There Are Problems Far Worse Than Mine, I Must Remember That

Jad Limcaco

When life hits me hard, I fight. I fight until I’m exhausted, filling my schedule with more and more until I break down, believing that the busier I am, the happier I’ll feel. I’ll fight until I can’t breathe because I’ve reached the point where I’m so overwhelmed I can’t do anything but sit in my car and let the tears pour down my cheeks. I’ll fight until I can hardly move because I’ll get on that treadmill and run until my legs burn, thinking that the harder I push myself, the less pain I’ll feel, which isn’t the case, no matter how many miles I run. I’ll fight until I collapse.

And then, when I reach that point, I’ll feel like my whole world is ending.

Do you know what I mean? That moment when you’ve reached your low? When you’ve tried so hard to either fight, or ignore, or get past your pain and you just can’t? That moment where you surrender? That moment where you let whatever’s been breaking you finally win?

It feels like you’re losing control. It feels like everything and everyone around you has turned their backs and there’s nowhere for you to go. It feels like the hardest, most painful thing in the world.

My life is over, right? It can’t get any worse than this.

I don’t know about you, but I get so caught up in my own burdens sometimes. I have those moments where I obsess over everything that’s wrong in my life. I bawl. I sit in that car and cry over something small because I feel overwhelmed. I think the ache in my chest is the most important, most painful thing in the world. And that’s so damn selfish.

Let me ask you this: How many times have you had to stand in the mirror and check yourself? Tell yourself to get ahold of your emotions? Remind yourself that even though you feel awful right now, you still have it so good?

I have to do this quite often.

Maybe it’s because I’m an emotional person, maybe it’s because I want so desperately to have my life figured out, maybe it’s because I put so much ridiculous pressure on myself to be perfect, but when I fail or go through something painful, I freak out.

And I continually have to remind myself of my blessings, of all that I have, of the strength I’ve been given through faith, of what I’ve gone through that will help me get through the current situation.

I have to remind myself that there are problems far worse than mine.

And this is not to diminish or write off my pain, but to make sense of it, to level it, to find a place for it amongst the suffering of others.

I have to stop thinking my feelings are the most important; I have to stop being selfish and start focusing outwards, rather than in.

Because this world isn’t about me. It isn’t about the awful things I’ve gone through/are going through, but how I can take those awful things and write them into something beautiful. It isn’t about wanting the world to stop just because my heart hurts, but acknowledging that I’m not alone in feeling this way and instead of focusing on myself, I can reach out to others with the same brokenness.

There are stressors more terrible than what I’ve experienced. There are dramas more profound. There are lives affected by greater, more disastrous things and I need to remember that when I’m sitting in my car, tears streaming down my cheeks, wondering, Why me?

Because it’s not all about me.

I have to put my pain in perspective. I have to trust in God. I have to stop wishing my life was ‘better’ or ‘different’ when I reach a low point and instead remind myself of all the good I’ve had and all the good yet to come.

I don’t know if you’re like me and you struggle with this, making yourself a victim to your own pain, letting your hurt heart make you selfish in a world filled with so much brokenness. But I wish for you the same thing I wish for myself—that I slowly start to see outside myself. That I remember there are people with problems far greater, and if I can look around me, rather than keeping my eyes and heart focused on what I think I need, maybe I can be a greater help.

And maybe that can help me, and others, to let go of pain and exchange it for hope. TC mark


Marisa Donnelly is a poet and author of the book, Somewhere on a Highway, available here.

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