The Purpose of Pain

5 years ago, 2 people fought and 5 lives imploded. Countless others were hurt in the fallout. 4 years ago, I was continuing to be a functional alcoholic, self harming and taking out all my pain by starving myself and living on beer, a slice of ham and multivitamins. 3 years ago, I left the mental hospital – somehow convincing the doctors I was perfectly fine while wanting to get out of there because I was convinced someone was going to kill my kids and I had to protect them from all of the different people who were going to kill us (#typical) 2 years ago, I organized the cabinets in the kitchen and sent pictures of my progress to my husband. A year ago, I was starting treatment after I talked about being raped with my husband. (One is these things is not like the other?) Today, we’re getting pizza, and I’m just proud of myself.

Life has taught me that I have a high pain tolerance and I have survived everything I said I couldn’t. I have learned to see through the pain and find the purpose. For much of my life, I compounded pain with escapism, new mistakes. My life was a series of manifest the pain I was feeling with pain I could explain.

It’s much easier to set yourself on fire and explain the burns than to admit there is a war inside of you, and you can’t stop. In the last five years, I let folks know I’ve had eating disorders since I was a kid, admitted I had an alcohol problem, etc. I got help. Once I started actually explaining instead of carefully repressing, life became this. It’s not perfect, I’ve got a long road of healing all these years. But after all of these years, pain taught me peace.

And that’s the purpose of pain. We bring into our reality the situations and circumstances that will help us heal. If you had told me I’d be in NV 5 years ago, I would have laughed. I can say it’s only possible because of what happened 5 years ago. I could not know then what it would lead to, but I believed it had to happen because it happened. Sometimes awfulness and pain happen beyond any reason or capacity: it had to happen because it happened. I can only see now what change started then. It’s always been that way for me. I knew when I was a kid myself making adult decisions about the future of my unborn child that the pain would teach me. It would make sense one day, and it did when I had my son and I got to leave the hospital.

The sense was marrying my husband and having our first child. I wouldn’t have known him if not for all the painful years before. The pain of losing my husband 5 years ago dwarfed all of it because I knew all of the pain I wouldn’t listen to combined, started a fight, ended a fight, and ended a marriage. I knew all of my illnesses took the man who I called “my gift from God” away from me. But, I twisted the pain into new knives to destroy myself some more.

It takes two to tango, but I can only ever see the world in my lens. I learned I had to work on myself if I wanted to have a prayer of understanding why I did this to myself – over and over again. How many times can I build and destroy my life? Psychosis and my car being wrapped around a telephone pole answered “as many times as you want, sweetcheeks!” In the process of rebuilding again, I lost almost everything and everyone because I stopped being able to hide what a mess I was. Without the shield of my perfect family and perfect life that I worked so hard to pretend, there was nothing left but the hot mess I tried to hide.

So then I talked about the hot mess. And I felt less alone. Suddenly, I wasn’t the only person who hated themselves. I saw how much pain everyone was in. I was so focused on my precious, super secret pain that I didn’t realize most of society is an epic game of pain hot potato.

Pain only gets bigger when it’s repressed. The rates of suicide, overdose, addiction, and illness show me that while my pain might be as unique as the spelling of my name, and I may never find a souvenir license plate that says Daina, there are a lot of people out there without license plates just like me. And there’s probably a few folks who can feel a little better knowing there’s some chick out there who is surviving her own worst enemy. Fortunately, we have Etsy for customizable everything and the internet for connecting through our stories and lessons on how to find peace.

Pain becomes different mental illnesses, addictions, and new cycles and patterns until it is allowed its purpose: to start the healing. I could not start healing until I was ready to believe I deserved to heal. It was a notion I never had before, and it wasn’t really until I started writing here. Previously, I believed I deserved to suffer. The mistakes and tallies I had against myself did damn myself into hell and then some. It had been this way since I was 14. Call it bipolar, call it CPTSD, call it I got raped and blamed myself for it, I don’t know. All I know was I decided then my family, my God, everyone hated me because I was evil. I was determined to kill myself then and promised myself I would apparently do everything but kill my self. I built my life around hiding how evil I was, how much I knew everyone hated me, and how I horrible I knew I was. All of my life has been trying to hide that truth. Naturally, I became the shitty person I said I was and I only changed when I started wondering if I was wrong.

Looking for the lesson, understanding the purpose of pain, and letting myself talk about everything honestly is the reason I can type any of this. I’m not dead because I am not meant to be dead yet. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t try and almost succeed many times. When I saw demons, I saw the visual confirmation that I had allowed me to drive myself insane with an inability to let go and forgive myself.

Imagine if, upon death, we meet our own inner critic. Imagine if we’re only forgiven of what we’ve forgiven ourselves. In Egyptian times, Ma’at weighed your heart against a feather. The Buddha said no man can inflict the harm of an undisciplined mind. In Jesus’ times, he said to forgive. AA (and not Buddha) said anger is punishing yourself for someone else’s mistake. All of this says to me: if you choose to hold the pain beyond its purpose, you create the hells of your own mind and making. The past cannot be changed, but it can be forgiven. It took so many years of pain to finally get the lesson.

We are all worthy of healing, forgiveness, and the arms of our own love. It doesn’t matter when or who told you that you didn’t matter or that love and pain are synonyms. It doesn’t matter what you did wrong. Love can heal marriages beyond repair, women beyond saving, decades of abuse, on and on. The unforgivables can always be forgiven. If you’re willing to work, if you’re willing to forgive. If you’re willing to start with the one who needs it most: yourself. I hope today and every day, we can all give each other the simple gift the Ho’oponopono taught me:

I am sorry.

Please forgive me.

Thank you.

I love you.

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