Saturday, September 09, 2006

When OUCH Happens

Today Donica and I made the decision to cancel my trip to Germany on Sunday. For me, it's a big OUCH. Besides missing Hannover, I was gonna see Christina and Dixie Peach next week. But it's the right decision. Donica has an appointment with the surgeon on Tuesday to discuss another option besides surgery for her ilioinguinal nerve and I want to be there. I need to be there.

Let me tell you something:

You might not be able to see it but Nicholas is crying in this photo after just hurting himself while playing catch with Daddy last Spring. Notice how his body language is crying out for empathy!

Daddy gives him empathy and within minutes Nicholas is comforted.

Here's some background. Back in 1974/5 when Amy was a wee lass (2, almost 3), Bill and I took a PET (Parent Effectiveness Training) class. We were first-time parents and wanted to do it as right as possible.

One thing I learned that I will never forget (I've even used it with Nicholas) is what to do when your kid falls and, for instance, scrapes his knee. The typical response, especially with boys (sad to say), is: "Oh, c'mon! Quit being a cry-baby! That's nothing. It can't possibly hurt that bad! Boys aren't supposed to cry."


We were taught that what the child needs to hear is that YOU know how much it hurts. Once he knows, he'll usually stop crying. Bingo! Every time we tried that technique with Amy, then Mark, and now Nicholas, it works. I will make the appropriate grimace with moaning and groaning sounds and the "Ohhhhhh. I'm so sorry!" And without fail, the hurt is suddenly better, if not gone.

Segue now to those times when we are in emotional pain for whatever reason. Someone close to us has just died. Or we've just been with someone we love and have to say good-bye to them for awhile. Or all our plans seem to fall apart! When those times happen, what we need more than anything else is the moaning and groaning of those around us. It's their way of telling us, often without words, that they feel our pain.

Than Magic happens: the pain or sorrow of the one is dissipated by the empathy of the other. Whether it's "vicarious" or "substitutionary," it's magic. It becomes the greatest healing agent.

This has been a crazy, wacky, full-moon, lunar-eclipse week! A roller-coaster week of emotions! But today, when Donica felt my pain about not going to Germany and when she knew that my being with her was more important than anything, because I felt her pain, the week's tension rolled off our shoulders. We both felt it.

Isn't that how it's supposed to be when OUCH happens?!


  1. oh ginnie - I think I've had a rollercoaster week as well. Besides too many nerves in my stomach to handle, I ended up with a weird bug which a friend caught last week. We spoke today and confirmed our systoms so I figured out why I was out of it...

    I'm still out of it, and well I'm feeling better and this post makes me smile. I don't need sympathy for it either. Just some good old rest, vitamins and hoping that you guys are on your way to see me in a few weeks.


    Funny enough though, I still swam...

  2. ET: So sorry you've had a bum week physically. How we feel on all levels, emotionally, spiritually, physically, makes a big difference in how we function day to day. So glad you still swam because that kind of positive energy for you undoubtedly helps the healing process. I'm still holding out for our week of vacation, which we NEED after all this hullabaloo.

  3. Love is connecting with the part of the other that is like us. When we pay that kind of attention, it is like magic, it begins healing.

    Great post.

  4. There have been many times when Garland and I have said to each other, "I haven't gone through this exactly, but I love you and feel your pain with you."

    I agree that it is a healing catalyst.

  5. I completely agree. The world on a macro level could use more of this idea.....

  6. That is sooo true. And yes, this week was quite of an emotional roller coaster for me as well. Hope all goes well for Donica :-)

  7. Ruth: Love is what this is all about! Yes.

    Mrs. M/Shari: Yes again!

    James: Another yes.

    CS: YES! And may your own roller coaster level out, finally!

  8. You are lucky to have eachother!

  9. Oh yes, empathy is just the very best medicine, isn't it? I think it's SO important not to minimize anyone's pain, be it physical or emotional. What might seem like a blip on the radar screen to one might be a tragedy to another and we need to recogize that.

  10. Very well said, Christina. I like that!

  11. Oh, Ginnie, I'm sorry for you and Donica both and these things do hurt and disappoint. But I like the approach the two of you are taking to the situation. Thank you for sharing like this.

  12. Ginnie - What a great post, full of so much wisdom! The healing power of empathy coupled with thoughtful words of encouragement can never be underestimated. Thanks for such a poignant reminder.

  13. Thanks, Dennis, for being one of the empathic healers!

  14. So sorry to hear of your troubles hope everything gets straightened out soon!

  15. Thanks, Jozee. I'm hopeful we're at the end of it!

  16. Empathy is what this World is missing most! I love your post. :) One of your best! :)))