Because pain doesn’t need to rule or ruin me

painPain—an ache from which I seek relief.

Pain—a feeling to be avoided.

Pain—a thing I had hoped could be eliminated.

There is this illusion that a sober life will be a pain free life; I will eventually arrive at this sunny place of completeness accompanied by a pain-free living zone.

When this bright day doesn’t arrive (in my preordained time frame), I get this brilliant idea that a drink will solve something. I settle for the escape. It has yet to occur to me that life is my interaction with that which is around me; both the highs and the lows (The Law of Polarity).

Unless life is always going my way (never happens, for anybody) and/or I am in complete acceptance at all times (I’ve yet to meet this person), I will be experiencing pain or something like pain. No human is

exempt from these feelings.

My addictive mind could not stand discomfort. Escape was always at the forefront of my thinking. I was an avoider. Pain was better felt later—in every circumstance. Even when consequences rose with my prolonged avoidance, I did not care ENOUGH to step into the pain now rather than later.

If I am to remain peaceful I must learn to live with pain, at least until it passes. It needn’t be my best pal. I need only learn what to do with it when it arrives.

Essentially I learn: to step in when required, avoid when possible, and/or endure as nature dictates.

#1 Step-In

The non-favorite, as it requires that I say yes to the pain—now. The downside: I am welcoming a certain discomfort—now. The upside: I experience that feeling pain won’t harm me. I experience that I can endure pain. I experience that I am stronger, emotionally and/or spiritually, than I previously recognized. I am not as scared or worried to try it a subsequent time. I increase my personal armory; my overall sense of power and well-being as it relates to self.

#2 Avoid

A misunderstood tool because of misuse. Avoidance isn’t meant for me to remain free of the natural consequences of my behavior. (Which may very well be painful. Refer to #1 for a better coping tool.) Avoidance, by design, keeps me from harming myself. When used appropriately is a perfectly acceptable tool. I avoid that which harms me or those whom I love. In other words, I stay out of disaster’s way as is possible.

The place I struggle is knowing what is avoidable and what is not. I shoulder unnecessary pain by believing I have the power to eliminate another’s pain. Other people’s pain is for them to feel and cope with. My pain is for me to cope with. When I try and redirect another’s life (and feel pain doing so) in order for them to avoid pain I am disabling them to life-on-life’s terms. I am also giving myself a false sense of power over their destiny.

Avoidance, used appropriately, means I sidestep entanglement in something I ultimately have no power to change. I keep the focus off of the other person and I keep the focus on me. Where do I need to grow? Where can I change my perspective? What can I bring that will benefit this situation? Where do I need to keep my mouth closed?

#3 Endure

By default, most of us would rather avoid this one. However, when done with compassion and discipline it can actually eliminate some of the pain. When I say ‘endure’ I am not suggesting one suffer in silence. I am suggesting it be felt and dealt with for as long as it remains an issue. Endless, hopeless enduring of anything painful will break me. Daily managing will make me stronger.

Example: I am going through a big awareness of my daughter’s limitations as she developments. It has been the longest academic year of my life. I am charged by teachers, administrators, and professional opinions at every turn. I was completely unprepared to cope with this situation, yet it is here and I must deal with the pain it produces. So where I can, I Step-In to educate myself and make prudent decisions. I Avoid those people or opinions which do not serve the greater good, and I Endure my real/perceived failures, feelings, fears, short-comings, negative thoughts, doubts, unending question, anxiety, and tears.

I journal and let my pain speak to me, but I do not let it badger me. I journal and let my pain be heard, but I do not let it take over the whole conversation. I journal until there is no more to write, and I free myself from redundant thought … until a new thought arrives. And then I journal some more. And some days I need to put my pain into a pretend box on my desk and let it rest there a little while until I am ready to feel it again.

I feel the feelings fully, believing in the end that Love will win. How do I know Love will win? Because Love always wins.

I can find no moments in my past where my pain did not drive me forward to be something better, someone better, than I had previously been.

Pain no longer rules my day, only some moments—until I catch it.

Pain no longer ruins anything.

It is a thing to feel.

When I am done feeling it and it is done serving its purpose … I can move away.

27 Responses to “Because pain doesn’t need to rule or ruin me

  • Great post,I’m keeping these for future reference.

  • “And some days I need to put my pain into a pretend box on my desk and let it rest there a little while until I am ready to feel it again.” Wow. I love this. Thank you so much for the post, the phenomenal book (I’m on my second reading of it!), and for sharing your journey with us. Love and Light~Britt

    • Your kind words are lovingly welcomed. I, too, need to keep reading and learning. Life is always rolling something new my way. You keep me sober and strong as well. Don’t ever forget that. We grow together. Always.

  • Enlightening post, as always, Lisa, and sorry to hear of your daughter’s struggles. I will keep her and you in my prayers! If you ever feel so inclined, I would love a part 2 of this post, where you determine which of the three options is your best. I think of certain instances in my life right now, where I am choosing one option, but wonder if it is truly the right option? Not sure if that makes any sense, but if it does, and you have something to share on it, I for one will be reading 🙂

    Hope your summer is going splendidly!

