A few years after getting married, it was time… Time to have a baby. So we stopped all of those things that people do that prevent them from having a baby and decided that we would let it happen. To our delightful surprise getting pregnant was pretty easy. I’m not talking about the act itself because believe it or not as a marriage and sex therapist sometimes the act itself is a challenge. But for us getting pregnant just happened. As a man who grew up in a family of 9 boys. Infertility was a myth like big foot or unicorns. Then it happened. We weren’t expecting anything but good news when we went to the doctor to have the doctor check things out. All that lovey, hopey, soft warm cozy feelings of bringing baby into the world, started to unravel with really uncomfortable cold sick-to-my-stomach feeling. The doctor said that the baby was not developing and that it was probably just a mass of tissue. “These things happen.” We had already held that baby in the timeless imagination of our minds. We had already fallen in love with this baby. And now we are being told that we need to just pop this imaginary bubble that brought joy. Ouch! Doesn’t describe it. Then off we went down the rabbit hole. (I actually believe the devil is the tour guide of this rabbit hole thing people do, because it totally sucks.) What does it mean that this baby isn’t going to happen? What did we do wrong? Is this not meant to be? Do we not deserve a baby? How come so and so got baby? They don’t even want one! Depression kicked in. Here comes the pain train.
How do we escape the pain? The first step is understanding the pain. Where does psychological pain come from? As a therapist that has worked with addictions, trauma, divorce, and death, I work with psychological pain every day. I’ve lived with it. My brother was killed by a drunk driver just two years ago while riding his bike to work. I see pain and I know pain. So where does pain come from and where does peace come from? Psychological pain is when the combination of what we believe, and what we want, and what we expect, doesn’t happen. The mind is stuck trying to find a solution to a problem that doesn’t have a fix. That pain continues as long as we continue to want, hope for, and expect something to happen that does not happen. Everyone experiences this kind of psychological pain to one degree or another. Think of psychological pain as a continuum. On one end of the continuum is the psychological pain that comes from being disappointed that a happy ending didn’t happen in a movie you were watching (think the new movie Everest). Compare that disappointment and psychological pain to losing your husband and child in the sunshine of life due to a simple random act of someone’s neglect. The greater the expectation, hope and belief, the greater the intensity of pain. How do we reduce the pain? The answer will be hard for some people to swallow. Because some people don’t want to let go of their beliefs that they “should” have something that they can’t. The longer they hold on to something they can’t have, especially if they truly believe that their happiness depends on it… the longer and deeper the pain. Understanding that the psychological pain is actually the brains function to motivate you to find a “fix” or solution that comes from a deeply held and guarded belief that you “should” have something that no matter how hard you try you can’t, is the first step in opening the doors to a solution – not to get that thing you can’t have, but to get the peace and sense of serenity that you need. The next blog post will provide you steps to take to help you find the peace and serenity that you need. Until that time, see if you can relax your grip on what you can’t have (that thing that you desperately want and can’t have) to allow yourself to reach toward something that is within reach, peace, meaning and serenity.
Emil is the author of the new book “You Can Turn Conflict Into Closeness” endorsed by Dr. John Gottman the world’s most renown expert in relationships. He is in private practice in Farmington Utah and is a frequent presenter, radio, and tv expert. You can learn more about Emil Harker at EmilHarker.com for the E-book click here.