In Which We Are Afraid of Pain

Not physical pain (though that is quite scary too), but the kind that clutches your heart and squeezes ever tighter until you’re sure you will crumple up and never figure out how to stretch back into a real person.

That pain. The weighted pain of depression. The kind that comes from having to watch my Pig get sick and deteriorate and then die (we did not though have any bad days, not even up until the end and for that I am very grateful).

I have wondered lately why I feel like it’s not okay to experience this particular pain. Don’t get me wrong, first and foremost it’s uncomfortable, it hurts! But why do I feel like it’s wrong to say I feel this way. Perhaps it’s the same reason of why I don’t tell most people I write. Not a single person at my workplace knows I write or knows that I’ve been struggling this past month. And I have to wonder if this is because it’s at the deepest part of me. Writing is in my heart, which is the same place this hurt is birthed from.

Or perhaps it’s because if I whisper to someone that I’m feeling terribly empty, it gives them the opportunity to say that I’m hurting doesn’t matter. But it does. Very much so.

Last week my lovely, lovely friend Lauren Spieller said this to me during a particularly rough patch of doubt: You’re a good writer with good ideas. You’re suffering right now, and it’s making you doubt yourself. Don’t do that. I immediately cried and then posted it on Twitter. That bit of wisdom was retweeted and favorited some 25 times. Incredible (my tweets are never so popular). But that was.


I think it’s because we’re often afraid. At least I’m afraid of the pain, of the discomfort, of sitting around feeling the awful feels, waiting to ride out the storm. I never want to wait at the bottom of that very large, very difficult-to-climb-out-of-hole. I’m not that patient. I don’t like that pain.

I think when I admitted I was feeling especially crummy- other people related, other people needed that. They needed the don’t-doubt-yourself message, even if they too were going through something awful.

I’ve mourned Pig this week, but it wasn’t until Sunday that I allowed myself to stay on the couch all day, to really cry and eat a boatload of ice cream, and admit to myself how absolutely terrible I’ve been feeling. And to tell myself that it was perfectly alright.

In fact, I’ve had this post ready to publish for two days. Today I’m telling myself it’s okay to admit I’ve been feeling…oh-so-terrible.

Anyway guys, if you’ve been feeling like this too: be proud of yourselves. Keep working. Keep writing or doing whatever your passion may be. Feel like crap if that’s what you need. It’s what I needed Sunday, so it’s what I did and today I feel just a bit better.

(And of course a shout out to the lovely Lauren, Charlie, and Cat for piecing me together at times over the past two months with their endless conversation, bad jokes, and bunny spam.)

(Also, I’ve been thinking a lot about spirits and the after life, partly because my WIP is about this, but also because of Pig and the shooting in CT. If anyone wants to idea-churn/talk/anything-much-at-all, come find me on twitter or gchat.)

(Aaaand lastly, check out this post if you’d like to see what I’m reading over Christmas to help keep me in good spirits 🙂 )

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14 thoughts about "In Which We Are Afraid of Pain"

  • Chynna-Blue says:

    Thank you for this. I’ve been feeling swamped and stuffocated lately, and on top of that I’ve been feeling like a failure for not dealing with it the way I should be.

    You’re right. It’s okay to feel crappy – you d

    • Chynna-Blue says:

      *cont* don’t always have to bounce back and carry the weight with a big smile.

      Sorry about Pig. A few years ago, I lost my childhood dog. It was awful. I still cry sometimes.


  • Thank you for this, Juliana.I know you think I’ve helped *you*, but you’ve helped me just as much. I know exactly what you mean when you say you’re afraid of “feeling the feels.” Sometimes it’s easier to bury things, to pretend they aren’t there, that they don’t hurt.

    I also loved that you linked hurting over Pre and your writing — it makes so much sense that they both come from the same place. Brilliant. <3

  • Bad jokes? Hey, that was some hilarious content. 😉

    It sucks to have this kind of pain, because there’s no over-the-counter solution for it, nothing to make it feel better but sitting on the couch and crying and eating icecream, but that only barely mutes the side effects. My heart goes out to you during this time, but I have every faith that you will get dirt under your nails and climb out of that hole. You will emerge stained, but smiling, my dear friend. And I’ll shout every bad joke I know down to you until you make it! 🙂

  • Jess Byam says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Pig. *hugs*

    I’ve often wondered about this societal taboo against pain, too. People throw the question, “How are you?” around so casually, but if you’re completely honest with them, it always seems so uncomfortable for everyone.

    But I think your experience with sharing Lauren’s kind (and so very true) advice just goes to show how desperate we all are to know that we’re truly not alone in our struggles. Everyone has pain, and the fact that we all have trials and tribulations makes it easier, in a way. We don’t want to think about it, but when we know that others hurt, too, it allows us to reach out to one another in comfort and kindness. I’m a strong believer that God allows us to have trials so that we can help others through their own.

    That’s why people who who ask, “How are you?” and really mean it are so special. That’s the kind of person I want to be.

  • I’m so sorry to hear about Pig. You have every right to be depressed. Mourning the loss of a good friend is hard, animal or human. Good for you for giving yourself permission to have a bad day. Sometimes that’s all we need to face the emotions in our hearts and move on from them.
    Have a very Merry Christmas, Juliana!

  • Jamie Ayres says:

    So sorry for the loss of your pig. Mostly I pray in those kinds of times . . . indeed it is my comfort to always know I’m never alone. I pray you have a very Merry Christmas and experience many blessings in 2013:-)

  • I understand so very well. Depression seems almost shameful to have, it isn’t real to anyone but you it seems. And talking about it has been proven to often make it worse. Yet, writers talk, all the time, about everything in one way or another. Vicious circle much?

  • As someone who suffers from chronic depression, I can tell you it does end. Thank goodness. And when I do sink into those states, which happens less frequently lately, I cannot write. Just forget about it. But do try to do the things that take your mind off your depression. Visit friends, go to work, go for walks, exercise, whatever. Try to live as normally as possible.

  • I was so sorry to hear about Pig. It is perfectly ok to feel crappy about something crappy. And know you have a lot of friends just waiting if you ever need to talk <3

  • Candilynn says:

    So very sorry to hear you’ve been in such pain. I know it doesn’t feel this way, but time will heal your wounds. We had a lot of loss in our family in 2012. I’m so thankful for the new year. Although we never forget, our hearts do mend. Well wishes are being sent your way. Hugs.

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