    • Thank you Josie. Summer has been good. Overall it’s nice for the change in ritual: the warm beach breeze, longer days, and a little sleeping in. Somehow, despite the challenges of life, I manage to always end up feet first. Being sober is the key and being in love with God is surely the vehicle. I am beyond blessed with family and friends to support me.

      As for my daughter, she has a summer course (summer school) which isn’t going over big, but …. “life on life’s terms,” even when you’re eleven. I’m the enemy right now, but I trust in my intuition and feel strong to bear the burden of her emotions. Being a mom is just tough sometimes. You always give me encouragement, so thank you.

      ps … you ALWAYS make sense to me! xo

  • debbiebarlow@cox.net
    5 years ago

    What an awesome post

    • Awww, a name from the past. You still here reading? I need to get you posting blogs on this site. You are an amazing sober woman. xox

  • I love this post. You never cease to amaze me. Amazing thoughts and amazing writing. Thinking of you and your daughter.

    Luvs ya.

    • Hey Just A New Me, Thank you for the kind words. I am back in town from my mom’s place and will be sending over an email later today. Thank you for your patience. I adore you. Thank you for sending the love my way.

  • Awesome post. Thank you.

    • Thank you for commenting. I just went over to your site and started reading a bit about you. The sober blogging community is great (at least that has been my experience). Looking forward to getting to know you and share in recovery. Lisa

      • You are welcome Lisa and thank you for supporting my blog and commenting. It is a great group of uplifting supportive people. Hope you have a great week.

  • Love always wins.

    Brilliant.

    And so, so true.

    Sherry

    • Sherry, You always manage to find a gem, “love always wins.” As I deal with my girl today, I am feeling pressed, emotionally. The timing of reading your comment was perfect. Thank you for your continued love and support. I am again reminded that when in doubt or discomfort, the best place to fall is with my people. You are my people. xoxox L

  • Wow, thank you, this is just what my heart needed today. I am new to your writing and to recovery. Your blog is wonderful and a source of inspiration for me. Blessings

    • Thank you for the kind words and welcome. I have read and been inspired by numerous writers over the years. Stay close to those who sing to your heart and trust the Love within you. Stay connected to those with similar goals …your life will sing. It will be tough at times, but oh so worth the struggles of living in integrity with self. Blessings back. Lisa

  • I know you have a book already, but you may want to consider putting one together from all your posts. I can’t think of one post that isn’t poignant, informative yet personal and just so dang well written. I am always in awe of how you can say so much in few words. There is a profoundness in your writing, that just crosses over the screen and grabs me.

    The ideas of pain as you see them is brilliant. We have heard that pain is the touchstone for growth (and I would argue that sometimes lack of is also good for growth), but how do we move through it? How do we “manage” it, or at least see it for what it is? You get down to brass tacks and that is what I love about this. Spritiual and practical. And always you. Wonderful you in there 🙂

    Thank you for this, Lisa. Loved it…really did.

    Paul

  • Lisa! So beautiful. I have been feeling so much pain lately, and this was JUST what I needed to read today. I love what you wrote about feeling my own pain, and allowing another person to feel their own pain. That my pain is mine to cope with, and that I find I can endure it and go on. Blessings to you, Lisa.

    • What a delight to see you here. Thank you for the kind words. You will find your way. It’s never a straight line, but you’ll find your way. My love, Lisa

  • Great blog post Lisa. There’ll always be the pain, whether you drink or are in the process of giving up drink, but the pain of recovery is a lesser one and one I’d prefer to have. It does dim over time though. It’s been over 7 sober years for me now and while still there, it’s now nearly unnoticeable.

    • Thank you. I relate. I think I thought a sober life was a pain free life. You’re way ahead of me. It took me 10 years to see this.

  • Inevitably, you always post what I need to hear in a timely fashion. Thank you.

    • You are welcome. I feel the same emotion when I read blog posts. I always connect. Most times I find what I didn’t even know I was looking for. How does life find you?

  • Lisa,

    Firstly, I want to say how grateful I am for the time and effort you put into your posts. I am more of an impulsive writer, but your work is very deep, and well thought out, and I appreciate the effort.

    I think people can learn a lot from this post, and more musings about pain. In my circle of friends, and family, I noticed a long time ago that they were attaching pleasurable experiences to alcohol, and not painful ones. I myself did the same. I remember once sticking my head through a glass window for a laugh. I attached a pleasurable thought to that by turning it into a funny story. When I quit, I used pain as a tool. I changed my beliefs and searched out each ‘so-called’ alcoholic pleasure and turned it into pain.

    “I need only learn what to do with it when it arrives.”

    I did not feel low, depressed or anxious when I attached pain to my experiences, because I was prepared and knew what to do with the pain once it arrived.

    “I can find no moments in my past where my pain did not drive me forward to be something better, someone better, than I had previously been.”

    This is so true, and it’s not just you. This is true for everyone. They just need to reflect and find the goodness and they will see it.

    Keep up the good work.

    Lee

    • Thank you Lee. You always have reflection that makes me think. Yes, we have very different writing styles. That’s one of the reasons I love reading good writers’ blogs. I notice the value in our differences and appreciate the technique and style of writers at different stages of recovery. While my life and recovery are evolving, so is my writing. I am a lover of reading. Seems there is just more to learn in this life time than time to do it.

      Thanks for reminding me to continue to reflect.
      Lisa

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