To Choose Pain

portrait_week371.jpgIt's been a long week. Most of my stuff has sat in storage since Drew died three years ago. And before that, probably half those boxes hadn't been opened in years. With the move to Ohio in just a few weeks, it's time to finally tackle this.

I decided that I didn't want to take any extra baggage (literally) with me on this new venture, and that means I'm opening up every last box. I'm pulling out a million different little pieces of myself from long ago... and deciding which pieces I want to keep and which I want to leave behind. 

It's been emotional. To dig through my past and remember who I used to be. A lot has happened to me that isn't just the grief over my fiance. Death, alcoholism, family dystunction, abuse...I haven't had the worst life by far, but it hasn't been easy.

Revisiting the boxes reminded me of how I spent the first 25 years of my life in survival mode. There was never stability, or healthy relationships, or a feeling of safety in my world. There was never room to put down the armor and just relax into life. Not until I met Drew...  

He helped to give me the kind of stability and healthy love that allowed me to just enjoy life for those few years we shared. For me, it was one of the biggest gifts... to understand what it can feel like to live life from a place of security instead of always being based in fear.

These years since Drew's death, I have started to find that sense of security again. This time, it's coming more from within me though. There is a solidness that wasn't there before. And it comes from having survived such immense trauma that I know in a much deeper way that I can trust myself to handle things. I am rarely in survival mode anymore. It's is probably one of the most important gifts that he could have given me – one that will affect the entire rest of my life in really important ways. 

There is also a newfound sense of security in having Mike in my life too. And I believe 100% that Drew brought him here for a reason, at this very time in my life, to help me with the next chapter of moving forward. I will admit, Mike's solidness has helped give me the courage to take some big steps – like this presentation I'm about to give in just another week on using creativity to greive. And moving across the country for the first time in my life. Despite all of these bold decisions as of late... one thing is never far from my mind: That Mike could be gone at any moment. In fact, its been on my mind a lot with the move approaching. 

Drew and I were at a pinnacle in our life together when he was ripped away from me and gone suddenly. We were moving forward, looking towards marriage, his career as a pilot was just getting off the ground. Things were going our way. Then BAM, all of it gone, with one phonecall.

Now, I'm at the edge of a first big pinnacle with Mike. The closer this move gets, the more nervous I become that something will go horribly wrong. After all, it happened before... Now I know, I am not immune. None of us are.

It's scary to let someone matter this much again. It's scary to begin building a life with someone new. It really really is. It's far scarier than most people in my life realize, because mostly, I am quiet about it. It takes a LOT of courage to step into love again after death. Now having lost Drew, I know just exactly what I am agreeing to. I know in a very real way that attaching my heart to anyone outside myself will inevitably, someday, end in pain. Mike is of course just as aware of this as I am, after losing Megan.

Some day, one of us will die, and there is no way of knowing when that will happen. All we can do is hope that we are lucky enough to dodge the accidents and the illnesses that could take us early. That's all we've got: hope. Hope and the attitude that we aren't going to let things like that stop us.

I don't think I'll ever stop having this thought though. It's an awareness that's ingrained in me now. Instead of letting it get to me though, I use it to my advantage. I allow it to be the thing that reminds me to be grateful of what's here today. The thing that keeps me constantly aware of how beautiful every little moment is between Mike and I. That is also Drew's gift to me. His way of still loving me and being in my life.

Drew will forever be there to remind me. Even if this wasn't what I had planned before, to never take this life and this beautiful new love for granted, ever. To never let the fear of pain get in the way of pursuing happiness again. When we choose love, we also choose pain. He reminds me to take responsibility for that choice. To see pain as a part of the journey, not as something to avoid or let hinder me. He reminds me that pain should never stop me from taking hold of what joy I can in this life and riding it till the end. To choose the inevitability of pain – time and time again – for the privelage of love. Love others. Love ourselves. Love life.

Love, he has taught me, is the worthiest of reasons to hurt. 

Image © Sarah Treanor 2014 - Source

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  • commented 2015-10-13 13:09:43 -0700
    Beautiful post, and brings back memories of rummaging through our storage unit , 14 months after he died, when I was forced to move out of our apartment. I was going through not only my life in boxes, but his, because almost everything he owned that didnt fit in our tiny apartment, was in that storage unit. There were pieces of him in there that I didnt even know about, or that I wanted to know more about, and it was very very hard. Love you !
  • commented 2015-10-12 17:32:49 -0700
    Sarah – what a powerful piece of your heart in writing this. Yes, love hurts us so deep to the core of our being. Maybe one day I’ll take that leap that you are doing – I would think I should be there – but I’m scared to death of it, of the future – what will or will not be? Watching you are you prepare your your lifes new adventure – I couldn’t be happier for you and Mike. You both know what it is like to lose someone as I do. Love you girl -—- keep on writing and sharing your heart.
  • commented 2015-10-12 15:04:44 -0700
    Wonderfully written. It is a great reminder to live and love while honoring those we lost. To know great love was worth the pain of grief. While I am not ready to love again, your story gives me hope. I wish you the best on your new adventure.
  • commented 2015-10-12 04:35:03 -0700
    Yes Sarah. Risk of loss………you can’t love without taking it. But how gun shy we become when something has hurt us so badly. You have the courage to get through this event. A hint of that shows in your writing. My monies on you girl. I love the photograph. It speaks volumes!
  • commented 2015-10-11 15:23:36 -0700
    Oh Sarah, with this beautifully written piece you have spoken exactly what I grapple with – that life promises us nothing. And that is why, if we are wise, we choose to live in the now, and that also choosing hope is the only buffer we have to help us keep moving forward. No matter what, when I grieve for Hugh, when my heart feels like it’s been pulled out of my body and lays in bloody shreds on the floor, I still say, and I will always believe that our life together and the miraculous love we created was all worth it. But is isn’t easy, is it. When fear creeps in it can be so paralyzing, and being a widow, suffering so much trauma and loss, and the horrible aftermath of the sudden death of the one we loved most in this world, it takes courage and strength and the firm realization that while we are in the land of the living we have to believe the truth that you have so eloquently affirmed, “Love is…the worthiest of reasons to hurt.” Much love to you and to Mike as you step even further into forging a life together, and may love and hope always triumph over fear. XOX