If I’ve learned anything about my time spent in the behavioral health ward of the hospital, it is that you should never ever compare your pain to someone else’s. And I mean this both ways. Sometimes people will talk to me about they’re problems and then say “oh but it’s nothing compared to what you’re going through.” And every time I have the same reaction… “don’t you dare say that!” It may seem like an extreme reaction, but I believe one thing about pain…and that’s that it is subjective. Your pain is entirely your own and you are allowed to feel it as deeply as I feel mine.
One thing that’s always bothered me is the people that say things like “it could be so much worse” or “there are children starving in Africa” or the ever so famous phrase “first world problems.” Sure…no matter what you’re going through, there is more than likely someone who has it worse. But what can you do about that? In most cases, nothing…nothing is the answer. I can’t single-handedly feed all of the children who are starving in Africa. The only thing I can do is grieve for them and donate if and when I can. However, that doesn’t lessen the pain I feel over losing my mom or the pain you feel for losing your dog. Our hearts still feel like they’re broken.
I used to think that anyone that had any kind of addiction was an awful person, if you overdosed, you deserved it. Now when I look back, I would punch myself in the throat. Addiction is no fucking joke. There is so much stigma attached to it and understandably. However, if you are ever around addicts long enough to hear their stories, you’d almost understand. There is no excuse for addiction, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason that it started. Some people become addicted by using pain medication correctly after an injury. Some people, such as myself, seek it out for emotional pain that seems too hard to bear. Some start because it was just something they were exposed to their entire lives. All of those people have one simple thing in common…they’re human.
As humans, we have feelings…and all of them are legitimate even if they don’t make sense to someone else. It isn’t ok to tell someone they aren’t allowed to feel a certain way. A term I’ve learned recently is “gaslighting.” Oxford Dictionary defines gas lighting as: “Manipulate (someone) by psychological means into doubting their own sanity.” As I did more research on gaslighting, I realized it is what I’ve been dealing with for a very long time. Now in no way do I use that as an excuse for my awful actions but it does seriously mess with your psyche and it takes a lot of strength to combat it, especially if it’s someone you love doing it to you. Gaslighting is really just an extreme form of what we as people do to each other on a daily basis. A less extreme example I used to find irritating was when someone would say a word or phrase wrong and I would then question if that’s what they meant. The person then turns around and instead of accepting that they said something incorrectly, they try to make you feel as if it is YOU who heard wrong. Sure, there is a likelihood that that is the case…but sometimes it’s not.
I think I went on a tangent I didn’t mean to but basically, if a friend of yours is a good friend, they will never minimize your feelings or problems just because theirs happen to be “worse.” And as a good friend, you should make sure it’s understood that even if you’re going through something hard, it’s still ok for them to talk to you about what they’re going through. Obviously certain circumstances don’t apply, but that’s where common sense comes in.
One of my favorite lyrics is in the song Stubborn Love by The Lumineers. The lyric is, “It’s better to feel pain than nothing at all. The opposite of love’s indifference.” It’s a good lyric. I like it because I’ve only recently realized that while numbing myself to the pain I was feeling, I was also numbing all the good feelings too. I was making bad decisions because my brain was not functioning like it should have been.
If possible, would I like to rip out all the pain? I think I’ve gotten to the point where I can say no. Pain drives you to do or be something better than you are. Pain shows you that you’re alive. Pain is there when you’re born. It’s there when you die. It’s there. So accept it. Feel it. Conquer it.
And the salt in my wounds isn’t burning anymore than it used to
It’s not that I don’t feel the pain it’s just I’m not afraid of hurting anymore
And the blood of these veins isn’t pumping any less than it ever has
And that’s the hope I have the only thing I know that’s keeping me alive
I’ve included links to the songs I’ve referenced. Please check them out, both are amazing.