From the time my kids were old enough to crawl, I've taught them to be careful. It's for their safety; their protection. I gave them plastic utensils with rounded edges. I "kid-proofed" my house. I was there to catch them when they fell taking their first steps. I taught them not to touch a hot stove, and to be careful not to shut their fingers in the door. I taught them just like my mom taught me and her mom taught her. No matter how careful a parent is, accidents happen. Bones get broken. Eyes get poked. Knees get scraped. Hands get burned, and fingers get smashed. It's a part of life that all parents try to protect their kids from for as long as they possibly can, but in the end, all kids get hurt and feel pain.
By the time we're adults, it's an accepted fact of life. We know that we will get hurt and feel physical pain somehow...somewhere...sometime, but we are programmed from an early age to avoid pain...at all costs...just like I programmed my children when they were babies. We are taught that pain is bad. Pain is scary. When we feel pain, we do everything we can to numb it...bandaids...ice packs...medicine. We want the pain to go away...fast, and we are careful never to repeat the action that caused the pain in the first place.
My body is sore and tired today and my heart hurts. Today, I feel pain, but I guess that's not so unusual for me. I workout...hard..and so many times...I experience the feeling of pain. Sometimes, it's my back. Sometimes, my legs...my butt...my arms. Sometimes, it's my heart; my soul. Sometimes it's hard to tell where it hurts. I just know I feel pain. It hasn't been until the past several years that I learned to appreciate pain...to like pain. No, I'm not some kinky masochistic freak. I'm someone that has learned to respect pain...to understand it...to work through it...to live in it...to use it for my own benefit rather than fighting against it.
Pain teaches me. It refines me. Sometimes when my muscles ache, and I scramble for the Advil and ice packs, I stop and take a step back. My body is sore...hurting...because today I used it. I worked hard to make myself the best I can be. When it hurt, I didn't stop...I pressed on and grew stronger. When it was hard...I rose to the challenge and built endurance; confidence. The pain, the hurt is an affirmation that I did the best I could. When my heart breaks and my soul is battered, it is because I have been hurt..somehow...by someone...maybe an unkind word or a disagreement...maybe loneliness or disappointment...maybe unrequited love or even betrayal. This pain is much harder for me to embrace. It is very tempting to do whatever I can to ignore this pain...to find a way...any way that I can...to keep from feeling this pain...to stuff it down...to build a wall and shut myself off from the possibility. I've learned that it is important not to push this pain down but to feel it...to acknowledge it...to learn from it, because this pain also teaches me...even makes me better...stronger too. I am learning that it is better to risk this pain than it is to be alone and sacrifice happiness...love...friendship. It may be harder for me to accept the pain of heartache than it is to accept physical pain, but surviving heartache helps me appreciate those that truly love me...that handle my heart and soul with care. It reminds me that the way I treat others really does matter.
Pain is a part of life. It comes whether we invite it or not...embrace it or reject it...work with it or against it. Everyone has experienced the strange phenomenon where pain actually feels good physically. An example being the fact that massaging a sore muscle can hurt so bad and feel so good at the same time. It only takes a moment, but if we jump up at the first touch, afraid to feel the pain, we cheat ourselves out of the pleasure that follows. I will continue to see pain as a positive force in my life; a catalyst for change. I will use it as a gauge for progress. I will be patient and brave and strong and wait until the misery subsides and allow the pain to "hurt so good"...again...and again...and again.