Pain is a strange thing. It’s beautiful and it’s horrifying and it’s been researched and reviewed and wondered about for centuries. I’ve read that the body refuses to remember specific types of pain, childbirth for instance. There are also the types that the mind will hold onto forever. Research shows that any pain lasting more than a few minutes leaves a trace in the nervous system. But that’s only physical pain- what about the emotional? Suppression or substitution are two ways of avoiding memories of painful or uncomfortable times, yet in the moment of emotional or mental pain it feels as if there is no way to reduce it other than chemically.
The type of anguish that leaves your body aching from emotional stressors, the kind that feels crushingly overwhelming and like it’s there to stay for good. It’s the type of pain that leaves your stomach in knots rather than full of butterflies and closes your throat and keeps you up at all the wrong hours and makes you want to sleep at the most inopportune times. The pain that stings like a wasp when you wake up and realize it wasn’t all a dream. I remember that pain vividly from the morning I woke up after my dad died.
It affects us all to varying degrees and I envy those who are able to let that wave of pain wash over them and release it or even savor it. I spoke last week with my mother about pain- not to the defeating degree that you feel during heartbreak or the loss of a friend- but the frustrating pain that comes when you feel like everything in spinning out of control and you can’t do anything about it. She reminded me of this “wave” and that to get through it; you just have to coast. I’m really not good at coasting. I’ve tried the mantra of thinking “calm” and “still” and it has helped; there are things out of my reign and I can’t do anything about that. There are still times when I’m in the throes of pain where I just want to be released and for time to pass or to succumb to the wave, because for all of my strengths- it can be very lonely going through damaged phases.
Going through pain in any form is exhausting. I just want someone to fight so badly for me to make it go away, to assure me that everything will be okay and that I am taken care of. I have yet to have found that here on Earth, yet I continue to wait. And I wait, and I wait for that fight. And then sometime later I wake up and the knot is gone. I can breathe normally and my eyes are clear of salt and realize that the time I spent waiting for someone to fight that away was the time I needed to heal.
It is almost impossible to fathom what some of my friends and peers go through with the pain they have dealt with for weeks, months, even years. Those that continue to push forward even though they feel like their lives are unraveling, when they lose the people they love the most, when they’re left choking on tears. There are some people I see that really never do get a pause in the agony, where the wave never breaks, and they’re left stinging day after day and I ache for them. In these moments of my own rawness I remember that I have felt happiness and love and warmth and that I am unreservedly and undeservingly blessed.
I pray that time and the way that it has healed my scars will soothe theirs and that when I come up for air after this swell, I’ll be able to remember those who are still swimming, thrashing in the water and reach out and hold their hand, to fight for them, or to let them know that this pain will go away. Sometimes that’s all we need. Sometimes it’s more. Sometimes it just can’t be fixed and maybe this time will remain jagged in their memories forever. I have to believe though that regardless of what we feel at each juncture of sadness whether it debilitating misery or the prick of grief that there is something happening beyond my comprehension, and I can release waiting for anyone to step in and fight for me.