Helping Each Other With Our Pain

Tuesday 23 September, 2003

After waking up feeling stiff in my (right) shoulder, neck and lower back, I wondered whether I might write something about my pain. It feels daunting and yet I can’t think of what to write. Karaj gave me some pointers, but even his help did not motivate me in any way. We talked about how, yesterday, neither of us was willing to look at our respective pain. We managed to address Karaj’s with his résumé because that was a job, and together we completed a task. I need to approach my pain in a similar way.

A word search on Volume 1 of my journal brought up so many references that putting together a document of my pain will be a long and challenging job; a fact which first struck me when I became emotional reading about the pain I’ve gone through. Shona helped me by asking me how I felt about it. It was as though I was reading about myself as a separate person and thinking: ‘Bloody hell lad, you’ve been through a lot.’ I was really feeling for this person and at the same time I knew it was me I was relating to. I am looking back on a part of myself, saying: ‘I know what you’ve been through but it’s okay.

Karaj and I talked about taking things slowly; especially when things are going wrong. Don’t panic. He suggested I get the men together to help me. I phoned Ishwar, Simran and Calvin to ask them to help me. They all agreed to come over tomorrow. It was empowering to ask for help.

After welcoming Michelle I called Dev and we chatted about our respective weeks. I shared with him the issue of pain I have had today, and he reported on his meetings with his team and his boss. Both had gone well and yet he has not called us to share his success with us. This is where he fucks himself up. When he is doing well he disappears. I challenged him to phone us; especially when he is doing well. I also complimented him that he is an example to others in the group. He couldn’t accept my compliment, commenting that he will ‘have to take it with a pinch of salt.’ I challenged him on this too. All he has to do is accept the compliments and stay in touch.

I worked with Michelle for three hours, until gone midnight, typing up her diary notes for July while she dictated them. Initially, I had asked her if she was all right and had to keep pushing before she eventually acknowledged that she cannot ask for things (‘All I do is give’). I offered to help her type up her notes and she immediately accepted. They concerned the time she wrote the letter to her father and all the fuss it caused with her mother. So, after being unable to write down my own pain this morning and asking the men for their help, I find myself helping Michelle with her pain. Funny how things work. Yesterday I was helping Karaj with his.

Michelle asked me if this work affects me. No. That’s the whole point. I don’t have her baggage, so I’m detached from it. I help Michelle, the men help me… that’s how it works. We touched upon how well people are doing and how this evening has helped me because it has shown me the other side of being helped: tomorrow the men will be here to help me, and Michelle has helped me to banish any doubts or embarrassment about it because, in helping her, I’ve seen that it’s a pleasure and a privilege to help (serve) someone. It’s empowering.

Our conversation moved on to how helping Michelle has kept me away from doing some work on my pain, which is what I had planned. I considered leaving Michelle to finish her work herself, but her pain kept coming so I stayed with her. She told me she would have insisted I carry on because she would not have been able to do it herself, such was the level of emotion for her.

Summary: A tough but very good day. It has been about pain and helping each other with it. Yesterday I helped Karaj with his; this morning I called the men to help me with mine; and this evening I helped Michelle with hers. I have felt very tired but now, at the end of the day I feel alive; even if I cannot work effectively for my own benefit, I can still help others.


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