Embrace Your Pain

son of a whore

I know a woman who was raped. The pain that she lived through, as you can imagine, was unbearable.

“How are you able to cope with your pain and the memory of the past?” I asked her.

“I refuse to suffer and be someone’s victim,” she said, having already lived through her pain and faced her demons. “What happened to me, happened, but life goes on. I dealt with the anger, the pain, and the hurt. But I refuse to live in it. Otherwise, I would give my power to the rapist every time.”

Instead of living as a victim, she went on to have a good life. She created a business. Started a family. And allowed her pain to be her teacher.

By the time she shared her story with me, she had assimilated her experience and used it as a building block to create success in her life. Her voice did not quiver. She was not bitter. There was no resentment in her heart.

As a survivor of childhood abuse, while I still do not rejoice in suffering, I’ve come to realize that pain has the potential for us to uncover something of value.

From birth and until about the age of eighteen, I was emotionally, psychologically, and physically abused. It would be easy to look at the pain I endured and say that none of it served me. None made me better. Nor did any good.

However, if am honest, I would be wrong to discount all of my pain.

If I am honest and take a moment to step back and watch my life as an observer, I can tell you that even the worst of pain served me. I would never condone abuse or violence, but I cannot change the past. However, I refuse to reject my past just because it was filled with pain. To do so would be to reject myself.

What about you? When you think about pain, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Do you pull away because it reminds you of emotional, psychological, or physical pain you might have gone through?

What sensations do you feel?

What would you rather feel instead?

We all prefer to embrace joy, happiness, and pleasure. Don’t we? But why?

In reality, life is filled with pain. Our mothers endured the pain of birth labor to bring us into this world. A seed must die in order to sprout new life. We work more than we play. We cry more than we laugh. Countries go to war. People suffer all over the globe. Our Earth is filled with pain. So, it seems that pain is inevitable. Pain is a part of life. There is no getting around it.

What you do with pain, however, is determined by YOU.

An expectant mother knows that she’s going to go through pain to bring her baby into the world and experience the miracle of motherhood. The end result of her pain is a child that she longed for. No pain, no gain!

If you want to get buff and grow your muscles, you have to hit the gym. Hard. You have to feel uncomfortable. You have to feel soreness from stretching and tearing your muscle tissue, so it can rebuild itself and you get the physique of your dreams. An Olympic athlete has to condition herself to endure pain in order to get the outcomes she wants. If she wants to become a gold medalist, she knows that she must endure pain.

Serena Williams, the world’s greatest tennis player, said:

I’ve grown most not from victories, but setbacks. If winning is God’s reward, then losing is how he teaches us.

No pain, no gain!

The same applies to our everyday life. If we want to get ahead, to get a miracle we hope for, a dream we desire, we need to embrace the pain. Not go looking for it, but if it comes our way – to look within it to see how we can benefit from it. Is there a lesson it offers? Can it lead us to a discovery?

We can either hold back to avoid the pain or allow it to propel us. To condition us to be brave. To be resilient.

We can always choose to avoid pain. We can choose to grumble, complain, and live in fear. But then we will be stuck. That’s why the sidelines of humanity are lined with broken dreams and unachieved potential.

Or we can choose to endure and learn from pain and through it.

When I choose to use the pain I went through as a tool, it propels me to be better. A better father to my child. A be a better human. It propels me to be stronger. I do not shrivel away from a challenge. I do not run in fear.

It’s not always easy, and, admittedly, I slip up at times and want to run from pain, but I get back on the horse of life and keep going. I keep looking for an opportunity in each setback I experience. Because…

What’s the alternative?

You might feel tempted to say, “Yeah, I hear you Demetrye but what about the person who was molested or raped? Not all pain is alike.”

While I have not experienced either, I had lived through severe emotional and physical abuse and can say this: while each person is different and we all handle pain in different ways, if we take the time and live through the discomfort of personal confrontation with a new idea, there might still be a lesson to be extracted even from that pain.

It’s not a glamorous idea to embrace the pain. I know. I wish we all could avoid it for good. But I also know that had it not been for the discomfort and the pain, humanity would have never invented electricity, build a plane, or even the wheel. We would still live in the dark ages, walking barefoot, grunting instead of talking, struggling to communicate. But because of pain, because of discomfort, we have medicine, electricity, and running water. Not to forget the technology that allows me to share this message with you.

Here is what I would like to leave you with, whatever you had faced in the past or might be going through at the moment, ask yourself: “What can I learn from this? What is my takeaway? It may hurt like hell, but is there a silver lining?”

And maybe, just maybe, just like me, you can build a wonderful life for yourself not in spite of your pain, but because of it.