Don’t Deny Your Pain

John Green 'The Fault in Our Stars'

John Green ‘The Fault in Our Stars’

I felt despondent.

Experiencing let down after let down and nothing working out the way that I had hoped was taking a toll on me.

I only shared my dismay with my inner circle (but I wasn’t even completely honest with them either) and for everyone else I wore a smile.

I wore a smile while standing in line and throughout my day I was sure to wave at everyone who passed by my way.

I was certain I had mastered the art of pretending to be okay and I was positive I had suppressed all of my pain.

I was certain that everyone was buying my act until I went to church and two weeks in a row different strangers were led to pat me on the back and inquire if I was okay.

‘Hmmm, that’s odd, what makes them think something is wrong with me’, was the thought that flashed through my mind.

But as quickly as it came I was sure to dismiss it.

I was quick to deny my hurt and I told the lie that I thought I had mastered and explained to them that everything was fine.

That inquiry was the first hint that people were on to my act.

The next time was when a stranger at church felt compelled to give me a hug and hold me deep to their chest and say “you will be okay”.

‘How do they know’, I wondered?

But still I thought I could fool people into believing that I was just fine, for surely it was simply a tell that I was giving off only because these were people I worshiped with.

So on I went planting that fake smile on my face and pretending that I wasn’t holding back tears that were desperate to burst.

I think the moment when it finally sank in that I wasn’t fooling a soul was when I went to work and more than one of my coworkers expressed their concern.

“Renata you don’t seem yourself.” one coworker said.

“Hey where is that smile you are known for?” another coworker inquired.

“You seem sad.” a third coworker stated.

They were on to me!

So I did what I had been doing to myself – I told them I was fine (I lied.)

That’s right I lied to them the same way I was accustomed to lying to myself.

But they didn’t seem to believe me so I did what people often do to cover a lie…. I told another one.

I told them I was in pain…

That would have been the truth had I left it at that but I was too prideful to leave it at that so I made sure to tell them the pain was physical. For I dare not allow them to know I meant it was emotional.

My half truth was so that I could allow the public to believe that I was a ball of positive energy and that nothing was troubling me.

I didn’t dare tell anyone outside of my most inner most circle that my dreams were being dashed one by one for such a great length of time that I was starting to grow afraid to hope.

Only my closest friends new my deepest hurts, and I didn’t even confess them all.

I mean how could I?

I wasn’t even confessing them to myself.

So only few knew I was struggling to press on and that I found it rather hard to keep the faith.

That would have been fine if I would had been honest and confessed to myself just how deeply I was hurting.

My reality was that on more than one occasion I had entertained the thought of giving up. Casting all my dreams aside and laying in my bed with the hopes that death would come to me. For surely my heart could not take hearing once again that yet another thing that I had been trying to achieve had slipped away from me.

I wanted to give up because this mountain seems far steeper than all the others.

I mean this mountain is relentless. It is as if she laughs at me and mocks my pain. It is as if she allows me to think that I am making progress only to later show me that my progress was faint.

I was so downcast that I strongly wondered if it was best I accept defeat and never dream again.

Night after night I drifted off to sleep with a broken heart and shattered dreams.

I don’t know how many tears I shed but I assure you I shed many.

But at some moment I realized it was okay to admit that I was not okay.

It was okay to accept that I was having a hard time and I felt hopeless.

Admitting that the pain was real was not being negative, it was the first step I needed to make to accept where I was at.

You see, even though I told my friends and family I was having a hard time I wasn’t completely honest with anyone including myself about the fact that I was in severe pain.

I mean this was bad.

This was pain like nothing I knew before.

I was bleeding and I was in desperate need of a tourniquet.

Yes, it was good that I was telling someone that I was having a hard time but it was bad that I was pretending that the pain wasn’t excruciating to a point that I felt helpless.

I would try to different tricks to numb the pain.

I would try to sleep through it, meditate through it, pray through it, talk through it, write through it, exercise through it, positively affirm my way through it. I tried everything except look to it.

I had to accept that it was there, it was real and it hurt.

I also had to stop trying to rush through it.

I had determined that if I could just figure out why I was having a hard time then the hard time would go away.

If I could just figure out what I had done wrong, what the purpose of my pain was, what was the lesson in it, and/or how I could become a better person that the pain would most certainly stop.

I wanted the pain to go away as quickly as possible.

I felt she was far too harsh a taskmaster to bear and I had no desire to work with her any longer.

But I had a choice, I could either give up and not try again or I could press through and keep going.

Giving up on yourself is illogical when you think about it. Because giving up only produces one result – you won’t make it. You won’t fulfill your purpose and you won’t achieve your higher call. Trying is the only way you stand a chance at succeeding.

I made the decision to set my face like flint and keep going.

I decided that giving up on me is not an option for me.

I am the person that had a child at 16 and still went on to earn her high school diploma before reaching her 17th birthday.

I am the person that got married at 18 and went on to get a Master’s Degree from one of the top rated schools in the US with three babies on her hip all while being married to someone in the military and traveling across the country.

