What a strange thing we humans do. Romanticize pain. We view it as something that has to take place for real validation. I often wonder what it is about pain and the seemingly endless amounts that one must endure that makes us feel that way. Why do we subject ourselves to painful experiences by choice, with hopes and beliefs that the berry will be that much sweeter?
I’d like to think that classism plays a part in it as well. We quantify our pain to try to make it better in comparison to others. The trend these days though is to try to prove who went through the most pain. The joke is on us though. Pain doesn’t work that way. You aren’t going to win some competition or tray of cookies for carting around and showing off how much pain you’ve endured through life. Every journey is filled with thorny parts. Which also means they’re going to look different in everyone’s lives. Sometimes along the way you’ll even meet people that got poked by the same thorn bush. You’ll find them in different parts of your life too. You’ll also meet people who’ve had to deal with different types of thorns. Ones you’ve never imagined or even seen in your life. That’s because most things are relative to your life, the journey ahead, and the path you’ve chosen.
The tricky part about the thorn bushes is finding your way out. Navigating away from the bush and learning to avoid it in the future. We become so comfortable with pain that we sometimes retreat to the thorn bush that pricked us in the past because we know what to expect from it. We know how deep it’s going to hurt. We know where. We generally know and understand how it’s all going to happen, and then we accept it. Fearing that there might be a thorn bush out there that’s far worse than the one you’re in now. Leading you to believe that it’s not worth venturing out to a new world, on a different path and new journey. Thus, the cycle of pain begins. Starting with our first message that we shouldn’t stray from the painful path. That to stray and not stay the course makes you less than. You cast doubts.
I want to be clear and state that I am writing this piece using we and you intentionally. Please understand that I am speaking to myself too. These are things that I still have to deal with every day.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about a decision that I wanted to make, that’s rooted in my fear. It had to do with me returning to my same old thorn bush because I was comfortable with the wounds. I had to admit to myself that he was right. I was running back to my comfort zone because I can gauge the pain. I have control issues and there’s so much about life that I want to have complete control over. Pain that is endured being the number one thing on the list to control. It stems from my childhood and the chaos that took place. I had no control over the chaos as a kid. So, in my teenaged and early adult years, I accepted and embraced chaos that was similar or the same. Chaos that mimicked the same kind of pricks from my childhood thorn bushes. I think what makes it worse is that in those years I intentionally sought out people who were also living in a thorn bush. I didn’t want to taint the people who hadn’t grown to like the pain. I wanted to sulk and be toxic and what better way to do that than with likeminded people. I wanted to play and live on the shadow side even though my exterior didn’t’ always show that.
My exterior is mostly, we’ll say 80/20 (somedays 60/40) rosy. Emitting joy, light and love to the people that are around me. Sharing words of encouragement to see them grow into their best strongest selves. Living unabashedly and carefree. Confident and silly all at the same time. Though in my teenage and early adult years I didn’t want to focus on those things. I wanted people to see my pains. To see me as this tough girl that was always going through something but figured out a way to deal with it. And while I wanted them to understand my world, I was simultaneously entirely too vulnerable and scared to show my feelings. I was crushed by so many events that I didn’t think the sunny parts were the highlights. In fact, I didn’t think of the highlights at all. Just the low parts. I had and have God given talents that I was wasting because I was stuck in a thorn bush. Wallowing in my own despair about how hard it was to be constantly poked and cut by life. Here’s the thing though. Everyone has their own thorn bush. Everyone gets cut by life. Those things happen. It’s all a part of the life cycle. The key is to keep pushing beyond the thorn bush. To not get tangled in and comfortable with the pain. Most importantly though, to constantly see the light. While there is darkness in the world, there is also light. You must look for the light that shines through those thorn bushes and leads you out. There is another way. Your path doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. It is yours and yours only.
Doubting yourself is normal. It’s hard to imagine that all of the blessings we receive in life are just for us because of how magnanimous and magnificent they are. Do not trick yourself into believing that it was a mistake, and the Universe didn’t mean to bless you in that way. Work on recognizing and appreciating the light and beauty that’s already present. We take our first step down the spiral of negativity when we doubt our visions, purpose, and blessings. That first step is dangerous because it’s a steep slope down. Once you start it’s hard to run back up. Leading the way for fears to take over. Lead with love instead.