Isn't it funny how quickly we can erase the memories that are centred around things we fear most. Like pain.
Like heart break.
Those moments in life when we have been at our rawest and feeling the most intense feelings we as human beings are capable of feeling.
Like childbirth. The death of a loved one. The loss of a lover or a friend.
When we are in severe and acute physical or emotional pain.
I find it hard to remember now exactly now much it hurt to feel the contractions that came minute after minute with my eldest daughter. 16 years helps dilute that pain I guess. But I do remember at the time thinking that I would never, ever forget how it felt. And I would never be the same person I was before ever again because of it.
I find it hard to remember now exactly how much it hurt to feel the waves of grief that washed over me minute after minute when I found out that my Dad had passed away in the most tragic of circumstances. 17 years helps dilute that pain I guess. But I do remember at the time thinking that I would never, ever forget how it felt. And I would never be the same person I was before ever again because of it.
I find it hard to remember now exactly how much it hurt to feel the waves of pain that gripped me every time I moved after I suffered a prolapsed disc at the age of 39. 2 years helps dilute that pain I guess. But I do remember at the time thinking that I would never, ever forget how it felt. And I would never be the same person I was before ever again because of it.
I don't find it as hard to remember now exactly how wonderful it felt to feel the waves of euphoria and elation that I have felt when wonderful, happy feeling have filled my heart with joy, elation, pride, jubilant celebrations of personal achievement and wonderment.
Those magic moments that are the pinnacle of life's highest highs. Graduation Day, Year 12. Finally leaving school and beginning my life in the big wide world as a grown up. Free to do whatever I pleased with no limitations - the world at my feet. Oh it felt so free and boundless to be young and beautiful with only my dreams ahead of me. No fears that things may not turn out the way I hoped. Just a crystal clear belief in good things to come and my dreams coming true. I still remember that feeling and thinking about that memory stirs the same feeling in my heart now.
The Rehearsal Dinner before my wedding day when my Dad turned up at my hotel room door done up in a suit with arm outstretched ready to escort me to the Church for our practice run and walking down the aisle. Seeing his joy and pride and pure love for his only daughter filled me with those same emotions and literally swelled my heart. I still remember that feeling and thinking about that memory stirs the same feeling in my heart now.
Holding each of my babies in my arms as they slept on my chest after a mid afternoon feed. When there was silence and nothing but pure love between mother and child. Those big blue eyes looking up at me with contentment in their milk drunk haze.
Looking back at these moments that were so pivotal in my definition of being happy, I realise that without those terrible, heart wrenching life changing moments of extreme grief, pain and sadness - how could I ever truly understand what heart clenching, overwhelming love and happiness is.
I look back on the memories of my Dad and remember the good and the painful; The lessons I have learnt continue to guide me to a better place of kindness, understanding, compassion, empathy love.
Just as I didn't fully comprehend how lucky I was to live a pain free active life until that was taken away from me and I had to fight to get it back again.
I clearly understand now that the biggest lessons of my life have been learnt during times of immense pain and loss. This is why I used to find remembering them so confronting; - my brain had locked those memories away to protect me from re-experiencing the trauma.
I also see now that each and every time I experienced these extreme moments of agonising emotional and physical pain - I also was presented with the most phenomenal amount of love.
At the time I couldn't see them or fully experience them like the good memories I retain so clearly. My heart was surrounded with a darkness that was impenetrable to light. I couldn't fully feel the overwhelming positive emotions then that today are so obviously clear.
Like the love and support that surrounded me as I grieved for the loss of my Dad. The friend and her husband who drove 500km out of there way to be at his funeral to give me a hug and tell me she loved me.
Or the obstetrician who gave up his weekend with his family to be with me as I tried desperately to deliver naturally and then raced in late on a Sunday evening to save me and my baby when we both went into distress.
Or the friend who drove my kids to school every morning when I couldn't get out of bed let alone tackle two flights of stairs and sit in a vehicle for 30 minutes.
Moments of compassion, love and empathy that were surrounding me at times when it seemed so dark and terrifying.
I understand now that the lessons I was meant to learn from these tragedies and difficult times have helped me grow and lead me to a path through a maze of twists and turns that ultimately were where I was supposed to end up. That with each painful experience comes a multitude of positive ones to keep you afloat and headed in the right direction back to happiness.
At the time, the reason for the bad things I experienced didn't seem clear. I could not understand why these difficulties were dealt to me or those I love, nor could I fully experience the immensity of the abundance of love, friendship and light that was also around me at these times.
Now I do.
As the darkness clears and the light shines over my world again, I see that I needed a very sharp shove onto the road that I was doing my very best to veare away from - and that I received so much more love and protection when I was at the rawest and most painful parts of my journey. I just couldn't see the light.
I read a beautiful message the other day that resonates deeply with me now.
"The pain will leave you when the lesson has been learned."
Suffice to say - I think I can finally say - I get it.
Life is about finding the tiny piece of rainbow or sunshine on a stormy day. It will always be there, you just have to look for it and let it warm you while the storm runs it course.
The darkness won't stay forever - it will stay until you have experienced what it is you were meant to to help guide you to where you are meant to be, back in the sun light once more.