I was told a story once about a car-accident survivor who woke up in the Intensive Care Unit, only to discover her husband had died in the crash. She, herself, had a brain injury from the collision. Family and close friends took note that she was unable to grieve, and most believe this was due to her physical condition.
It is difficult to say with absolute certainty when neurological damage has occurred, but the survival instinct to heal physically first protected her from the emotional distress. However, the consequence of not grieving in a timely manner brought about other issues for the woman.
While my own condition is far less severe, both physically and emotionally, yesterday I had an experience that now allows me to understand this story better. I am still recovery from an invasive surgery to repair an inguinal hernia. There is a four-inch incision in my lower abdomen that has been healing for eleven days now, and I’m still on a ten-pound lifting restriction.
However, within the past few days, the subtle but ever-present physical pain ceased. A co-worker commented that I was finally walking upright on Friday. While I’m not fully recovered, my body now requires less dedication to complete the mending. Yet as a result, the floodgates of my emotional fitness over the break-up have broken open. Suddenly I am suffering heartache and facing mawkish demons, which I believed had been endured.
My response has not been good. I am angry and petty, and spite oozes from my skin. And whether my feelings are valid or not, I don’t like my conduct. While I’ve not crossed any line of truly uncouth behavior, I simply am uncomfortable with this unexpected state. I know this too shall pass, but in the meantime it’s unsettling to discover the labyrinth is larger than expected and that my progress was merely motion.
Worse, the emotional state has resulted in some physiological backlash. I awoke to my wound, oozing and bleeding a bit this morning. Perhaps my body is protecting me again, deterring my sin-nature by Stigmata. (Hopefully, everyone will recognize that deduction as satire.)
I have phone calls in to doctors, both physical and mental. And while I already had appointments for both, we shall see if they determine an early visit for either is needed. In the meantime, I am taking Columbus Day off from work. It’s clear I’m not the Superman I mislead myself to believe I am.