Pain and the Ignoramous

Shit happens. And I don’t mean shit in a flippant way, like tripping in the mud or missing the bus. Sometimes life hands you really rough stuff.

There are those kinds of people, however, who go through life with everything falling into place, ticketty-boo, one thing happening after another in the natural order of things without much of a hiccup. I have spoken of such fortunate ones before, and I don’t begrudge them. But there’s something to be said for experience.

I have always thought that, although I haven’t had a HARD life, I have had to work a little bit harder for every good thing that I have. I had to actually try in school to get good grades, I dated for over a decade before I found a man I wanted to marry, I had to pay for everything I owned after age fifteen and I worked 7 days a week for almost four years to have something to my name. No, not terribly hard, but I’ve never had anything handed to me on a silver platter and it’s made me, if nothing else, resourceful and enormously grateful for whatever I do have.

The thing that has always kept me hopeful, and perhaps the reason I have lots of opinions on varying subjects, is because I have LIVED and TRIED and had fantastic and terrible experiences. If someone can confide in me in their troubled time, I usually have a decent idea of where they’re coming from. And I am thankful for that. We all know that the best catharsis in a time of need is to talk to someone who can fully understand where you’re coming from because they’ve been there themselves. Everyone else, although potentially well-meaning, cannot possibly relate.

We can all attempt to empathize, and if we’re good people we try our best to do so. But ultimately, unless we’ve been through the exact same thing, we just don’t get it.

You don’t know what it’s like to lose a child if your dad died. You don’t know what it’s like to be lonely until you’ve had absolutely no one to be with. You don’t know what it’s like to provide for yourself if you’ve always had a third hand slipping you twenties on the side. And you don’t know heartache until your heart has been torn in two.

I would like to appeal to all ignorant people reading this. I mean ignorant in the sense of not knowing what a specific experience is like, which we all are about certain things. CHOOSE YOUR WORDS WISELY. I don’t mean don’t offer support, I don’t mean don’t add your two cents where you tactfully see fit. And I don’t mean staying silent when all your friend wants to hear is that he has the right to be angry or scared or hurt. But saying to a heartbroken friend that her wayward husband’s lack of loyalty is a blessing in disguise DOES NOT HELP. IT ACTUALLY DOES THE OPPOSITE.

When people talk to you about their pain, they do so because they are still raw. They don’t need to hear how much better you are without the bastard, or how God has a special someone just around the corner, or how the deceased loved one is in a better place. They need you to grieve with them. They need you to feel their loss. They want you to tell them that they love you and they are there for you if you need something. They want you to be specific in your exhortations. Don’t make vague promises that you both know may or may not be true. If you believe a heartbroken friend will find someone else because they are a good catch, tell them that. If you believe your brother will be okay because he has marketable skills that many companies need, say it. If you’ve known loss and you can say with authority that the pain subsides with time, encourage with that.

I could have done without the latest event in my life. I may be many things, but I don’t treat people like shit and I didn’t deserve it. But I know it will make me more empathetic, because I now truly understand a great pain. That doesn’t make me grateful for the experience. The most I can hope is to, at the very least, be a comfort to other people going through the same thing.

(Do ask me to elaborate. This is a blog, not a one-on-one.)

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9 Comments

Filed under People, Things

9 responses to “Pain and the Ignoramous

  1. iGo

    Our neighbor lady Z. believed the symptoms she had unavoidable led to soon death. We, friends, all have run to comfort her. She was particularly concerned, if she is gone for real, about her two kids, 12 and 10 y. old. One of the friends, Miss M. consoled her with words:
    “Do not worry. Your husband is still fairly young, he can easily re-marry”
    Fortunately, lady Z’s symptoms were only of a hypochondriac nature and all went fine, but I produced a “curse” my friends still like to hear for the sake of a good laugh when bad things happen:
    “Let it be Miss M. to console you when you are dismayed.”

    Howsoever, there is an old saying among Orthodox Christians when bad things are upon us; I paraphrase:
    “Dear God, thou knowest towards which good this is heading to.”

  2. shawna

    I heart you L!

  3. Nav

    Seriously?? Did someone really say to you that this is a “blessing in disguise?”!! I would be livid!

  4. kelly

    thinking of you Laura, love you

  5. Jon

    Sometimes life does suck, I’m sorry to hear that you’re having a tough time. Do know there are people around you who are your friends, and who care, and I would give you a hug if you did that sort of thing.

    Instead, since we’re doing verses, and you know what a big Christian I am, I’ll leave Romans 8:35-39

    35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
    “For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    I’ll talk to you soon.

  6. I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through a very difficult time. And I’m sorry to hear that some people have been insensitive in the face of it.

    I think many people genuinely want to help, and don’t know how. But it can be very hard to hear their version of help, when it’s not helpful at all.

  7. DS

    Sorry things haven’t been getting better for you lately, but please remember that your close friends will stand by your side and hopefully find a way to make it easier for you. You are a great friend and don’t deserve this.

  8. jana

    For all it’s worth, I”m there too, thinking of you with sympathy and compassion. No one can stand in your shoes; there is no ‘one size fit all’ in life, and no two pains are ever the same. But they all hurt like hell; as one who has experienced it, I can feel for and with you.
    – And I wholeheartedly believe that you will come through standing tall and strong.

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