Embrace the Pain

[Still lots of pain, still unable to write much, but still caring enough about you, the Readers, to slog out to the computer and post something. This column is from 2004, and seemed apt to me for some reason. BTW, if you're looking to get me a late Birthday present, or possibly for Elvis's Birthday, or MLK Day, or whatever, I no longer wish giant stuffed animals, Seasons of House or even beef jerky. No, friends: send me Oxy-Contin! Later. - H]

The Hyperion Chronicles
“All the Cool Kids are reading it”

#317 Embrace the Pain

I started back in with chiropractics last week, after years away. I need it. I’ve never recovered from the move in July, there are all the old injuries, and of course; carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders doesn’t help.

The Doctor warned me that because of my repeatedly injured body, the massive amount of scar tissue, and “the spine of a 70 year old—a near-death 70 year old,” there would be a considerable amount of pain for the first few sessions.

“That’s okay, Doc,” I said. “I know it has to get worse before it gets better. I embrace the pain.”


Many people like to wallow in their own misery. That’s not good—and I’ve written about it extensively; most recently in #304, where my advice for the year was, “Suck It Up, Walk It Off, and Get Over It.”

However, there is another segment of people out there who refuse to acknowledge when BAD THINGS COME THEIR WAY.

Hear what I’m saying. (Or, at least read.) If someone is trying to have a positive attitude and not get down, I’m all for it. Sometimes you fake it ‘till you make it. That’s not who I’m talking about.

I’m talking about people who live in complete denial. “Everything is okay.” “I don’t need help.” “Nothing bad has happened.”

Oh, honey. Like a cheap toupee; you aren’t fooling anyone.

Stuff happens. People leave you, by choice or by accident. Promotions don’t come through. Kids are disappointments. Friends and Family let you down. The anniversary of a horrific event comes up and you know it’s going to hurt. Your life is not what you’d planned.

I want you to feel better. I want me to feel better. I want all of us to feel better. But sometimes this will only happen if we first take the step back. Sometimes we have to let that truck hit us, and get it over with.

Look at it another way: there are schools of martial arts that teach their students to be like flowing water when hit: absorbing the energy of a blow when you’re fluid is not nearly as painful as when you’re resisting it.

This reads all doom-and-gloom, but it’s not. You see, sometimes pain—whether it’s grief, anger, disappointment, loss, frustration, or oblivion—is as inevitable as the tide. It’s coming. And delaying it just multiplies the effect; promising that eventually it will come on stronger and last longer. And in the meantime, your behavior is affected in ways you’re not even aware of. Your whole personality changes. You snipe at people who don’t deserve it. You withdraw. Maybe your start taking crazy chances.

Friends, Uncle Hyperion know of whence he writes, and he didn’t learn it out of a book. I’ve watched this happen to people. I’ve been this happening.

And eventually I realized that truck is going to hit no matter what. So let it hit you. Embrace the pain and let it wash over you like rain until you’re soaked through.

But then—and this is key—you let it go. You give yourself some time. How long? Depending on how bad a hit you’ve taken, a few hours to a few weeks. You’ll find that embracing the pain allows you to manage it, and even control it, and recovery won’t take as long.

In the meantime, you keep living. Maybe you take an hour to cry or a day off to sleep. Maybe a weekend to remember, but no more. You have to keep living, and you can. The pain is with you, but you no longer fight it off—which saps your energy like nothing else.

So you’re a little sad for awhile. That’s not a crime. Maybe you even cry in public, when something happens to bring you right back to that fateful moment. That’s okay. Any friend worth their salt will understand. Keep moving, keep on, and let that pain come with you.

Now, here’s the magic part: it’s not as bad as you thought. A couple of days, yes, it seems like your life is over. But it’s not. You learn to accept the pain, to live with it, and eventually you realize you don’t really need it. You’re ready to get back up on that horse, and reenter life: date again, be seen in public, write more columns; whatever.

Do this, and recovery is yours. Be willing to take the hit and go with it, like water, and it wont’ have near the impact. Sometimes, in spite on every inclination to the contrary, you have to embrace the pain.

September 27, 2004

Thanks to Tootsie for Editing

Motto Explanation
If you were cool, you’d understand


Sea Hag said...

LOLcats + Post Secret = BEST WEBSITE EVER!!!!!!!

Bear said...

Speaking of pain, are you going to do any political columns this year? The time is ripe, man. Ripe!