Defining Pain

Written on – Tuesday, 7 August 2018 – 14:15


I have experienced many types of pain this year.

The pain of losing a job I love.

The stress and anxiety that comes from being unemployed.

The fear of the unknown.

The challenge that is finding a new purpose.

An illness that floored me for months.

For the first time in my life a broken bone. A physical pain comparable to nothing else I have ever felt. I thought that that might be the turning point, the moment that I could say the most difficult thing had happened. 

I was so wrong about that.

Broken bones may hurt, but they hurt nothing in comparison to broken hearts.

A broken bone you can’t ignore, it is all consuming and steals your focus anytime it tries to wander. Yes, drugs help, but they only distract you from the physical pain which waits on you.

Emotional pain is different. It too is all consuming, but unlike physical pain, if you are not ready to process it, you find yourself in the VOID. The place where emotions can’t hurt you and feeling good and bad disappear.

Physical pain is all present all of the time it can be medicinally repressed and in time, without ever doing anything, it fades away. Emotional pain can be like pressing pause. However the longer you ignore emotional pain, the harder it can be to recover from it.

Call it depression, call it denial. But for me it’s just old habits dying hard.

It reminds me so much of the poem by Norman MacCaig, ‘Visiting Hour’.

The poem itself is about a different kind of loss. But the line,

“I will not feel. I will not/Feel. Until I have to.”

This resonates within me often.

Years of counselling and self-discovery prove to me that I will feel again. When I am ready. 

Perhaps I’ll cry. Perhaps I’ll shout, or swear. Perhaps I’ll wallow in despair for a future that will never be or a relationship that is already long over. I can’t say for sure how I’ll react.

Four days have given me very little time to come to terms with how I feel, yet already I have felt myself on the verge of being overwhelmed. Every time I pick up my phone to talk to you and then remember I can’t. Every time I hear an inside joke that only you would find funny, and then remember we will unlikely never laugh together again.

I scroll through photographs of the last nine months, and your face haunts me. Your smile, beautiful and already gone. How long has it been since I saw it? Even if I hide your face, I still see it burned into my mind. I can picture every expression, every reply and retort. I can see you roll your eyes and scoff as I tell another stupid joke.

Every time I think of something good that we shared I find tears in my eyes, as I come to terms with the fact that these moments are only in the past, and will come to be nothing more than a memory. 

I wish I could change how things are. I wish I’d been able to try harder. But it isn’t just the good things which I recall. The hard parts, the parts neither of us could get passed. The words that were said, the look in your eye that last night we were together. I doubt I will ever be able to forget that look. It spoke more words than I will ever be able to and sealed a fate that neither of us dared try to change.

I may not be ready to feel, not everything. Not all at once. But when I do I hope that what I retain are my memories of the good, that they shine brighter than any darkness which found us.

Navarone. I wish you all of the best going forward in your life, knowing that I no longer get to share it with you. As we move forward, as individuals, I hope that our time together has made us stronger. I hope that we can both find the happiness we were unable to find together.

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