Worse than Weltschmerz, it’s a degree of pain I’ve never felt before.

Spending a weekend afternoon in the park with one of my best friends, whose current identity is “young mother,” I find myself thinking about pain. Not the pain of childbirth, of which I know nothing except what I’m told, but the pains of childhood, of which I can only vaguely recall.

For her two-year-old is wailing, loudly, incessantly, piercing my ears. She fell on the gravel and skinned her knee. She’s inconsolable…briefly. Soon her mother’s love made everything all right, and she stopped crying. Maybe my hand-kissing her hurt place helped, too, I like to think.

But I also find myself thinking this:

What if her hurt knee had been caused by another kid, pushing her down or throwing a rock? The pain would have been far worse, wouldn’t it? Not the physical pain itself, but the mental pain. Call it anguish.

They say you can never remember physical pain. Once it’s gone, it’s really gone, and any memories are vague, never sharp, without clarity. But what about mental pain? At least for me, it’s always there, even in moments of ecstasy it hovers menacingly in the background. And it takes just the mildest of triggers to send it into the foreground. My forehead can actually hurt, though they say the brain itself has no sensation of physical pain.

  • My boyfriend goes limp and pulls out prematurely and says he couldn’t get Donald Trump’s latest bombast out of his head. The apparent fact that so many Americans like what Trump says is what’s so painfully worrisome. They must love to hate.
  • I turn in the memo I’ve been slaving over for days, and my boss doesn’t tell me, “Nice job!” Instead, he remarks, “Did you do something with your hair?” And I think of Donald Trump, whether he would consider me a “10.”
  • The Orlando massacre — that hateful, human-on-human horror — causes suffering enough without having Trump immediately tweet “Congrats” to himself about having been“right” about an inevitable “terrorist” attack.
I shut my eyes in (you choose): agony, torment, suffering, distress, angst, misery, sorrow, grief, heartache, desolation, despair, dolor.

There’s no single word that does justice to the pain except perhaps Trumpschmerz.