The pleasure of pain
In life, people say that the only things that are guaranteed are death and taxes. I’d like to add one more thing to this list, and that’s pain. Pain is the one thing that no one wants to experience, but everyday pain floats freely in and out every living being on this planet. We all experience pain in different ways and some pain is worse than others. I think the one I’ve experienced the most and become accustomed to is physical pain. Being an athlete for the better part of 16 years I have dealt with broken bones, surgeries, countless bruises, and scars that show up out of nowhere as if I was fighting demons in my sleep. But I overcame it all. Nothing seemed like it was too much for me, I felt as I could play through any injury and block out the pain that my body felt as I ran out onto the field. For this reason, I thought that I was a “strong” person and someone who had a high pain tolerance. Boy was I wrong, I discovered an entirely new meaning for the word pain when I experienced my first dose of emotional pain. Now sure I’ve dealt with the loss of a family member, and it’s something that should not be downplayed because I still can feel the tightness in my chest when I think about my aunt who died when I was a sophomore in high school. Or seeing the complete distraught of my father who seemed like superman to me at the time, break down crying hysterically of his mother’s grave when I was just ten years old. But none of this would prepare me for the emotional pain that comes from heartbreak. When you relate to someone spiritually, physically, and emotionally in essence they become a part of you. A quick Bible lesson, when God first created Adam, he made him out of the dirt and then created Eve from Adam. That’s why sex is so powerful because it is creating the feeling of two souls becoming one just as Adam was once one soul before God created Eve from him. I hate being a simp, but every human is one when you think about it. We are beings who long for connection with one another, and it doesn’t always have to be relational. We are all searching for like-minded individuals who make us feel like we belong in this fallen world full of chaos and strife. People who encourage us and push us to become our better selves and make us feel like even though we are one of 8 billion people that live on this planet, my life matters, and I can make a difference. That is what life is about.
But what happens when that person who was your Adam or Eve leaves. You feel incomplete and as if a part of your body that allows you to function daily was removed. I know this feeling firsthand and it fucking sucks. But I write this to say that there is a silver lining in all of this. That there is a pleasure in the pain that we feel day in and day out. I think that the best remedy for pain is hope. And I know that probably sounds like bullshit, but I think so. Hope is what fuels us and keeps us going. Hope for better days to come, hope for a new future and perspective, hope that even without that person we can still be who we always wanted to be. The pleasure of pain is that we always grow from it. Growth is very uncomfortable, and most people do not like it. We are also creatures of comfort and stability, and growth is everything but that. But it is necessary to reach the heights of our deepest desires. In my sophomore year in college, I suffered a terrible foot injury that resulted in major surgery. The steps of recovery go as followed:
1. Extreme pain and discomfort: This was directly after surgery my whole body hurt and felt weak. I can barely stand on my own two feet and am probably as helpless as a 2-month-old baby. Although it is such a funny story, ironically it will go down as one of my lowest points during my recovery process. So, I’m in the dorms alone and all my teammates are at football practice. Since my whole leg is wrapped up in a cast I am on bed rest and pretty much need help to do anything, but I desperately needed to take a shower. So, I muster up enough confidence to roll myself out of bed, put a trash bag around my leg, and get in the shower. The medical staff had provided me with a handicapped shower chair to use so I could sit down in the shower. At first, everything is going smoothly until my chair breaks from underneath me. I end up falling into the tub badly injuring my head on the tile wall and my leg which is very tender with a lot of fresh stitches in it hitting the toilet with what seemed like the force of an 18-wheeler. I let out a scream and sat there defeated. Shortly after, I hear the door open, and it is one of my teammates. I scream for him to come to help me and as soon as he opens the door, he immediately bursts out into laughter looking at me completely naked laid out in the tub with soap all over my body.
2. Helplessness: Something that I could once do great I was not able to do anymore. My road to recovery was long and stressful. I had to re-learn to walk again because I had certain bones taken out of my left foot. This feeling of having to start over made me feel helpless. At times I felt as if I wasn’t going to be able to shake the thoughts of doubt that would enter my brain daily. But as they say, time heals all…
3. Regaining confidence: As time went on I became stronger and faster. Walking used to be an extremely hard thing now I am running sprints and starting to feel like my old self again. The process is still hard, but as the days go by you will start to regain confidence in who you once were before the injury.
4. Growth: The last step of my recovery ended with growth. I made it back to 100% just in time to go and compete in spring practices. I went into that spring with a chip on my shoulder to go and prove that I haven’t lost a step. I took all the pain and agony I felt over the last few months and channeled it all into football. That was the best month of football I think I ever played. Going through all the heartache and adversity changed me for the better. I found pleasure in my pain.
The beauty of all of this is that the scars never go away. Still to this day I can look down at my leg and foot and see the scars from surgery. I can still feel the pain that I felt in every moment. But when I look at my scars, I don’t feel sadness, I feel like a conquer because something that was supposed to break me didn’t. At certain times I didn’t think that I would be able to recover from pain like this, but I did, and I came back better than before. That’s why I say there is pleasure in pain because without that pain I wouldn’t have been able to step into the future as a new me.