My Experience: Pain

expression humanity pain suffering May 18, 2022

"Why are you crying? Your dad's a rockstar." 

These words have ricocheted in my head since the day my fifth grade peer scornfully said them to me; The day I stiffened up and thought shamefully, "How embarrassing that I didn't know children of rockstars weren't allowed to cry."

Naturally, I'd cry over the next fifteen years. 

I cried over all kinds of things people cry about. I cried when I experienced the deaths of loved ones and pets, when I felt fear and anxiety, from heartbreak and breakups, from missing someone I loved, while my parents were fighting, during illness and physical pain, from betrayal, insecurity, rejection, loneliness, stress, and overwhelm, after losing friends, after failing, at sad songs and out of compassion.

I cried a lot, actually. Sometimes, ashamedly, even over the very thing I wasn't allowed to cry about: being the child of a rockstar.

Mostly I cried out of frustration. The hot tears streaming down my face as a result of the tears themselves. Like anyone, I hated being in pain. When it would happen, I would thrash resistantly to it. Pleading and shaming myself out of the feeling. The more I rejected my pain, the more painful it was; Like pouring lemon and salt in a wound.

And all the while, I was obsessed with pain. Art, music and literature by artists like Nirvana, Franz Kafka, Frida Kahlo, Banks, Tool, Mike Flanagan, Evanescence, Edvard Munch, and even Machine Gun Kelly brought me to my knees and rippled my skin with goosebumps. Yes! I'd bellow as I immersed myself in the sights and sounds of their sorrow, rage, grief and distress. Yes! I'd scream along with them with equal-parts liberation and envy.

How freeing it would be to howl my pain like Amy?

How evocative it would be to be as honest about my suffering as Frida?

How healing it would be to express my loneliness like Franz?

I had even romanticized the dark Kurt Cobain quote, "I hate myself and I want to die."

I was like a moth to the light, but with the dark. As a moth confuses the light for the orientation provided by the moon, I confused the dark for the orientation of my pain. Nothing felt more cathartic.

Through self-study and therapy, I discovered the medicine of feeling my feelings. I started allowing my pain to be there and move through me instead of shoving it into the dark crevices of my heart. I even developed compassion for it, myself and my humanity.

In my solitude, I practiced this.

"How are you doing?" My friend asked me one night recently. She'd been relentlessly checking in on me as she knew I was going through a hard time. It'd been a painful month. I'd suffered the loss of a loved one, a major relationship redirect, debilitating allergies, deep family tension, and a whole lot of emergency travel.

"I'm fine. Hard times, but doing fine!" I'd said over and over, frantically through a smile.

"You don't have to..." She finally said knowingly.

Why am I so scared to crumble? I asked myself.

Through her safe, all-seeing gaze, I realized there was a part of me that was still living by the boy's words. A part of me that was still shaken and unhealed in the public eye. Though I could now hold my pain in the privacy of my own hands, I was still afraid of it being seen.

"Why are you crying? Your dad's a rockstar.

The floodgates opened and I could no longer hide. I poured out my weary heart and showed her the dark crevices.

I want to show you these dark crevices too.

I'm in pain!!! I want to shout from the rooftops.

I'm in pain!

I'm in pain!

I'm in pain!

And I'm allowed to be in pain!

I always have been in pain!

I have been in pain many times!

I may always be!

Life can be excruciatingly painful!

I'm in pain! I scream to you in celebration. I'm in pain!

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