“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
Kahlil Gibran said that, and yet for so long I played hide-and-go-seek with pain. By avoiding tough talks, keeping my heart closed off, and trying to please others, I thought I could avoid the raw ache that life could bring.
Vulnerability? I’d rather just bite my tongue for as long as it takes for this awkward moment to go away, thanks.
(Sneaky trick: I’ll try a subject change: “The weather is pretty great today, hey?”)
Feelings? All good! I’m fine. I’ll just place this pain in my gut for a bit, ignore it and then when I feel like shit I’ll pop some pills when I’m feeling sick!
(Lesson learned: Fears are lazy tenants you’ll need to evict.)
Love? I don’t want to drown so I’ll just dip my toes in, hide my emotions, find an easy way to explain the pain as I lay awake telling more fibs.
(Spoiler alert: That’s not how love works.)
We can try and run away from ache and pain, but here’s the thing: Life is the undisputed champion of hide-and-go-seek. You can hide from hurt, but it’ll find you one day. You can run away to the basement of your brain, cover yourself in lies and disguise, even glue a fake smile on your face, but it won’t work forever. Life will find you, tired and depleted from trying to be something you’ll never be: Invincible. Invisible. Perfect.
Besides, pretending is absolutely exhausting.
I repeat: Pretending is exhausting, and when we are tired, we get stressed, we smile less, we have less fun, we make worse choices, and our dreams come undone.
Do you see how this could be a bad situation?
Do you see how you can never win with false intentions?
Do you see how you can never be anything better than truly yourself?
The world will rip you apart regardless of your armor, and life will see through you no matter the makeup or excuses. In spite of our defenses, we are ultimately defenseless.
That’s what makes us human.
That’s what makes us free.
That’s what makes us real.
For too long, I sought to stay small, get out of pain’s way, and avoid and deflect any threats to my comfort. I liked my bubble. It felt nice, normal. I was safe there but I was so scared of getting hurt that I forgot that life requires risk. I forgot that who I am is exactly what I missed when I was trying to find answers in alcohol, books, and to-do lists.
I’ve since stopped trying to avoid getting cut by life as I’ve realized there is no running away from feelings, no long-term way to successfully hide my heart from the world.
Now I focus on healing quick, to process pain, extract the lesson, and move forward faster.
I let it bleed, let it heal, and let it be.
That’s my new goal: Scar faster than before.