Hello, Pain

photo credit: Iva Villi

“This isn’t fair.”

This is a thought that appears in my mind over and over and over again.

I try something. It doesn’t work. “I’m just doing what they told me to do!” I cry. “Why isn’t it working?”

“Well, why don’t you do something else?” another voice says.

I cringe. “You don’t understand! I can’t break the rules.”

“Why not?” the voice replies.

Exasperation. “Because, you idiot, I just can’t.”

“But seriously, why not?”

Shifty eyes. “Because…” Voice gets small. “Because they’ll find out.”

“They?”

“Shhh!” Looks around. “I don’t know. Them. They’ll know. They’ll come for me.”

“Really?”

“YES!”

“Hm.”

“So I can’t.”

Thinking. “Well, maybe you’re right. Maybe they will come for you.”

Vindication. “They will! I know it.”

The other voice taps its chin. “How does it feel being right here right now?”

“Terrible.” I respond immediately.

“Will it really be worse if they come for you?”

“…”

“Just think about it.”

“Ok.”

There is a clearly a thing in me that is afraid of being hurt, punished, wounded, condemned, criticized, whatever. It organizes all of its activities around an attempt to stay safe from things that might do it harm.

The problem is that the act of doing so hurts very badly. It is a terrible strategy.

Let’s examine it. First, this part of me imagines things that could hurt it. Then, it attempts to ensure that these things can never happen.

But how does it do so? By rallying support from the outside. But how does it do that? By crying out for others to protect it.

In order for those cries to be heard, however, there has to be real pain behind them. So first it stabs itself, then it cries out in the pain of the self-inflicted wound.

“Help!”

But who can save me from myself? When the wounds are delivered from my own hand, who can make the pain stop?

The answer is no-one.

The answer is only me.

Well, how do I do that?

I don’t really know. But here’s a thought: if fear of pain results in the dropping of a shield that itself causes pain, perhaps the alternative is simply to welcome the pain that I can’t make go away. Not to seek pain, necessarily, but to know that pain is inevitable, and to resign myself to it.

Is it true that in trying to ensure that pain can’t get in, you just cause an endless amount of it?

I think this might be so.

Perhaps the thing to do is to simply give up the attempt to prevent pain. Maybe the thing for me to do is to recognize that pain is a part of life that is beyond my ability to control. “Hello pain.” “Hello fear.”

And more. Hello hatred, condemnation, vilification, demonization, all of the terrible possibilities that live in every human heart. Hello.

I certainly won’t let you into the world, but I won’t try to keep you out of mine, either.

Because, in the end, how can I keep these things out if their roots are in here?

This is something to perhaps think very carefully about.

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