Feeling Pain is Better Than Not Feeling

on reflecting about a friend of ours who is just kicking all kinds of ass lately in life, robb said “it’s funny what happens when people start to believe they’re valuable.”

so friggin’ true. and some people are lucky and learn it early and get so many more years to have fun with life. and also to get out of their own ways so they can live life well and better serve the people they love. and some people don’t catch on until late in life, or, sadly, ever, maybe.

but most definitely, the more we’re hung up on how awful we are or how much we need to be punished for our flaws/weaknesses, the more dull and dulled we are, the less we can give and love. and the more we are restless and unhappy. 

i’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it takes to be a complete person. to grow up and ’embrace your potential.’ i was looking through old pictures of myself from high school when i was home for thanksgiving. and notes and poems and stuff my friends and i wrote to each other.

i was pretty unhappy through most of my teenage years. this isn’t unusual, i’m sure. but i just remember always feeling unbalanced. like i definitely did not get myself and it freaked me out. i felt stifled and bored and always restless, searching. i never felt grounded and like i was making the right decisions for me, because i didn’t know who that was or what they might be. so i made efforts to feel more unbalanced. to date dangerously, to dapple in substances, to wallow and stay on the dark side.

and then i read ‘atlas shrugged’ by ayn rand. and i really started listening to God. (these are fairly unrelated, although i do NOT think you have to be atheist to be an objectivist. whole ‘nother topic). and i got close to robb.

and the three of those things together made me realize i could be kind of great. or maybe already was. it was a really hard thing to get to, since i’d spent a lot of time self-loathing. i was an expert.  but i realized how vain it was to stay consumed with myself, my crappy self.

eventually i concluded that i owed it to myself and the world to stop knocking myself around and be my best me. to keep growing and changing and thriving and live a life that is full and big and loud. to be hot with life. not to let it fester or get cold. to stay driven. stay excited. keep on loving harder, learning more and laughing bigger.

every few years i have to renew this pledge. usually life reminds me that i’ve gotten a little stale in it and i have to fight to keep fighting. after i was hospitalized and almost died 3 years ago, i lost what was left of my self-consciousness. (this isn’t french) FUCK IT was my new motto. every second i was alive and me and with the people who loved me and who i loved was a miracle and the other garbage that interferes with the joy in that? (still not french) FUCK IT.

and i don’t think i’m burying my head in the sand. i have known pain since and i’ve felt it acutely. and i’ve had my moments of self pity and meals of chocolate ice cream and cabernet, but i guess i’m good with that. i want to feel all the feelings and as large as they are. i don’t want to hide from them or dull them (ok, i mean, a little. come on!). i want to see myself through them and take pictures of the scars that they left once i’ve made it to the other side. the scars are what make me interesting. and able to give anything good to anyone else.

feeling pain is better than not feeling.” -‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ by Jonathan Safran Foer. i’m reading and loving LOVING this book and i read this quote today. 

i want to give people the gift of showing them they’re valuable. and you know, we have that power. to give or take that from people. which is why i think the quality i wish most on henry is kindness.

in general, as a parent, i want to get my kid to a place as soon as possible, where he is secure in who he is and actually enjoys it.

i pray: dear God, let him have so many moments of pure, good, true joy. and let him get himself through the painful times with a pure heart, knowing that he did right by himself and others and You. let him feel good about the decisions he makes and thrilled by the life he’s leading. let him know that he’d choose himself as a friend and treat himself thusly- with respect, pride, and admiration.

this has sort of evolved, but now every night when i’m putting him to bed, i whisper:

God loves you. mommy and daddy love you. grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles and cousins and family and friends love you. and you love everybody. because you are good and kind and sweet and smart and loving and beautiful and funny and fun and good. (i say that one twice because it seems important). and you’re doing a great job of being a person so far. it’s not always easy, but you’re doing a bang up job. i love you.

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