Friday, January 23, 2009

Growing Pains

I will never forget the way that I would cry during the night because of the intense pain that radiated through my body as it urged my legs and muscles to continue to grow and elongate. The way my mothers arms would wrap around me as she rocked me, the cure all until I fell back asleep. Looking back now I realize how much I appreciated the resiliency of my childhood, where every scraped knee and bruised elbow could be magically cured by a kiss and a Barbie band-aid. Unfortunately, I have found that the growing pains of adulthood do not seem to respond to the panaceas of my childhood. In medicine we learn that as we get older it takes more time to heal our wounds, and I believe this statement is true for any ailment we might suffer physical or emotional.

Oh, how life has a funny way of forcing us to grow and experience. As a child you have no inhibitions, no reservations, and sticks and stones may break your bones but others will never hurt you mantra. Yet, as we get older we are forced to experience the heartaches of disappointment, loss, and love. While you try to slap a band-aid on these grown up hurts you realize that it only is a short time fix for the emotional scarring that it can leave. No one ever warns you of the emotional growing pains because they are something we all must live and experience on our own.

Yet, what I have found is that the growing pains of my adult life have only allowed me to become a stronger and more confident person. It wasn't until a few nights ago that I realized that we all have wounds that are festering that haven't completely healed and that are preventing us from being the person we deserve to be. The initial injury for me was an event that occurred so long ago in high school, yet, the repercussions of that day continue to follow me. It dealt with the guy of my dreams, (oh how little I knew back then) and my best friend. The betrayal of a friend and the feelings of rejection from a guy I had confessed my interest in which only hurt and conjured up feelings of inadequacy. Then someone this past week, just as blatantly as day called me out, they saw through my facade of strength and questioned my feelings of self-worth. I finally understood that I could no longer permit this wound to seep into my daily life, but should allow it to become a battle wound, something I pride myself in surviving.

More importantly, adult growing pains have no warning or caution sign attached. As a child we were told if you touch the stove it is hot, or if you fall off your bike it will hurt. Now we are forced to just experience and respond. No one could have ever prepared me for the emotional gamut I was launched into when my father was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic liver cancer. I remember sitting by his hospital bed watching the miles of IV tubing attached to him as it flooded his body with potent drugs. I remember looking into his eyes and realizing that the man who could kiss every bump and bruise as a child and make it better, now only seemed weak and worn from the multiple rounds of chemotherapy. During this time, I refused to feel, see, or think anything. I was desolate and empty. Yet, with time I began to see the beauty that rested in his diagnosis. I began to see life so differently, while this pain near killed me, I grew as a person realizing that depth of one's life is only a reflection of our ability to feel and experience. Some wounds are meant to be reminders of how precious and meaningful life truly is.

Over the last two months I have watched some of my dearest friends experience heart break. While I have done a mighty fine job of avoiding this situation in my own life, I only wish I could take away the agony that trembles in their voices and the pain that rests in their eyes. Yet, I realize that this too will pass their wounds will heal and they will be fine, and perhaps even stronger than before. Which only makes me conclude that it is the growing pains of adulthood that bind us all. The deep gashes allow us to be able to empathize together. They remind us that we are not alone.

Thus, this week I encourage you to tend to your wounds, rip off the band-aid, and do some major debridment. The tiny scar that will form is only a reminder of how incredibly strong you really are.

1 comment:

Sarah Butler said...

jennifer, you are the SWEETEST ever. i know where this was pointed and every word is true :)

growing pains, ugh. but they only make us stronger... :)