some thoughts on pain

In child birth classes they try to teach you to work with the contractions, to embrace them and let them wash over you. All I remember from child birth was fighting that pain tooth and nail, bracing myself against the hospital bed as each contraction came. All I remember from the majority of my life is fighting the pain tooth and nail too.

The week Jim told me he wanted to leave was horrible. The shock, the fear, the rejection, the pain. I remember holding all of those huge feelings at arms length for fear that I would sink so far into them that I wouldn’t be able to get back out. I was so, so afraid of feeling what his leaving me meant. It wasn’t until I started therapy, two years later, that I learned to work with the pain, to let it wash all over me and to feel everything. (And dammit, once I decided I was going to feel, I determined to feel the shit out of every single feeling that came.) It’s amazing how once you decide that you’re not going to fight the pain anymore, you start to heal so much faster. I lived with this festering wound for years and as soon as I decided to face it, it immediately started healing. (Now there’s barely a scar. It’s amazing how these memories are getting blurry with distance and healing.)

Here’s the thing about pain: It’s not like fear which is completely irrational and without any value whatsoever. Pain has a purpose. I believe it to be one of life’s greatest teachers and I think that’s why God doesn’t much care if we are in pain or not, because he 1. knows we can handle it and 2. knows that it is his very best tool. Actually I think that God hates seeing us in pain, but he allows and even welcomes it in our lives because he knows that sparing us the pain would rob us of the lessons pain brings.

The only way I could have gotten here – so happy and alive and whole – is because of the pain. There was no other way to learn these lessons. I had to feel it, see it, accept it and embrace it. And it was so, SO worth it.

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