Pain is something that we all go through but hate to acknowledge because there is something about it that is so visceral and unappealing that it is uncomfortable to bring it up in casual settings such as coffee dates or house parties. Pain is ugly, and it hurts and it has a way of making an otherwise happy person develop a bitterness so intense it rivals old people’s coffee.
Some pains are too overwhelming to feel all at once, so we find ourselves watching cheesy TV at three in the morning with bleary eyes and a vague sense of dread. And during the day, when we’re at work, or out with friends, or out for lunch, we’ll catch a murmur, a mention, a scent, and that dread will materialize into something concrete as it washes over us and we sink once again.
And so we hide our pain. We drown it in alcohol, we cloud it under puffs of smoke, we take shelter in the warmth of another in hopes that these temporary distractions will permanently rid us of the constant ache we feel. Or we hide ourselves. We cower under a blanket of anger, of excuses, of “I told you so” and “it’s all your fault,” because anything is better than facing the situation at hand.
We work until our bones creak and our brains tire and still we refuse to acknowledge our pain, chanting “I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine” until our faces turn blue and we run out of breath.
None of these ever really work; in fact they do everything but. To quote a tremendously over-quoted author, that’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt. And the more time we spend repressing it, the more time it has to multiply itself until it completely invades our brains and we end up doing something stupid like crying at the back of a Wendy’s. Not that I’m speaking from experience.
But the important thing is that we all try. We’re all trying and not all of us are going to get it right. That’s okay. It’s all a part of learning. Pain is a lump that takes root in the middle of our chests and uses up space in our throats. But in this life, the only way to get rid of it is to keep going. To keep pushing and stretching and growing to the point where the pain that once pulsed and coursed through our veins so vividly fades to a dull ache.
Once someone told me to let hurtful things hurt, and, aside from deleting every selfie I’ve ever taken in middle school, it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.