In the beginning, I embodied the pain.
It was thick, viscous, its foulness touching every part of my being until I no longer knew where I ended and the suffering began. I could no more escape its malevolent embrace than I could pull peanut butter from a child’s hair. We were one, the suffering and I. My anguish kept it fed and in return, it kept me company. I may not have had my marriage but I had the suffering that was left behind.
But slowly, ever so slowly, the anguish started to fade. The loss grew more distant and hope grew ever closer. Starved of its preferred sustenance, the suffering started to wither. Its suffocating heft grew to more manageable dimensions and its once viscous nature grew thinner. Weaker.
I felt the pain.
I would have moments, even days, where the suffering was unseen. But its absence was always short-lived and my brain had a trigger-finger that would herald its return at the slightest provocation. My body held the memories like the discs in a juke-box, ready to play with the touch of a button. As long as I didn’t approach, I was okay. But as soon as I recounted the tale, my voice would tremble and the pain would come rushing back as though it had been lying in wait.
And so I kept telling the story. And with each retelling, the heartache faded a little more. And the suffering grew weaker. My once constant companion became like a distant friend – we may keep in touch on Facebook, but we have no real need for face to face.
I remembered the pain.
And yet I kept living. I would revisit earlier writings or conversations and marvel at the emotions I carried. I would reflect back on those endless nights and my emaciated and shaking frame. I could speak of the suffering, but only in the past tense, for it no longer touched my soul.
Unencumbered, I learned how to trust again. How to love again. How to be vulnerable again. I learned to tell the story without emotion. Because it didn’t happen to the Lisa of today. It happened to the Lisa of yesterday. And I no longer recognize her.
I appreciated the pain.
Not for the suffering it provided, but for the lessons hidden within. It is a path I would have never chosen, yet it has led to more glorious pastures than I could have ever envisioned.
If you carry it too long, suffering will weigh you down and seek to asphyxiate you with its heft. But carry it long enough, and that weight makes you stronger. Lighter. Better for the experience.