I once had a miscarriage. Yes, it was horrible. It wasn’t the six-week-heavy-period early type miscarriage, although those can be just as devastating when you are longing for a baby. No, it was the I-just-started-telling-people-I-was-pregnant late type of miscarriage. It was the globs of what was once a whole life sustaining system seeping out of your body because that life was no longer type miscarriage.
I ended up at the hospital, my poor dear roommate accompanying me in a cab to the emergency room where they took amazing care of me, so much so that after a doctor’s examination, I was admitted to the woman’s ward where I was given a bed and pain relief. I remember eating a dry, tasteless sandwich and drinking a weak cup of milky tea, smiling into it noting passively, I do not take milk. The drug was obviously taking affect and I waved my relieved roommate goodbye.
The next thing I knew, I woke up in agony and having since given birth to my beautiful daughter, I can without hesitation say, that this was worse than actual labour. It wasn’t just the psychological slap in the face of having to go through a process that once over would leave you without a baby, but also the level of pure physical pain. I remember going to the toilet and just sitting there as the stuff of my once slowly growing dream sloughed out of me. It hurt. It hurt in every way. My legs, adding to the hurt by falling asleep, forced me to get off the toilet and back to bed. Lying down again, I was sweating, shaking and crying, I had never experienced such intense sensations. I tired to be stoic, I was in London, England after all; stiff upper lip, keep calm and carry on, we survived the Blitz and all that, but after a few more unbearable moments, I pressed the nurse button.
Quickly I was rewarded by the presence of a nurse at my bedside. Judging by her parlance she must have hailed from the Caribbean and I remember thinking: oh thank God, I love Bob Marley, it must be a sign she is a good person who will help me. Strange what we think in duress… I told her that I was in excruciating pain and she gently stroked my forehead and said:
“That is what it is like dear, I am sorry, you just have to go through it.”
“I know,” I said, “but can’t you help me?”
She looked so kindly at me, just imagining it now brings tears to my eyes.
“Just a moment,” she said and walked away.
I heard her pick up a telephone and talk to someone on the other end.
“No, no, she has just had some painkillers. OK, ok, thank you.”
Then she walked away from the phone and after a few minutes returned. I went to raise my head from the pillow, and she put her hand out to stop me.
“No, no, just lie still,” she told me soothingly.
But her warning had come too late. I had already seen the needle she was carrying. It was massive. Just the needle part must have been eight inches long. Before I knew what was happening she had pulled down my hospital issued underwear and was rubbing disinfectant onto one of my butt cheeks. Suddenly, she stuck the needle into me and pushed down the plunger. Worse pain then I was already in exploded from the site of injection before it was replaced by a sort of instantaneous bliss. To this day, I have no idea what drug she gave me but it was one hundred percent effective and quick!
From studying drugs for my psych degree in university, I at least knew that it was a newer painkiller, the type that, put in a simplified way, cut the communication between neurotransmitters. Your brain still knows that it is in pain, it can still feel the pain, but it doesn’t care. The synaptic uptake on the other side of caring never happens. So you still feel everything but don’t give a toss about it. You are like a crazy person, laughing, crying, screaming: I am in so much freaking pain but I don’t give a damn!
I soon fell asleep to this thought and I write about it here because it was such a deep and poignant lesson. I kept returning to the memory I just described and thinking, if only I could find a painkiller as an antidote to all of life’s hurts. If only I could feel everything but not give a damn about it. I experienced that miscarriage almost seven years ago and it has taken seven years of searching to find it; the antidote to life’s suffering and not in pharmaceutical form. I found it instead through doing nothing, or through sitting or as others call it, thorough meditating.
About six months ago, I was going crazy. I was totally losing the plot. The stress of life had rendered me a raw nerve that was constantly being over stimulated to the point of exhaustion and madness. Then one day I spontaneously signed up for an eight-week online meditation course. I started enthusiastically, and then wanted to quit, and then wanted to send the teacher a nasty note, and then got back into it. My emotions were all over the place. In sticking with it however, just a daily (twice if I can make it) thirty-minute practice of mantra based meditation, I have found something extraordinary: a massive narcotic filled needle permanently plunged into my butt cheek! Eureka!
After six months of doing nothing, I have embodied the ‘I do not give a damn’ ethos. The great thing is that as expected, I still feel pain. This morning I lay in bed and had a nano second cry, but that was because I was talking to someone who hasn’t found what I have and still does give a damn. This made me sad. I could feel his pain and so let it flow through me and out my open eyes. There. Gone. Better.
So, I can feel my own pain, another’s pain and the world’s pain but I just hear it like a far off echo whose source I cannot locate. It doesn’t come close to me and it is over in an instant. This might sound stranger than my Bob Marley logic from the night in the hospital, but it is true. Meditation has created this sort of space in between the essence of who I am and the world; and I include myself in that world. It has created a space between the real me and the me that goes around in utter agony. Because that is what life can be if you let it, constant suffering. My night nurse savior said it: ‘That is what it is like dear, I am sorry, you just have to go through it.’ That is what life is like, painful and you just have to go through it, but better to go through it with a eight inch needle of bliss lodged in your gluteus maximus then without.
I acknowledge that some people aren’t like me, they were born wired for happiness in ways that I am not. They seem able to attach to the good and reject the bad, but not me, pre-meditation practice I was attaching to everything, erecting a shrine to it and praying under it five times a day. Perhaps I am someone who responds to meditation because I need it so much. I need something to cut the cord between my ego and my experiences. to release me from the burden of feeling to much. Now, thanks to a daily practice, I can still experience life fully but pain or pleasure, I simply don’t give a damn.