I sit here today with a cold empty nothingness that once held someone important. I think to myself, Why? Why is living so goddamn hard? Why is pain so inevitable? Where is the padded room for my tender loving soul? Why is life a box of broken glass and why do I keep reaching into it?
I think about loving my husband. We have been together for seven years and this year has broken both of us. We are fragmented pieces, slivers of ourselves. We come before each other beaten bruised and exhausted. We lay before each other our wrinkled, crumbled, ripped apart hearts and ask each other, “Do you still love me?” The answer is yes and always yes. For so long we dressed each others wounds and wiped away the sad for each other. But now, today, we are just witnesses to each others pain. We are just here, watching, hearing, knowing what the hurt feels like. Seeing each other fight the battle ourselves because we are both defending kingdoms that are being attacked at all sides. We are fighting alone this year, but at least we are still fighting. There is no more disguising our hurt because we are both too bloodied to be presentable for each other. This year we have become so raw, and vulnerable and stripped. There is nothing I can hide from him now. I’m too messy for perfection.
I have been through so much pain. More pain than I ever thought I would have. I have felt feelings I never thought I would feel. Boring, sheltered, little me. The trapped little girl, writing poems about being free. I never thought I’d live a life worth talking about, and yet the pain aches in my fingers and begs to be written. Suddenly this year it all makes sense. Everyone around me hurts just as much as I do, and here I was thinking I was the only one. I thought the world might have owed me something because I hurt so much. I thought all this pain has a very special and specific purpose but everyone feels. Everyone hurts. I’m just one of the few who aren’t looking for the easy button. Here I am, learning to swim in this ocean. You laughed to yourself, didn’t you? Who can learn to swim in the ocean? I ask myself the same thing, no wonder this year has been so hard.
Religion was like the mayflower, taking me to a new world, but I jumped off the ship in search of my own private island. A place where existence makes sense to me. In the distance I spotted land and I swam and I swam but the currents over took me. I am washed up on shore now, learning how to survive, learning how to build a bigger boat because, unfortunately, you cannot learn to swim in the ocean. I am existing in this new world, painful as it may be.
I wished someone could do this all for me, but this is an unfortunate truth and a big pill to swallow, only I have to survive my life. I’ve moved past the point of asking for advice, no one can build my shelter, no one can tend my garden, no one can keep me alive, except me. I’ve stopped crying on shoulders, I have stopped wanting company. The compass is inside me now, and it’s up to me to be quiet and focused and listen. This world is mine, and I am going to make it something worth hurting for.
How do we stop the pain, how do we survive the hurt? We have to feel it first. I know the pain of your heart splitting open, I know the cries of healing and cleansing, I know the sting. I have felt it and I know how sometimes death seems easier than hurting so much! I know forgiving people who are not sorry, I know the weight of hurting another soft squishy soul. I have not only felt it, I have been a witness. I have patiently sat before my husband, quietly absorbing his tears as he heals his wounds him self. Here I am, I see your pain, I am a witness to the hurt and the torture. He has done the same for me. He has draped his presence over my body, as I weep in the fetal position over the pain of healing and the pain of growing.
It all hurts. I’m scared it will always hurt.
And what is the point of pain? Why allow the hurt to overwhelm? Maybe I hope it will make me stronger or maybe feeling it is what makes it go away. We keep talking about these things, until we stop crying about them, and then we keep talking until the bleedy messy wounds become scars. We keep telling our stories until we find the bright spot of hope. We keep feeling until it goes numb. We keep feeling until we outgrow this skin and start new.
I look at my beaten soul and I think, I have so far to go. I have been in recovery for so long and it feels like I am starting physical therapy and gaining my strength to survive again. And I want to get stronger, but that hurts too. IT ALL HURTS! Pain can no longer be avoided, not if I want to reach the places I have dreamed of. My challenge now is to let the pain of existence inspire me so that is no longer consuming me. So I write, and I draw, and I create. I want to take my wounds now and lay them before you and tell you the story of this hurt. I want to show you how I healed, I want you to know you can heal too.
When I was younger, I wished I would have stories to tell until the end of time. I wished my grandchildren would sit before me, drinking in my experiences, laughing at my mistakes and loving the story of this life I have lived. Little did I know how painfully complicated this would all be. Little did I know how much pain it requires to have a story worth living. Little did I know.
In case you are sitting here today, feeling hopelessly lost and unsure how much more pain you can handle, I’m here to tell you, I am a witness to your struggle. Just like you are witnessing mine. I cannot fix you, but I can know you, I can validate the hurt. I can let you know, it’s alright that it has consumed you, it’s alright that you have avoided feeling it, it’s alright that now is not the time to heal. When it is, remember, it all hurts for me too, and it hurts for everyone around us. There is no escaping this.
Existence is painful.
I see you hurting.
I know you because I am you.