I might be harping on about this but if there are other angles maybe it will better resonate.
An analogy. Kinda…
I was born pure and pain free into a world that hasn’t been free from pain for a long, long, long time. Everyone I met from day one had pain. Some more than others, but everyone had endured suffering. Some wore it gracefully, others wore it honestly, some wore it with anger and vengeance, but mostly people wore it blindly.
I stored up pain. I stored up other people’s pain as my own – they instructed me on my worth, on my value, on my level of safety based on the level of comfort they had in their own pain endurance. I created a bank where I could make deposits and withdrawals of suffering as and when required. This bank had an endless supply because I could refill it as fast as I could empty it. I was using it to repay debts, I was spending it positively, I was saving it up for a rainy day… pain became a currency to me.
Pain is a currency for all of us, perhaps. Or a costume, an accessory or tool for navigating through life disastrously.
First of all pain – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – was this surprising, shocking, debilitating thing that happened to me in my innocence. In the absence of healed people, I wasn’t taught how to process and overcome it. I wasn’t shown how to let it go. Pain, at first, was an attack on my purity. My childhood was affected by the pain I was born into.
Pain became a jacket then. I could take it on and off. It could lay on the floor, disregarded, when I knew I was safe in my innocence, but if there was any hint of anything remotely uncomfortable or hurtful, the coat would go back on and I’d store all the new bits in the endless pockets and compartments of this jacket. As I grew out of the jacket I needed more items to carry around all the experiences I needed protecting from, like our clothes shield us from the weather and hide our naked vulnerabilities from the world. I had a whole wardrobe, for any occasion, and I loved shopping so I just acquired more and more and more outfits.
There would be particularly bad winters sometimes and I’d layer up. Layer upon layer upon layer of pain to protect myself. And if it rained I would be so laden. It got really hard to cart it all around on my body. I was exhausted and I eventually came to realise that if a awesome summer ever came I would probably die under the weight and the heat… if I even made it that far.
I started taking all the layers off. There were so, so, so many that it took me many seasons. I struggled through all of them but I was making progress. I never discarded all the layers, in case there was a particularly bad winter and I needed them. I just started carrying them around in suitcases, dragging them behind me. It was all organised and tidy, ready if I needed it. Some people thought it brilliant to be able to take off all those layers and carry them so neatly. Others tried their best to help me let go of some of the unnecessary items I needed. Some laughed at me carrying all that pain in cases before noticing how many layers they were living under themselves. We are experiencing global warming… there is not enough need for all these extra layers of pain in the world. We have to start getting rid of some of the things because we couldn’t have such terribly cold winters anymore – we have to get more prepared to brace entirely different storms and we can’t adapt under all that mess.
I thought I was doing the right thing giving all these things I didn’t need to a boot sale or charity shop. I was giving away my pain unknowingly. I’d unpack it and give it to other people and walk away feeling lighter, not noticing how much more laden they’d become. For years I just gave this pain away. Over and over and over. I had nearly emptied my cases before I realised that in giving away my pain I was inviting all the hand me downs from other people. It was just a pain exchange that I couldn’t see I was complicit in. I thought I was right and they were selfish.
I got pissed off then.
I started using my pain as a sword to fight people off with, no matter how close I wanted them. And when I realised I did want them close and I couldn’t keep swiping with a sword, I used it as a shield. I couldn’t hurt people so much but they couldn’t get near me with their pain. Nor their love. And I couldn’t love properly from behind a shield.
I realised, eventually, that the antidote to pain was love.
I tried to love everyone’s pain away but I was just giving them more, because I wasn’t really loving. I was trying to fix them. And by trying to fix them, I was trying to fix me. I realised I needed my love more than anything. So I just loved me. Over and over and over until I realised how necessary all that pain was to understand how to learn to love. I got better at loving others. I started teaching people how to love themselves!! This kind of love was blind and conditional… it made me blind to all the pain I hadn’t overcome because…. Well… pride is very blinding and I had let go of more pain than most!
I wore my pain like a badge then. And I gave people trophies for their pain. Little award ceremonies for our well done’s… well done we suffered greatly… we made it. We are warriors, fighters… survivors!!!!! Look how badass we are at suffering!
And we did… we each made it and if we hadn’t yet we would. And we will always do it, and we are bad ass and we WILL survive.
And that will always be amazing.
We were stronger and more whole and healthier and life would be hard but we’d survive, because that’s what we were… we were survivors.
But now I realise.
Now I understand.
A survivor is NOT who I am. I was never, ever meant to be a survivor. A survivor is who I had to become to overcome all of the pain in the world. The pain that belonged to my parents and their parents and their parents. The pain that belonged to everyone I met and the world around me. The pain of friends, partners, their partners, their friends. My pain, all my pain. A survivor is who I had to become to overcome all the things that were never, ever meant to belong to me. We had to become survivors to overcome all of the things that never belonged to any of us at all.
I was never broken to begin with so I never needed fixing. I never needed saving or rebuilding or curing.
I was always there underneath. Waiting.
I don’t want the badge anymore.
I was born pure and pain free into a world that hasn’t been free from pain for a long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, longggggggggg time.
I want to be pure and pain free again.
If I keep wearing the badge… If I keep carrying the pain I survived then I am never who I was meant to be.
If I carry my suffering, in any form, I am not me. I am the sum of a world that was broken from my first breath. And the only way, perhaps, we will ever, ever make it pure and pain free is if we stop carrying our suffering and return to our truest form.
We have a lot of journeying to do to get there… but the more we let go of, the easier the route will be.
I don’t want to tell my daughter the story of my pain, or of my surviving. I want to tell her how she can live a different story and help make a better world.