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  • This post is exactly what it says in the title. A Brain Dump.

This is my third or fourth post in twenty-four hours, deal with it.

I do a lot of reading, fiction mostly; I find that a lot of non-fiction isn’t welcoming, it’s the prose style. When people write fiction they are chopping themselves up into millions of tiny pieces (like in Mike TeeVee in the Gene Wilder Willy Wonka) and throwing them down on the page, where they rearrange themselves into words. Granted this is metaphorical. But when they write non-fiction they hold themselves apart from it, and okay to be fair some topics require a little distance, but the writer should still be there in the words. There are exceptions to the rule, my favourite is Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. It is a book I never would have read if it hadn’t been for one of my writing classes at university – you do an exceptional amount of reading in a writing paper, sometimes more than in a literature paper. But Stiff is the exception, not the rule. I don’t know how many of you have read my books, but I try to always write like I’m inviting you in – goodness only knows if I have succeeded. And as you can probably tell, when I’m writing non-fiction [it’s a fancy way of saying blog] I write like I’m having a conversation (albeit a one-sided conversation) with you/my reader. I do the same when I write long hand in a journal too, even my notes as research are written as if I’m conversing with myself.

You probably aren’t familiar with the song Four Seasons in One Day by Crowded House but Crowded House are one of my favourite kiwi bands – and evidence that the bulk of my childhood was in the ’90s. And to tell you just a tiny bit about the song, Auckland is world famous in New Zealand for having what certainly seems like four seasons in one day, though it happens elsewhere too. But, do you ever have a day where it’s like that inside your head? Well, that’s the story of my day. I have been all over the mental/emotional roller-coaster.

I know I’m not alone in this, I know that everyone feels like this sometimes. But we don’t talk about it. I’m a talker. I talk about anything and everything, often without any real knowledge on the subject. Let me tell you the one thing that pissed me off more than any other. The Code of Silence. When I was 21 and pregnant, I was terrified beyond belief and a slave to unreasonable, insane emotions. Hello hormones. I could find out any fact about pregnancy – this is the age of the internet after all.What I could not find out, from anyone, was how I would feel. Sure, I’ll give you the fact that every pregnancy is different, and every woman reacts just a little differently. But my own mother gave me the run around when I asked her the hard questions.
The night my son was born, I swore to him and myself that I was going to put an end to The Code of Silence. It stops with me. But you should be sure that you want the real answer before you ask.

It’s more than just The Code of Silence though. I can’t hide what I’m feeling, completely incapable of it. There is only one time where people get it wrong, and it’s when I’m so mad that I start crying.
While I was pregnant, I had almost daily roller-coasters of: I’m going to be the best Mum ever! to Maybe I should put the baby up for adoption…? I’m not proud of it, but I own it. And if you were to meet me in person I will always say that my son is the best thing that ever happened to me and I’m so glad that I chose to keep him. Then there are days like today, where I’m crying in the shower thinking how much better off he would be if he had a better mother. He’s not even here, he’s with his father for another two days. If he were here, he would hug me, and tell me that he loves me, and that I’m the best mummy in the world, and the most beautiful mummy in the world, and that he never wants to live any where that I’m not. And then my heart nearly explodes with love for this boy. That’s when I wonder how I could ever feel like he should be somewhere that I’m not. I try really hard to love him so much more than any one has ever loved their baby – it’s how I try to make up for those moments when I know he deserves for me to be better.

I tried to find a clip of the EMH from Star Trek Voyager to show you what days like today feel like. But it would seem that you’re just going to have to go and watch [s03e18] The Darkling for yourself to find out what I mean. But what I really hate is how it’s okay to feel this way when you’re pregnant, because you can blame it on the hormones; but it’s not okay to feel this way when he’s 8. I know that I’m a good mum, I know it because I have the most wonderful son. Feeling like he deserves better means that I want more for him than I can give – and trying anyway. I know I’m a good mum, I don’t need anyone’s validation on that but his. And when he can come to me at 7 and ask how babies get out of their mummy’s tummies, and then apologise [unnecessarily] for hurting me… I know I’m doing something right. I’m not going to lie, I may then excuse myself so I can laugh without hurting his feelings.

I don’t know about you, but I read a handful of really uplifting books every year; it’s a genre that I find easier to watch. Movies like 23 Blast, and a whole host of others that I can’t name right now. Where the people/characters have an almost superhuman drive. Where they go above and beyond what we expect of the human body. Where they do what seems impossible to the rest of us. But they also work just that much harder, and that’s the part that we forget. I could be an athlete again, but do I want to work that hard? Because where I am right now, it’s not just about getting fit and losing 20kg. I’m not 20kg overweight, I’m 40 or 50kg overweight. I don’t enjoy cardio anymore. I love resistance/strength training, I’m the only person I know who loves leg day. But I would have to learn to cook in a whole different way, you can’t eat the way I do if you want to be an athlete. Not that I would ever give up my wholefoods, I try to keep my processed foods to a minimum. It’s funny how the sticking point is the cardio. I walk all over the place, because I don’t drive; but getting past a power walk and it starts to hurt. Pain.
Back in the ’90s my dad got me a drink bottle that said: ‘No Pain, No Gain’, and that was the drink bottle that I took to school everyday. I don’t know when it happened exactly, but at some point I learned to avoid pain. The people that we read about, the people they make movies about, who do these incredible things, they accept that pain is going to be a part of the process. That it’s part of the deal. I mean have you ever seen a ballet dancer’s feet? Their feet make me hurt looking at them, but they dance on those feet as if they are dancing on air – and worse they make it look exactly that easy to do.

When did pain become something to be afraid of? Am I really just that soft? Is it that I have a low pain threshold?

To quote Sara Donati’s Into the Wilderness again:

“Does tattooing hurt?”
Yes of course.
“Then why do you do it?”
…”The pain is important.”
…She wasn’t surprised, now, to hear him accept the pain as a natural and necessary thing…

The tattooing in the quote would have been done with tappers, not a machine, or even hand-poked.
As a modern society we have an evolving relationship with pain. We willingly get painful body modifications, tattoos, piercings. And yet because of how much pain was simply a part of daily life even just 100 years ago, we seem as though we are getting softer, less able to handle pain – the reality is that we are learning when pain is self-inflicted (body mods, and too much exercise), and when it’s bad and needs to be looked at (actual injuries, and illness), as well as having sufficiently advanced medical care that getting it seen to means that we can get back to what we love sooner. So no, on the whole I don’t think we’re softer, I think we’re smarter. But we are increasingly going out of our way to avoid pain… and that I know is not such a great thing. We humans are a bit thick at times, and pain is how we learn. It’s how we learn both our limits, and how to do it better so that it doesn’t hurt in the future.

And I still don’t want to run, because that burning in my lungs… lets just say I’d rather give birth again… maybe.
So now you now, I’m just as messed up as everyone else; it could be more so… but I doubt it, I’d say I’m on par.