“Every day is better, even if you don’t feel it.”
A good friend said those words to me the other night, as we were venting and commiserating over our crappy emotional problems with the opposite sex. His is an ex; mine is an emotional ex.
It’s true, those words, because time heals. And it’s also true that you won’t always feel the emotional progress you make, as emotions slowly but surely realign with the wall of reality into which you crashed, brining everything to a rapid, sudden and painful halt.
These walls look different in everyone’s lives, but the universal truth of time’s healing power still applies to all. And to resist or try to speed up the uncompromising and constant force of time is futile.
If we didn’t feel pain we would be robots. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” The truth of me finally rings out over everything else in the midst of my pain, the truth that I am needy, inadequate, desirous of love and companionship and yet lacking.
The truth that I really have no where else to turn but God.
Enough writers before me have explored the scientific, philosophical and spiritual facets of pain, and that’s not what I’m trying to do here. The only thing we ever have really is their words to learn from and our own experience. So here I am, exploring my own experience of a pain that I really never expected: heartbreak.
I have been emotionally hurt before because of men, some of it was mostly just me and my expectations and false hopes. One incident was a friend who simply had no sense or sensitivity about our close friendship that had caused me to like him, a situation that required a lot of forgiveness and grace on my part, especially when he pursued, dated and eventually married a girl who, needless to say, is no longer one of my closest girlfriends. I’ve also had my fair share of emotional confusion, elation, frustration and anxiety.
And in all honesty, I look at my life; and then I read books and meet people who seemed to have gotten it so much worse. But this is the peculiar thing about pain: perspective and comparison are both impossible. Everyone’s wall of reality is different, but the crash still makes an impact. Yes, some damage is more severe than others, but if the damage is ignored things only get worse. Because this is what pain does. It temporarily cripples us, shows us the truth about us, and then presents us with choice: to seek healing or to hold on.
This is why I say comparison is impossible. Because all my life, I’ve been comparing my pain to other people’s pain. I tell myself, “My problems are nothing. I can get through this. Gosh, I’m such a needy idiot. What’s my problem feeling this way? Tough it up, Victoria.” As a result, I’ve been ignoring all the damage done in my own life, actually holding on to the pain, and things have only gotten worse.
So I MUST use the word heartbreak to describe my situation, because even though I’ve never had a real boyfriend, never been dumped, never been married or divorced, this is my pain. The complete unrequital of the strongest feelings I have ever had for anyone, a pain that can happen to anyone, single or dating, married or divorced.
After sharing briefly about her psychologist friend’s experience of counseling Cambodian refugees whose worst personal plagues were all about love and relationships (this can be found in story #50 of the book), Elizabeth Gilbert writes in book EAT PRAY LOVE, “This is what we are LIKE. Collectively, as a species, this is our emotional landscape. I met an old lady once, almost one hundred years old, and she told me, ‘There are only two question that human beings have every bought over, all through history. HOW MUCH DO YOU LOVE ME? And WHO’S IN CHARGE?’ Everything else is somehow manageable. But these two questions of love and control undo us all, trip us up and cause war, grief and suffering.”
So here I am, a human, undone by the universal element that plagues us all: love.
And even now, I just want to ignore it. Remind myself of the starving children in Africa and the countless children in the world with no parents and all the human trafficking and female oppression that still happens everywhere and just move on. Go out and do something to change the world without changing myself first. And this is what I’ve been doing all my life.
The worst part of all the pain and depression I have been experiencing this last year is the distance that has been growing between me and people who care about me. People who I know love me. People who want to be strong for me when I am weak. People I consider my family. I have never felt so far away from them as I do now. And its because I simply don’t know how to talk about my pain or even expect people to care or listen or understand.
I try to be so strong. But I’m so weak. I go to the gym, run, hike, and play sports on a weekly basis, but I’m so weak inside right now. I have nothing left. I’ve been ignoring the damage for far too long. So that’s why I’m writing this. To reach out again after all my withdrawal.
And understand that because of who I am, this is how I need to communicate all this, at the risk of being taken for a drama queen. Please don’t misjudge me as a passive aggressive coward, however, putting up a blog post in the wake of a bad day. These emotions aren’t fresh. They’ve been eating me alive for a while now.
Even now, I don’t want to share this with anyone. I don’t want to hit “publish.” I want to try to bottle up the feeling of relief writing all this down has given me and make that feeling last forever. But it won’t. Because I’m still in pain, and I still need help. The damage has already been done.
Yes, I must turn to God, but God gave me people; and I don’t want to feel far away from people anymore. And I write this because, somehow, I know that no human was meant to experience pain alone.