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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Demons Part 3: 'Bloodletting' pain as a way of mourning

According to Wikipedia (for what it's worth), bloodletting is:

The withdrawal of blood from a patient to cure or prevent illness and disease. Bloodletting was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluids were regarded as "humors" that had to remain in proper balance to maintain health.

This practice was done from ancient times until near the end of the 19th century, but has all been abandoned.  Medically, it has been pretty well discredited.  However, I found the concept a useful way to describe a healthy way of mourning.

I don't always tell what inspires my blog posts.  But, this one I will share.  Anyone who knows me knows that my daughter, Olivia, is being raised in a broken home.  That is to say, her mom and I got split up when she was 4.  Obviously, this impacts Olivia and has hurt her.  But, as the parent who doesn't have primary custody of her, I see much less often.  I calculate about 30% of the time*.  Sometimes, I don't see her for about a week at a time, occasionally it is longer.  I always feel a sense of loss during these stretches.  While I am grateful that she has good health and I do get to see her--there are some who aren't that lucky, it still hurts.  The pain of the long stretches will always be there as I feel myself missing large blocks of her childhood, but I am better able to deal with the technique(s) I describe below:


In the Bible, God tells us:
1There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens  (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Furthermore, He lets us know there is a:
4a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance  (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

However, we don't always take that advice to heart. I used to be guilty of letting the hurt build up.  Sometimes I found constructive way to divert the energy: running, listening to music, etc.  Other times, I  utilized unproductive or destructive ways to divert the energy: impulsive spending, wasting all day watching TV or playing video games, moments of promiscuity, etc.  See:  Zig Zagging through life: Diverting our energy from where it is really needed.

Anyway, it wasn't until I got older that I really realized these: two things about dealing with hurt:
  • The power of prayer and faith. 
  • What I call bloodletting: Focusing into the hurt rather than avoiding it.  
God helps those who help themselves.  Our faith can help us through the toughest times and God can literally move mountains if we ask him to, I believe that God helps those who help themselves.  That is to say, He rarely removes all our pain,but instead gives us the tools and wisdom to deal with it effectively, thereby lessening it.


Back to my story.  In 2011 when I literally lost almost everything, including my brother to suicide and my daughter for a while to a contentious divorce, I had to find a healthy way to cope.   After trying to avoid it or coping in unproductive or destructive ways, I came to realize that I'd been dealing with hurt the wrong way for most of my life.   When I started seeing my daughter again and had to give her up to her mom--dropping her at daycare or school or directly to her mom--it really totally hit home.  The times I had to give her up for literally almost a week, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I would smile, hug her, kiss her, love her and put on the happy face, but as soon as I rushed back to my car, I would be devastated.  I came to understand the power of going into the pain or hurt, rather than trying to avoid it.  As I was driving off, I would literally flip my CD player or electronic device to sad music.  Sometimes, the more sad it was, the better.  In the privacy of my car on the way home or to work or wherever, I would literally find my inner pain, and like poison let it drain out--hence bloodletting.   I found writing to be a good tool in that regard too.  I had really started to find my inner voice after all those years.   While I know I am not a genius, I believe God blessed me with the gift of perception.  Once again, just like when I turned up the car stereo or ipod or whatever and forced myself to face the pain through sad music, I would write on what was bothering me, even to the point of having it hurt more.   Once again, I was 'bloodletting' or giving the poison of increasing hurt an outlet to flow out.

As an aside, as a child, I faced some real adversity.  Much of it I am not going to catalog here as I am sure I've cataloged it elsewhere and the adversity itself is not the main focus.  Anyway, I used to think of the adversity and the pain it caused as a curse, but now I see it as lemonade from a lemon.  Having faced certain things (and later in the 2010s even more adversity), I realized that had I had an easy carefree childhood and life, I would NEVER have been able to understand, relate or offer sincere encouragement to others who faced similar adversity.

I guess my takeaway from this is twofold:
  • Remember to lean on God when facing adversity rather than pushing Him away.
  • Looking into, stepping into, walking through the pain of adversity, while not very enjoyable, can be one of the best ways to release the hurt it is causing.

I labeled this one Demons, part 3 as I think it fits in with my other posts on "Demons".

Anyway, just my thoughts.  Thanks for reading and I hope my words, will impact at least one person.

-- Rich

* It's closer to 50% these days (2020)

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