, just like refugee children are not exempt from feeling foot pain.
So what is it that aids in the ability for one to cope with the discomforts of life?
My thought is that it is not masking the pain, but allowing ones body to actually FEEL!
Don't try and take away every emotion, discomfort, or twinge of pain. Don't be afraid to feel what life is throwing our way!
When Life gets hard, lets deal with the emotions, not medicate. When we get the slightest ache from a fever, why don't we allow it to run its very-important-course in doing what the fever was created to do (fight infection) rather then being so quick to make it go away! I am thankful for the advances we have in the U.S, but I think sometimes we may take our knowledge and technology a bit too far. I want the best physical and emotional health for my children and myself. Sometimes this means enduring some discomfort so we can reach the overall healthiest outcome in the end.
Let us not always be afraid to feel what life throws our way. Some of it can actually be really beautiful to feel (childbirth being one of them!) Plus, the pain we mask, typically will catch up to us one way or another in the end.