I am the person that raised three children while my former spouse was sent on military deployment after military deployment for a span of 13 years.

I am the person doctors looked at and told they believe that I may have multiple sclerosis for which there is no cure.

I am the person who became a single mother of three beautiful teenagers and one of which is learning disabled.

I am the person that survived heart aches from the tragic deaths of loved ones and other devastating heart breaks.

I am the person that had the courage to pick up my things and move across the country in the hopes of a better future for my children and myself.

So how could I let this time in my life break me? None of those things were my tragedies, they were all my victories. Each one of them made me a better Renata. They strengthened my spirit, taught me valuable lessons, made me more compassionate and showed me I can make it.

I have come too far and overcome too many hurdles to let this moment in time break me.

There is no hole too deep that I cannot be pulled up from out of.

For I am made of the stuff of champions.

So I am no longer lying to myself and I now admit that my pain hurts and that I don’t like it. I am not going to deny it but I am also not going to dwell in it.

I stopped being ashamed of the place I am at. This moment is not made to break me it is made to prepare me, and to make me.

Realize, exercise hurts but if done correctly it produces beautiful results.

“Nothing is happening to me, but rather everything is happening for me.”

Do I want to go home and pull the covers over my head? – Why yes, sometimes I most certainly do.

But here is the thing each day is filled with new hope and new possibility and I have decided to believe in myself enough to know that I am growing, I am expanding and I can move mountains.

I don’t need to go around telling people “my woe is me” story but I must admit to myself that I am going through a trying time in my life and I find it particularly.

Once I accepted my reality something funny happened.

I decided to stop looking for it to pass. I decided to stop shaking my fist to heaven wondering what is its meaning and what is its purpose. And I started to see beauty in the mist of my storm.

For deep down…deep, deep down in the pit of my soul I know why I am going through a hard time.

It isn’t to punish me, break me or hurt me. Nope it is here to make me a better me. I need this to prepare me for my next stage.

I love myself far too much to give up.

I love myself enough not to continue lying to myself and denying my pain.

For as the author John Green writes “Pain demands to be felt.”

This doesn’t mean I go around like a blubbering idiot, crying out “woe is me”. And it doesn’t mean that I share intimate details of my story with everyone who inquires. But it does mean I stopped trying to numb the pain.

There is a fine line between “faking it until you make it” and lying to yourself.

I have often heard Byron Katie say “I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.”

I am all for being positive, I am all for having faith but numbing pain in attempt to deny that you are hurting is denying reality.

When someone dies – it hurts.

When a relationship falls a part – it hurts.

When someone steals from you or deceives you – it hurts.

When you don’t get the job or the promotion – it hurts.

When the doctor says you have a terminal illness – it hurts.

Other people may feel far better if you would just slap a smile on your face and skip around as if life was all rainbows and sunshine.

But love yourself enough to be honest with yourself.

Love yourself enough to nurse yourself back to wholeness.

Love yourself enough to recognize that even though you are going through a hard time you are made up of the very stuff it takes to overcome it.

Don’t look at it as a punishment, the storm is not here to destroy you, it is here to wash away the things you don’t need and allow you to gather the things you do need. Within the debris that is left behind is the very things you are going to need to rebuild.

The old house you had was good, it provided you with the shelter you needed for that season, but there were some cracks in your foundation and it time to rebuild a stronger house for the next season.

I know it is tempting but don’t remain bitter during rebuilding. You will get splinters, but be sure to remove them when at all possible. You will get callouses but massage them and apply ointment to soften them.

I must confess that there are times when people quote me a scripture or give me a platitude in the hopes of lifting my spirits during my time of suffering and in all honesty I am chagrin to say that what comes out of my mouth and the thoughts that go through my mind at some of those times are venomous and not from a positive place.

But that is being human.

Recognizing that those negative emotions are there helps me to deal with them. Pretending they don’t exist causes me to suppress them only for them to arise at an unfortunate time. Because the negativity will only mount and eventually it will explode.

Truly it is natural to be angry, it is natural to feel hurt and it is natural to feel pain during times of disappointment.

But don’t rest your hat there and decide to dwell in it. For that is a good way to remain in the doldrums for far longer than is necessary.

Acknowledge pain and sit with her for as long as you need to, but not one second longer.

She is not meant to stay.

She is meant to alert you, to refocus you, to transform you – but not to stay with you.

Many people will try to tell you to only say good things and to always speak positive.

But I argue that confessing how you truly feel in truth with a close friend is a good thing and that lying and pretending you are okay is unhealthy. Furthermore, lying to yourself is detrimental, so always be honest with yourself.

Feel your pain, don’t try to numb it. That is how you make your way through it.

People can see you are hurting, you aren’t fooling anyone so you may as well acknowledge your truth.

For I was believing the lie that I was telling others that I was okay, and that was not okay.

Realize it is okay to admit, you are not okay.

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman and RenataNicole, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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