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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Embrace the Hurt to Feel Better

"You can close your eyes to the things you don't want to see, but you can't close your heart to the things you don't want to feel." -Johnny Depp

You've been there, you know the feeling...Hurt, the kind that causes you to drop to your knees, lay on the floor or curl into a ball and weep (or at least wish you could). The world is temporarily upside down and time momentarily stands still. Part of you wants to throw up, the other part is making verbal ultimatums to a higher power swearing off your biggest vices if the pain will just cease. No guys, I'm not talking about a kick in the crotch, I'm talking about internal pain, the kind that leaves invisible scars.   You find yourself doing a quick recap of your life and all the painful moments and trying to put this new pain in it's place, 'Ah yes, it's worse than when good ol' Sparky died, but not quite as bad as when my fiance backed out two days before the wedding.' The scary part is, that first initial sting you feel is only the beginning. I have always sort of envisioned it like being shot with an arrow, that first hit is going to bring some tears, probably a few (several) bad words, but our mind is so powerful and it goes into auto-pilot mode and releases shock and denial as a way to self-protect. If we were forced to really absorbs the hurt from some situations all at once, we might just explode.

Here is where things get messy. Have you ever visited Denialville? It's a large town with nice people, great views, and an abundance of happily-ever-afters. Frankly, it's comfortable. Who wouldn't want to stay here awhile? Denial gives relief from the hurt, and a false sense of hope. So, instead of pressing on through Denialville and pulling out the Arrow of Hurt, we hang out here for awhile. We take a few strolls down Memory Lane, toss a few pennies in the Fountain of What Should Have Been and drive up to the Wishful Thinking Lookout-what a view! The time we spend here varies by person and circumstance. I personally have a frequent visitor punch card to the What If Cafe. There are several problems with Denialville, but the biggest one is simply that while you are there visiting, the rest of the world continues to go on as normal. School, work, family, friends, life, it all just keeps moving forward. Then, by the time you decide to leave Denialville, you are playing catch up. So my advice? Familiarize yourself with what denial sounds and looks like, and drive right on through. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

So now what? It's time for the Arrow of Hurt to be removed. This is the moment where it's time to embrace the hurt. You have to look yourself in the mirror and be honest with yourself. Yup, this is gonna hurt, yup, this is gonna leave a scar, yup, my life is going to be altered right here, right now because of this hurt. Really understand what I'm saying, when this moment of debilitating pain lessens and you can again think clearly, you will not be the same person you were before you were shot down in a blaze of glory. Change is inevitable, it's what happens when something gets broken. Ready to yank on that Arrow? No you say? Ah yes, silly me, I forgot that ginormous Straightjacket of Fear that we pull out of the closet so frequently. Do you even realize how hard it is to coordinate an outfit around that hideous thing?!

The only thing more paralyzing than heartache is fear. I don't want to go too deeply into this because Fear is a subject worthy of it's own blog or 10. There is just simply so much that we are afraid of that we don't even realize. However, in regards to the arrow removal, the overwhelming fear isn't the pain itself, it's the unknown. We like security, comfort, and familiarity. Thoughts like, 'how will I live without this person,' cause us to wonder and worry about our future and force us to focus on the uncomfortable. Fact of the matter is I can't tell you how you will live without that person, I can just assure you that you can. YANK AWAY!

So now you've got Denialville in the rearview mirror and fear is that splatter of bug guts on the windshield. Turn on the wipers and take a look out into the unknown. Focus on your dreams, goals, and the things that give your life meaning and embrace the hurt. Throw the arrow out the window (the only time I will give you permission to litter), and allow yourself to feel. Feel the hurt, the betrayal, the heartache, even the fear....allow it to happen, accept that it's a process. The Arrow of Hurt has been removed, but those stitches take some time to heal. Can I give you a little bright side? You will be well on your way to nearly good as new while most people are still crashing at the Extended Stay in Denialville.

I can't tell you how long the hurt will stay, how long it will take until food tastes good again, or how long it will take until you look in the mirror and believe it when you tell yourself you are going to be ok. What I can tell you is that hurt is healthy, feeling is normal, and pain is temporary and you will be ok. Absolutely, without a doubt you will be ok. Keep saying it until it is your truth. Eventually the day will come where your hurt will be able to help someone else through theirs, and that is a beautiful thing.

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress." -Frederick Douglass