There’s another interesting read over on “The Naked Soul” blog, called “Pain and Suffering – Human VS Spiritual “. Do we create our own pain? Or chose to suffer? I started to reply to it… but, felt my reply turning into a book – so, decided to make a post here instead. I often think of my father when I think of people who overcame and dealt with pain. (He almost died in a fire when he was 12 – more details on that posted here). He was never one to complain, though.
When we were kids, we never even realized how much he had gone through, or still dealt with. Pain was a constant for him. He flinched with every step he took… but, he was too tough, and proud, to admit his pain, or to complain about it. Even when he got really sick his last days on this earth… and had even more trouble walking… he refused to let me push him in a wheel chair through the hospital to his appointments. He said he was never going back in another wheel chair… he walked… stopping every so many feet until we got there. This frustrated me as I knew he was in pain, and felt it was “needless”. It also inspired the hell out of me, and made me admire his will power and strength.
As I got older, and saw him more as a human, and not just my Dad – I realized that much of his “toughness” was a big act. He was a big softie on the inside…. but, you wouldn’t have known it. I still have to respect him and admire his strength…. he sure was a tough old goat :). He had to be to make it through everythig he did.
However, I do think his “strength”, and prideful commitment to it, probably went a little overboard sometimes. He was so strong… yet he was afraid to express his real emotions/feelings. He was so afraid to look “weak”, that he didn’t/wouldn’t seek help that was often readily available – and suffered more in the process because of that. He taught us to do the same. Is that really a good quality?
My brothers and I were strongly encouraged to hide any pain and negative feelings. Crying or showing weakness was shameful and flat out ridiculed. I remember my father telling my brothers that they were “sissies”… or “crying like a little girl” when/if they cried (the words “little girl” said with a sneer of disgust, as if something terrible to be). So, I didn’t want to cry… OR act like a “little girl” either. Even though I WAS one! LOL Nope, I wanted to be tough… and one of the guys. And, I was. To this day, most of my friends and family all perceive me as being much stronger than I think I really am. I talk about that a little in my other post about here.
We were taught to hide or repress our tears… That it was shameful to feel sorry for ourselves… or to act weak. We were told to not make excuses for ourselves… To accept responsibility… to look on the bright side… to not complain – even if we had something legitimate to complain about… And we were taught that most things were not worth complaining about. I can still hear my father’s voice saying, “If that is all you have to complain about, than you shouldn’t be complaining!”. Much of this logic… I still completely agree with. However, I know it went too far. I have to take a step back and watch how I treat my own boys… I remember being afraid of the dark when I was very young… but also being petrified to seek comfort and admit I was afraid. I was more afraid to go to my parents and say I was afraid, than I was afraid of the dark. I don’t ever want my boys to fee like that. I want them to run to my bed in the middle of the night and know they will find protection from whatever bad dreams or darkness they fear.
I remember being teased by my brothers, and really being upset… and running to the bathroom and dabbing tears so as not to let them fall from my eyes… making sure there were no signs of a tear before facing them again.
I remember physically getting hurt, and being able to choke back the tears… and then be rewarded for doing that. (what a brave girl!) If I did cry… I felt like a big cry baby… and didn’t want anyone to see.
I remember a lot worse things that I care not to write about that I never told anyone. Even things that I knew then were “wrong” or not fair to me, I still kept to myself because I somehow thought it was “my own fault”. I blamed myself… and didn’t want to admit it to anything… even if it wasn’t really my fault. .Better to suffer and hide it, then to have anyone else know how “weak” I was. I know I applied this in many areas of my life… blaming myself… and repressing negative feelings… putting on a good front.
I remember the first time I cried in front of a best friend… we were 18… and had been best friends since 3rd grade. She had never once seen me cry and she was utterly shocked. She didn’t know how to respond to me. Matter of fact, she said “Oh my God! I’ve never seen you cry. Please don’t cry. You can’t cry! Don’t cry!”. ?? As if I wasn’t allowed to. ?! I still hate to cry in front of anyone… but, I’m not as bad as I use to be. On of the best friends I have now, is one who I can cry with occassionally. (When we are not too busy laughing our asses off, that is 😉 ) I actually am a person who usually has fun no matter what… who always looks on the bright side… makes others laugh… see’s humor in most things… and I am glad I am like that.
So, anyway… I’m not trying to whine here… (sorry! LOL) , but rather state that regarding the whole “people should be responsible for their own pain” issue… ?? Well, like many things, I have mixed feelings on this topic. While I don’t want to dwell on the negatives… or let pain or suffering consume me… I also am fairly recently learning that it’s okay to acknowledge pain, or mourn or grieve for oneself, and to cry. Sometimes, pain (physical or spiritual) is very real… and very deserving of those tears.
Matter of fact, I am reading a book that rather insists that one NEEDS to do this (acknowledge your pain and suffering, and grieve) rather than live in denial of it, and rationalize things from your past (or present). It claims that until you do so, you can never really understand yourself and grow… That you need to do feel sorry for yourself.. grieve… mourn whatever it was you never had or lost, or what you are dealing with… so that you can then move on. I suppose that’s the trick, right? Knowing when to “move on”… and then actually being able to do it, right?