Sometimes pain is like rain, it just keeps on coming…when it rains, it pours! Our lives can be like this at times. Sometimes we will have a drought with no pain for awhile. It lulls us into complacency and denial. We think life is great and we’ve finally found a way to be happy. Then the forecast changes and the outlook sucks for an undetermined amount of time.
Why is life so hard? I’ve asked myself this question many times. It is hard for me to comprehend why we have to go through what we go through. I have to admit, some of us will go through more than others. Fair? Nope. Reality? Yep. I’ve asked God many times why I’m facing certain challenges or forced to wait so long for something I want. The best answer I’ve been able to find is that it usually does make me stronger, wiser, and better able to relate to other people who are in pain. I can look back at my painful memories and it helps me to know how to encourage other people through their pain.
As a counselor, I sometimes feel guilty if I haven’t had a certain experience, yet I’m trying to help someone else through it. Thank God I don’t have to experience everything to be an effective counselor. A good friend of mine just had a baby. A couple weeks after he was born the doctor heard a heart murmur. A routine check-up quickly became an ongoing nightmare of tests and surgery with many more tests and surgeries to come in the future. They found that her son had a hole in his heart and his aorta was not functioning properly. Being in the hospital watching your child suffer and go through so much when they are so small and vulnerable is like being in hell. I don’t have to be a mother to empathize with and support my friend. You realize who your real friends are when tragedy strikes.
It is hard to be there for others while they are going through pain, but that is usually when people need their friends most. There isn’t anything I can say that will make my friend’s son better, but just knowing that I care and can give her a hug may help her get through those dark moments. It may also be helpful for me to run errands or make a meal for her while she is so focused on her son right now. There are plenty of things people can do for others while they are in pain, even if you don’t really know what its like to feel their pain.
However, I do realize now that my own painful experiences have made me a more compassionate and empathetic person. I believe this is why 12 step programs are so effective to helping people stop addictive behaviors. Someone is there who understands the pain of recovering from addiction. They can help guide others through it. The person helping also may begin to feel a sense of purpose for the pain they had to go through. Pain can be a powerful connection for people. Misery does love company. Many great songs, poems, books, plays, movies and art are written and created out of extreme places of pain. They become so popular because so many people can relate in some way to another persons pain. It helps me to process my pain by listening to music or reading a book. It seems wrong, but it helps me to know I’m not the only one who wins the bad lotteries in life.
The best way to handle pain is to try to stay balanced. There is a time to feel to feel sorry for yourself, but there is also a time to pick your head up and keep moving forward. Its okay to be sad and to cry. Its also okay to have a good time and pretend things are okay for a few hours or a day. Don’t sit in pain too long and don’t avoid pain for too long either. Neither of those things is good to do for a prolonged period of time. It is also okay to depend on others. It is humbling to ask for help, but sometimes this is the best thing for us. Pain has a way of cutting through what you want and forcing you to see what you need. Letting someone else take over can be a valuable lesson that again helps us to be more thankful. I know now that lots of beautiful things can come out of painful experiences. Like a rainbow forms when the sun finally peaks back out after a storm. If you are going through extreme pain now, hopefully someday soon you will be in a better place. Maybe you will be able to see the reason for all the pain in time. Until then, deal with it in the best way you know how and know that you aren’t alone. Life does have its ups and downs. I do believe what has gone down, eventually will go back up!