One December morning, I woke up with appendicitis. I was rushed to the emergency room and was in surgery hours later. When I was in surgery, they gave me anesthesia so I didn’t feel any pain and painkillers afterwards for the healing process. I wasn’t in any pain after the surgery from my appendicitis and a few weeks later I was completely healed from the surgery incisions.
Sometimes if something hurts really bad, your body acts a defense mechanism and blacks out from the amount of pain you experience and you don’t quite have the pleasure of remembering it. A lot of the time, you will stub your toe and scream but minutes later you will forget it even happened.
But what happens when your emotions get injured, or sick, or even damaged? What happens when someone experiences trauma, or pure unfiltered heartbreak? You don’t get a blackout, and you most certainly don’t get anesthesia as you work on what’s bothering you. Sometimes you won’t remember all of the details of the days that follow the pain but you will remember experiencing the pain, because you had to be conscious for it.
After I found out my ex-boyfriend was simultaneously carrying a new relationship with another girl in addition to me, after just celebrating our two year anniversary, I slammed that door like a champ. I packed my bags, threw them in a U-Haul, and drove. It wasn’t until the days and months that followed that it really hit me. And it hit me like a ton of bricks.
It’s an interesting and humiliating feeling to process that the person you talked about spending the rest of your life with didn’t choose you at the end of the day. That feeling was pain. But it wasn’t like my appendix trying to rupture. It was worse. It was laying down at the end of the day and feeling like my brain was melting and my heart was dissolving inside of my chest. It was feeling like I was gasping for air as I was trying to make sense of what happened and how to move on from there. It was there and it was constant and I couldn’t let it go until I felt it all.
Pain is a fickle and a funny thing.
When I was a kid, my mom told me not to touch the iron. What did I do? I touched the iron and burned my hand. I cried for an hour. It healed and I learned not to touch it again. Problem solved. When I felt the immense heartbreak of my relationship ending, I thought the same thing. “Don’t go there again. Don’t touch that again. You’ll get burned but you’ll cry even longer.”
So, what happens next? Well, I go out with a different guy and I get scared to get too close to him and push him away. And then I kick myself, rinse, and repeat. I think, “Is it worth it?” “I’m going to be a dog lady forever, that’s fine.” Then I pull myself together and remember that even though there is pain, there is also the opportunity for immense joy. When a fire burns your house down, you can clean up the ashes and rebuild on top of it. You may not have what you used to have, but one day you can take a chance to build a newer, stronger foundation and make it everything you could have ever imagined.
If you’re going through a painful situation right now, my advice to you is to feel it all. It’ll hurt like hell. If there was a worse than hell, it would hurt like that. It’ll be like being branded with a hot iron, and sometimes you’ll muddle through it. Once you get a handle on it, it will lessen. It’ll come through in little waves instead of tsunamis and you’ll finally start to relax a little. Everyone is probably telling you, “It’ll get better.” And it’s probably pissing you off. But, please tell yourself it will. It always does.