How do you handle pain? Such a negative and stark emotion. It leaves you bare and vulnerable, and to be vulnerable means you are no longer protected behind your mask. For do we not all wear masks? These masks that hide our true selves. For some, the masks become so entrenched that they can no longer see their own self. They lose touch with their emotions and inner desires, and confusion may reign, but what to do then? Why not put on another mask? Create an identity and live on the surface, never digging too deep. Constantly running from your own inner pain. You hope that the faster you run, the more masks you were, that in the end you will escape your pain and be free.
But that is not how life works. Pain and suffering catches up to us soon enough, and if we are ever able to grow and thrive as a healthy human being, we must face that inner pain and walk through it to the other side. In this age, who is willing to go through such a hardship? Is it not easier to just tuck the pain away and forget about it?
Pain doesn’t go away, it manifests itself in different ways, affecting your life in ways you may not expect. Like a deep wound to your side, if left forgotten, hidden by clothes and sanitized cloths, hoping against hope that if it is ignored, the pain shoved far from your mind, you can forget the deep side wound, but it is still there, blood is lost and infection takes root. You begin to notice your vision is spotted on occasion, that you are weaker than you normally are, that what you used to be able to handle is a hardship, and so you withdraw, seeking new ways to avoid the truth. Another mask to keep people from drifting too close and smelling the stench of death on your body. The infection begins to take root in not just your side wound, but also your inner organs. You are weaker and more frail, and it is then that you realize, as you now lie close to death, that because you did not care for that wound, because you did not seek to heal it, it has taken your life from you. Your masks cannot save you.
Only you can save yourself. Healing will require pain as well as hope. This is a lesson I have learned years ago, and so I fight through my pain again and again, but it is far too often that I stand on the sidelines and watch this happen to someone I love. It doesn’t matter what I do, for in the end, I cannot save them. I can only reach out a hand of support as they save themselves, and I can only hope and pray that they will come to the realization and seek to save themselves before they die on the inside.
It is not the outward death that most experience. It is not suicide of which I speak. It is the death of the soul. Far too many draw close to such a death, and some escape, healing with time and energy and determination. Others never make it, and there is a death inside of them, one from which they never truly recover. It is heart-breaking to watch.
There is far too many in my life right now that are near that edge. I hope and pray for them, reaching out my hand in support, but it is not enough. If they do not wish to save themselves, there is nothing I can do. Until they realize this truth themselves, I can only watch. This is the true pain of empathy, understanding someone else to the point of understanding and watching helplessly the pain and suffering another must face.
This is why it is best we cannot see the future. For if we saw the suffering we may experience, who would wish to live? Would any of us be strong enough? I would like to believe we would be, but often I am left wondering that if I knew what would happen to me, knowing that I could not avoid such a fate, how would I respond? Would I try to live the best I could anyway? I’d like to think I would. It the same mind exercise I put myself through when I contemplate the idea if a friend of mine was about to die – would I seek to save their life but lose my own? This is the ultimate love, giving of yourself so another may live. I would like to believe I would. That is the kind of person I have sought hard to be.
That is not what others have decided to be. Not all make the same decisions and not all of us deal with the pain and suffering of the world in the same way. To seek to understand these differences is the most we can do, and accept that dealing with suffering involves many different paths, but it is up to the person experiencing it to understand what paths are healthy for them and what are not. Otherwise, they too will fall down the dark path of masks and running from the truth.