Where I work, we get discounted and convenient flu shots. One day this week during lunch, I went down to get one.
I waited in line for about 10 or 15 minutes. A few places behind me in line were two coworkers. One of the women kept saying to the other, “I’m so scared. I’m sorry, I know it’s no big deal. But I’m just terrified of needles. I don’t know how I’m going to do this without crying. I just – I’m so scared. I hate needles.” And so on, in that vein.
This dredged up some rather ugly feelings in me. Primarily, I’m jealous of anyone who has the luxury of being scared of needles anymore. I mean, I never really was, but IVFers learn pretty fast to deal with any needle-fear, one way or another. I also had the irrational desire to tell this perfect stranger about all my injections so she would feel really badly and shut up. (Don’t worry, I didn’t do that.) I felt irritated that I was in the same line as the people who can afford to be frightened. Shouldn’t I get placed in the advanced patient’s line? The one where the people who’ve done this before can just slide on through, like using AP credit from high school to bypass college algebra?
I’ve been reading some Buddhist meditations lately. What I’ve taken from those readings is that in moments like these, instead of immediately prosecuting myself for what are irrational and hurtful feelings, I can instead simply acknowledge without judgment that the feelings exist, and allow them to pass.
I appreciate this advice deeply. There’s no guilt, and I am grateful to have discovered that it is possible to simply observe one’s feelings, with no requirement for passing judgment on them.
But, for the record: I was a totally brave girl five minutes later when I got my shot. (Observe. Observe, and pass.)