Suffering is optional

I’ve talked here before about the power of positive thinking.

It’s tough. But it works for me. Sure, there are people who think you’re a pollyanna or something when you look on the bright side. But the alternative is dreary and dreary is very bad for me.

Yesterday, one of the Twitter followers for @SeparatedBirth shared a quote that has stuck with me: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” The tweet attributed the quote to Winston Churchill. Other stuff says its a Buddhist saying that dates far before Churchill.

Let me repeat it, so you can get as much out of it as I did: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

I have been thinking about this quote a lot in the last day and a half or so. It’s made me really reflective. I read some previous blogged and noticed that I mostly wrote “diastasis symphysis pubis sustained during childbirth.” That is pretty powerful use of perspective. Think about that compared to: “my baby broke my pelvis.”

The first allows me to deal with reality without blame, resentment or anger. It allows me to accept my injury for what it is and move forward.

It is true, pain is inevitable. Everyone will hurt, be it physically, mentally, emotionally. But suffering, according to this, is a choice.

If you choose not to let the pain bring you down, it won’t. Like what Eleanor Roosevelt said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

In a way, my husband and I refused to consent to the idea that my pelvic instability would make my post-childbirth self physically inferior to my pre-childbirth self. We believed it was possible and so it was.

See where I’m going with all of this? Believe it works if you want to, think I’m nuts if you want you. But find what works for you. Pelvic instability, no matter the cause, gets in the way of your life. The life you want to be living is worth fighting for.

It took a long time. And, arguably the treatments we would have chosen may have been different if I had an x-ray earlier, or even knew of other available options. But by the time we got answers and had a plan we knew we had “suffered” enough.

Today I am filled with renewed commitment to the idea that I will do the things we used to do with my husband and my son, with our extended family and friends. I am confident that we will hike and camp this summer. And maybe, if everything goes right, I’ll even get to bring out my shawl.

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