Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How To Make Pain Work For You - Part 3

Welcome to the last part of this series. Please be sure to read the first 2 parts before reading this one. Enjoy!

SEEK THE HELP YOU NEED – Thankfully, just around the corner of the supermarket where I fell is a Medical Centre. As soon as I was able to be moved I was taken to it and although between my arrival and my pain relief there were many questions asked, an oxygen mask forced on me, X-rays taken, and more questions asked, ultimately my pain was relieved.

Some step-situations can be too painful to deal with on your own. If you are in one of those, do yourself a favour and seek professional assistance. Be assured that there is no shame in seeking help. It doesn’t mean that you are weak or incompetent. With many more helping professionals having greater awareness these days of issues that are commonly experienced by stepfamilies, seeking help merely means that you are wise enough not to struggle on your own when it isn'’t necessary. Like me, you may have to undergo some painful prodding and it may take some time before your pain is relieved, but a step-savvy counsellor will assist you to get there.

DO WHAT IT TAKES –- For me there was no choice. Because my elbow was broken in a complicated fashion it had to be pinned and wired back into place, which meant an ambulance ride to hospital, 8 hours of waiting in the emergency ward and finally, surgery.

Some step-situations can be resolved easily, others may need a bit support, yet others require more expert help and then there are those that need to undergo surgery. As you are no doubt aware, surgery always comes with a risk. That’s why you have to sign numerous bits of paper so that if something did go wrong you cannot blame the surgeon, anesthetist, hospital etc. But if there is no other way for you to get better you will need surgery despite all the risks. If your marriage (partnership) requires surgery, go for it! Get the best surgeon you know, trust that the outcome is going to be right for you and get it over and done with. Putting it off because you'’re scared of what might happen, because you fear even greater pain, because you are so used to living in pain that you cannot imagine a different way of being, is not going to solve anything, it just prolongs the agony!

REMEMBER THAT HEALING TAKES TIME -– I’'ve been told that I'’ll need to wear the plaster cast for numerous weeks and that I'’ll be quite incapacitated for a long time afterwards. This, of course, is terribly inconvenient. I cannot drive. Showering is a difficult process. Getting dressed is a challenge. Everything that used to be easy is now difficult. Oh darn!!

If your relationship requires more than just casual help, it may take some time to heal. During this time you probably won’'t feel too great. When things that used to work for you don'’t work any more, you might no longer feel like yourself. This can be frustrating, even scary. You may feel helpless, impatient and could be wondering: Why did this happen to ME? Rather than driving yourself crazy with questions that don'’t have an easy answer, remember that all this will pass in time. In the meantime the best you can do is just go with the flow.

ACCEPT THAT HEALING TAKES HARD WORK -– I’ve also been told that I'’ll have to have extensive physiotherapy in order to get my arm to function normally again. This will be time-consuming, costly, inconvenient and not least of all, painful.

For you (or your step-situation) to heal, it will also require hard work. You may need to do things or to put up with things that are time-consuming, costly and painful. You’ll probably encounter times when it will all seem too hard or too painful and you'’ll want to give up. Don’t despair, all of this is part of the process! Going through the healing process is rarely fun, but the ultimate outcome will be worth it.

FIND THE SILVER LINING –- It is said that every cloud has a silver lining. Lying in a hospital bed, nursing a throbbing arm that now contains enough hardware to set off every airport security system, finding the proverbial silver lining isn'’t all that easy.

When you encounter your first stepfamily trauma it may seem like the end of the world, the end of your marriage, the end of all your hopes, desires and dreams . It may be like walking straight into the midst of a big, black, threatening cloud. When this happens, it is important to look for the silver lining, which sometimes can be hard to find. After 22 years of living in a stepfamily and numerous years of dealing with stepfamily issues professionally, I can assure you that there isn'’t a cloud that does not have a silver lining, you just have to look for it and be patient if you don’'t discover it straight away. My stepfamily journey, as those of you who’ve read my book will know, was a rather cloudy affair, but the silver lining that I ultimately discovered was pretty spectacular. Hanging in when the going seemed more than tough, doing whatever it took, being willing to do the hard work, being patient (which doesn'’t come easily to me) has paid off in a thousand different ways: I have a wonderful relationship with my husband; the strongest marriage I know; a great relationship with the boys who made my life so challenging years ago; a satisfying profession (which came about as the result of my personal journey); many opportunities to share my hard-won wisdom; and the pleasure and privilege of witnessing people turn their life’'s tests into encouraging testimonies and their messes into empowering messages. What more could I want? I love it
but I wouldn'’t be in this place had I not persevered.

If you thought that I might truly need my head examined when you first read my comparison between the stepfamily journey and my unfortunate fall, I hope that by now you’ve changed your mind. My wish for you is:

- That you will appropriate whatever you have at your disposal to get through your tough times.

- That you make your pain work for you rather than allowing it to work against you, and

- that when you get through the tough stuff, you’ll discover that the hardest things you'’ve encountered on your journey have turned out to be your greatest blessings.


Lori said...

Hello. After reviewing your site I felt that my readers would benefit from your obvious experience as a long time successful stepmom. I hope you do not mind, but I have placed a link on my blog site to yours so that my readers can easily come to your site for guidance.

Sonja Ridden said...

Hi Lori,

I most certainly do not mind and, in fact, truly hope that everyone who reads my blog entries takes SOMETHING, ANYTHING away from my own hard-won experiences. Why reinvent the wheel over and over and over?

Best wishe to you and your readers,