What Pain Can Teach Us If We Listen

Yoann Boyer

They left me partially dressed and freezing in the snow. I woke up with blood between my legs. I couldn’t find my underwear. There was a bruise in the shape of a fist on my right thigh. I have no memory of how it got there.

Some people would say I was culpable. The heavy lidded bouncer with the gruff voice had to escort me from the establishment because I had been drunk, unable to stand, defiant of both the rules of conduct and the law of gravity.

My friends had seen this act before. They stayed inside the bar where it was warm, and shots were easily procured from local fraternity boys. I would fend for myself. They were assured.

Outside, it was cold. No one had remembered to grab my jacket during my hasty departure. I remember the first snowflake hitting the exposed skin of my forearm, before darkness. Years later, I would remember things in flashes…two distinct voices. Rough hands. Harsh laughter.

I cannot conjure their faces, but for years, I used to vomit at the season’s first snowfall.

Herman Hesse writes, “When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of it’s trunk, in the ring of its years, its scars, all the struggle.”

People become trees if you know how to look, and if you are unafraid to listen.

Recently, a man that I was just getting to know accused me of having an easy life. He accused me of being a pretentious little girl who could not possibly understand his brand of darkness. It made me bristle.

Can you find my lost underwear? I wanted to scream at him. Do you want the ultrasounds of the five children that I hemorrhaged between my own weary legs, or the years of therapy I endured to cease the war my mind waged against my own body?

Could he even fathom the deep abiding belief I held for far too much time that those men at that bar had broken me, ransacked inside my body, made me so unclean and unworthy that I feared that I would never birth a child? Did he know the blessing it was when I pushed my daughter from those same swollen legs that had been violently ripped apart years before?

Did he know the vast wave of shame that still assaulted me when I thought about the boyfriend I had who threw me out of his car and spit on me because I refused to give him a blowjob? Did he know the work it had taken for me to want to get to this place where I longed to posses ‘him’ fully and lustfully between the soft, sweet, power of my lips?

No, he did not know any of this because he was too distracted or afraid to listen.

Herman Hesse also wrote, “Whoever has learned to listened to the trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”

I did not need this man to listen to me. I had been brave enough to listen to him, and so therefore I could make myself happy. I believe the greatest struggle for any of us is to be vulnerable enough to listen to waves, to trees, and maybe even more so to the vulnerabilities of people, and to love what we hear, even when it scares us.

I have learned forgiveness. I forgive the winter that brought me men of snow and violence.

I forgive the beautiful dark horse of a man who did not see the value in my pain, or my story, I forgive the ex-boyfriend who tossed me like trash from the passenger side of his car, and this keeps me moving on the path to finally forgive myself. I am not there yet. I am an evolution.

People react to trauma in varying ways. My grief burned the epidermis of my being, and it made me extra sensitive to things. I cry at music and art. I even cry sometimes when I visit the ocean. Beautiful things overwhelm me. I am strong, but I can falter.

I often look for love in places outside of myself, and that leads to disappointment. But, the universe is gently encouraging me to detach, and I know that I will get there.

Ultimately, I believe that our human trials are simply messages from the universe reminding us that we are one with God because we are Gods, we are all the energy of stars and matter combined in harmony. All that is truly required to vibrate and sing with pure untouched beauty is to embrace all that we are, including the things we believe are tantamount to failure.

When we embrace all the varying dichotomies of our own spirit, we find ourselves with agency, and that is when we can create art from travesty. That is when we really learn to love. TC mark

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