“My favorite thing about myself is that my heart always hurts.” -Glennon Doyle
There was a time when I believed that feeling pain meant I was weak. If you’re anything like me, then often the strategy is this: 1. Hurt 2. Make it go away as fast as we can 3. Feel hurt anyway but now also frustrated because that dang hurt isn’t doing what we told it to do. We always try to make pain disappear as quickly as possible, only to find that pain only goes away on its own terms, and sometimes it doesn’t at all. Heartbreak, disloyal friends, the current state of the world- it is easy to look around and find a reason to despair. We also look at others’ complacency and wonder, “Am I oversensitive? Why do I care when this other person clearly does not?” or “How is everyone NOT angry right now? Don’t they see what’s happening outside?”
Putting current events aside, heartbreak is the thing that has mostly made me feel ridiculous in my pain. The other person does not care (sometimes this is true and sometimes we just think this is true), so why hold on? It has taken me months on months to get over someone who let go long before I ever could. As I get older, however, this pain that I feel is one of my favorite things about myself. To not feel this would make my life not only shallow but also fake.
There is no pain without connection. It is better to build strong, rare connections than to have several feeble ones. If you’re anything like me, these relationships, particularly romantic ones but friendships as well, are special and not to be handed out willy nilly. That alone means that when we lose that person we cared so much about, it hurts so much more, because we haven’t experienced that kind of connection with many people. This is something I’ve learned to not only appreciate about myself but to love, rather than pushing it away.
Bringing current events back into the mix, these days I constantly feel hurt. I feel the hurt that is not my hurt, it is the hurt of others with different lives; those who have a different skin color, those who feel unsafe in their places of worship, those who feel like their lives can be ripped away from them due to this hostile environment the “president” is now nurturing. It is something we should not be turning away from, even though it hurts to pay attention.
That is the main takeaway— it hurts because we’re paying attention. It hurts because we care. It hurts because it should. To not hurt is a disservice either to you or to the rest of the world, but most of the time it is a disservice to both. Now go out and FEEL THE HURT. Let it lead to connection. Let it lead you to action. Let it make you a fighter.
Glennon Doyle, whom I quoted above, also says that she laughs all the time because she’s paying attention. Finding joy along with compassion is mandatory to our well-being. Seek happiness, but remember that sometimes it is found at the end of a fight. We must move into the compassion and discomfort to get to the joy that is ultimately waiting for us.