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Staying with pain

Updated: Sep 18, 2020

It’s not a new pain, I’ve felt it before

I’m just not used to it

It’s not a new pain

I’ve felt it before

I’m just not used to it

And never will be

Masked by laughter and kind

The truth is: it’s designed

Its craft is built on comfort and hope

The truth is it’s an illusion

It’s not a new pain

I’ve felt it before

I’m just not used to it

And never will be

Unable to shut down and box off

The pain lives on until it wears off

First hourly, daily, weekly

Then monthly, yearly until it’s a distant memory

It’s not a new pain

I’ve felt it before

I’m just not used to it

And never will be

Leave me hanging like a piece of meat

With a hook straight through my cheek

Unable to sustain an adult relationship is weird to me

As I thrive on truth, love and passion

The pain: I know it, I’m just not used to it.

The above poem I wrote, when a friend and I had fallen out and I was trying to work through my pain. We have now subsequently parted as friends, if you love someone set them free, as ‘they’ say! I’d love to meet this ‘they’ as they’ve always got something to say!

I am exceptional at staying with the pain and always have been. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not like emotional pain, but I know that I need to stay with it, in order to sort it out: to set myself free.

There was a poster that was on the back of my dining room door in my childhood home in Scunthorpe. It was a puppet, with its head/neck stuck in a mangle, you know one of those old-fashioned devices with two sturdy rollers, that you feed wet clothes through, to take off the excess water! And the caption said: The Truth Will Set You Free. As I do my research, I now realise it’s a psalm from the bible! I Guess that bit didn’t register with me or I didn’t see that bit (only see what you want to see), John 8:23 in fact is where it is from.

I spent my childhood between two countries – Scunthorpe, England and Cologne, Germany. My father is German and resides just outside Cologne, in a place called Bruhl and we spent every holiday with him. But for the academic year, section of my childhood, I lived in Scunthorpe with my mother, step-father, sister and two brothers. Now this is emotional pain, the two lives, the two homes, the two countries, the two very different morals, cultures and way of life, the feeling of been emotionally torn between the two worlds and never understanding which one I belonged too. Now I built a positive resilience to this way of life and taught myself to find the positive in the two worlds. I taught myself to be positive and found it was my only resilience towards pain.

Now one must be careful when it comes to emotional pain, when you are continually exposed to emotional pain, it can manifest itself in to physical pain or it can become addictive to some people. The emotional pain just becomes part of your life and you can’t imagine life without it and therefore you crave or create further emotional pain as an adult.

Pain is real and that should never be masked or hidden. Hiding from pain, is a normal occurrence for most people.

Different examples of people hiding from pain are:

Binge watching endless series on Netflix’s?

Shopping? Whether online or in physical stores?

Perhaps constantly cleaning your house or decorating it?

Drinking or taking drugs to numb the pain?

What do you do to hide from pain, to not face it? Some people can go their whole lives, constantly not dealing with the pain.

Pain doesn’t have to be a deep-set pain from childhood, it can be a simple pain or longing. For example, as I mentioned I left my teaching job after eight years, with no job to go to. This need was felt in my body, I felt tense, yet tearful. I needed to find extra strength to go to work in the morning, as I had knot in my stomach. I craved change and wanted further development of self.

I knew I had to leave, as the above feelings didn’t go away, they just got stronger and the more I let the feelings be present, the more I could hear them. But then, this pain has manifested itself in to fear – fear of leaving the job, fear of failure, fear of rejection. Fear and worry will go around and around and will not stop, until you confront and acknowledge both and make a change.

Pain and fear are real and must be felt, to allow yourself to feel the uncomfortable, is the allow yourself to understand why you feel this way. And so, the process of healing begins, the process of change, the process of growth. What comes from pain is growth. Staying with the pain is hard and at the time difficult for the body/mind/soul to withstand but it must be done to move on and close doors.

Working through an argument or disagreement: saying the sentences, you need to say or hearing the sentences people have got to say to you is a must, but it comes with pain. The short term is painful, but the long-term effect is hopefully a positive outcome for you and perhaps the other party too. It also, creates healthy boundaries of what you are willing to put up with. It states to the other person, that you feel a certain way and have boundaries for yourself.

The friend I talk about at the beginning of the chapter, wouldn’t talk it through and I was left hanging. ‘Leave me hanging like a piece of meat, with a hook straight through my cheek’ For someone who needs closure and to work through the pain. It was one of the most painful things I’d experienced in a long time. I went over the final communication between us repeatedly, to see if I had missed anything. I cried a lot and hid from the world a lot, I was horrible to myself and beat myself up with my own internal torture, I allowed my punishing and bullying voice to be heard over any other in my psyche: ‘well you must be a bad person, as someone has fallen out with you’ ‘it’s all your fault, you are bad’ ‘what have you done, you are such an idiot’

I had to work it through myself and find closure on my own. This is painful but if I continued, as if I wasn’t in pain, bought pretty shit for my house or was constantly busy or or or the list goes on, I’d still be here in pain and would not have set myself free.

I set myself free by doing the following:

Writing down a timescale of what happened, to put it all in to perspective, to stop my brain from changing the truth.

Forgiving myself for the part I played in the break-up of our friendship and for the things I said in the heat of the moment.

Seeking comfort from friends and family who love me and taking comfort in their love for me.

Understanding and reflecting on the feelings I was having and where they came from in childhood and comforting that inner child.

Been kind to myself and each day letting a positive voice drown out the negative voice. Stopping my inner bully be heard so often, until it faded away.

Not drinking alcohol, as this doesn’t help me.

Forgiveness of self and loving myself again and then eventually I find a place of ‘enough is enough.’

Steps to help you with pain:



Stop moving furniture, cleaning, building or buying ‘stuff!’

First recognise the feeling in your body when you begin to feel pain/fear/change: what does it manifest itself like? Tightness in your chest, perhaps you well up and tears roll down your checks or perhaps you shout and get angry.

Once recognised the changes that are happening in your body, stop acknowledge them. Ask yourself:

why is this happening?

Why am I fearful?

Why do I feel emotional pain?

What’s going on? If you can write down what is happening and where/when? Or type it out in notes on your phone. Do this for a couple of weeks and reflect on what you have written. Is there a pattern emerging?

When reflecting upon your words, if it relates back to a deep-set emotion from childhood or trauma then I suggest you seek help from a professional for one to one or group therapy sessions or counselling: doing this could change your way of life for the better.

Forgiveness of self is so important, and I encourage you to do this. Forgive yourself for messing up your friendship. Forgive yourself for not doing the right thing and it ending in disaster. Forgive yourself for saying the wrong thing. Whatever it is, forgiveness of self, is one of the best things you can do in life. If you cannot wait go straight to the chapter: Forgiveness of Self.

If the pain is there, as you need to change an aspect of your life, then start. Get a pen and paper and start making that plan. Look for a course in your local area that relates to the change you want to make and get booked on. Or buy a book or download a podcast and listen/read every word, start to grow. Spend your money on growth not consumption of stuff.

A snippet of Chapter 9 'Saying YES to NO' by Stef Bricklebank

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