Sometimes life hurts.
This is something we all know. Hell, the mere act of being birthed is probably painful—being squeezed and pulled and prodded into a less comfortable, brighter, louder, more chaotic new world. (Plus, I think gravity just has to suck after being a relatively freefloating form for the entirety of your previous existence.)
Pain is a natural response to damage. It's the body's way of telling us something is not right. We are injured or in danger or did something outside the scope of our normal limitations. Pain is a necessary device of physical form.
But I'll skip the physical pains associated with being human; I'm pretty sure we're all well-familiarized with bumps and bruises and accidents—the inflictions and afflictions that become our personal histories, filled with anecdotes of our agonies.
It's the emotional pain that is so often the most debilitating and longest lasting. Whether it be pain from an outside source or from inside ourselves, our souls are molded by both the nature of the damage and the way in which we react to it.
Jealousy, anger, sorrow, grief... all signs of emotional pain and some kind of damage. Betrayal, malice, negligence, parting, death... all naturally occurring events in virtually everyone's lives.
But it is how we face these pains that determines if and when and how we heal from them.
Sometimes the damage is minor—your best friend canceled dinner plans with you, again, to see her sometimes boyfriend. Sometimes it's more substantial—the death of a beloved pet. And sometimes the harm is so great—betrayal by a lover, death of a close loved one—that we find ourselves paralyzed, both physically and emotionally, in that injury, unable to escape the constant gnaw of harrowing discomfort.
Just like it's physical counterpart, emotional pain is a necessary part of life. If we are to move forward on our paths—whether individually or with another—we must encounter hardships. To never feel the deepest despair means we will never feel the greatest joy when the pendulum swings back the other way. And it will; it always does.
If it ebbs, it will flow.
If there is no counterbalance, if we are always in the middle of the road, we can never fully appreciate the wonderful without fully understanding the terrible.
When emotional hurdles are tossed onto our paths, we do have options:
Stop. Become still in your life and never get past that place in time.
Go around it. Pretend it wasn't there and keep moving forward. Any time we look back, that hurdle will still be there.
Destroy it. Smash it. Bulldoze through it. Throw it into the briars. It's still there, even in bits and pieces, but now we're exhausted from the exertion.
Go over it. Jump, climb, crawl or step—whatever works best. Conquer the insurmountable in the way that suits each of us best. It can still be tiring, but the force of energy needed to deal with the hurdle is manageable.
Regardless of how we choose to deal with the obstacle, it's still an obstacle. It warrants respect and reverence for being important enough to alter our path, no matter how long or short its wielding of influence may be.
The key to healing from the damage that's causing such anguish is to feel it, to recognize and accept that we cannot go up until we hit bottom. We must let our feet touch the hard depths in order to get our footing and push off again, bounding to the top. Floating freely and erratically in our pain may feel comforting for a while, oddly reminiscent of being in utero, but it will not end until we push hard toward the light at the end of the tunnel that is still squeezing and contracting around us as we go.
It's incredibly difficult to watch someone you love live their pain. We want to protect those closest to us from harm, but it's impossible. The acting of even trying to protect them can inflict more damage than we can imagine. Everyone has to deal and heal in their own way and in their own time. Sometimes the best we can do is to offer help—a bandage, stitches, or a hand to squeeze when the pain is too much. Sometimes a lullaby or a soft shushing will be support enough. And sometimes all we can do is mutely watch them fall, waiting for them to hit their bottom and come bounding back, rushing toward their light. Our love may cushion them, but it can never fully break their fall.
Sometimes pain leaves scars. My physical scars are like a topography map of what I've seen and where I've been, but they are a manifestation of healing from deep trauma and heartache that was inflicted by others but mostly by myself. At the core of me, I am the same person I've always been, but that old Stephanie isn't exactly the same as the one I am now. I am grateful for the comprehension of joy and love and truth in ways I'd never experienced before, even if it comes from having my world and my head turned upside down. I am sometimes disgusted by the proof of my own self-inflicted carelessness, but I also understand that it's made me better able to pause in my journey when needed, to ask myself if the choice before me is healthy or unhealthy. It's all proof that I was, and still am, ready and able to move forward, no matter what obstacles lie ahead.