My sister has asked me this question multiple times throughout my journey and I use to respond with “I don’t know.”
The truth was at one time I really didn’t know. I use to believe it was some cruel divine joke; that I was not allowed to wallow in my despair and “enjoy?” the sadness that I knew I should be experiencing from whatever transgression had transpired. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel my depression from heartache, betrayal, or pain, but I always seemed to brush it off eventually and try again. I’ve wanted to give up more times than I care to really admit. I just can’t. I’ve tried. I just fail and failing, which in some instances creates this weird kind of irrational intellectualization of not being good at anything. Yeah, depression is a hell of a drug.
Over and over the pressures of life reared its ugly head in everything I chose or didn’t choose to be surrounded with. I lost people I loved, I was beaten and humiliated, I continuously lost the things I treasured. I allowed people to violate my boundaries and felt guilty for standing up for myself. I couldn’t help trying to bring light to everyone around me, even if it destroyed me little by little each time.
Some people cannot conceptualize such behavior, but I understood, subconsciously, at a young age that love and happiness keep us going in life. This isn’t some “Law of Attraction”, hippie peace on Earth, Utopia concept, but rather a clear realization that without the pursuit of the people and things that bring us true joy, there would be no purpose or meaning to go on. Think about it. If all we ever saw was the darkness and despair in the world, what would be the point in living? This is why suicide has a realm in which to exist. There is, sadly, no perception of love in sight.
It wasn’t that I didn’t know why I kept smiling, I just didn’t know how to verbalize my natural instinct and intuition. My motive has always been the acquisition of bliss and comfort.
I just go through shit storm after shit storm trying to obtain it.
For every moment of emotional desperation, there was a moment of hope. Not the kind of hope that is based on “things will one day get better”, but a more practical type of hope. It was the desire to not feel this way forever. That is the ultimate key in my ability to continuously move forward – I wanted, needed, to feel better.
As much as it was justified to be depressed when it occurred as a result of my environment or situation, I couldn’t justify staying that way. (Even if I could justify staying that way.)
The concept of turning Pain into Power isn’t so much about becoming some apathetic, warrior hero bulldozing everything in sight from people to emotions to small lovable rodents, but more about using pain as a fuel to continue.
Trust me, I tried the bulldozing method before, the fuck everybody and everything road, and the path of destruction isn’t worth the temporary feeling of empowerment. As a matter of fact, it’s not empowering at all. You just end up a bitter ass bully isolated from the original goal. Seeking true meaning in life and joyful fulfillment.
No one likes an unsympathetic asshole who takes their own pain and dishes it out to others to make themselves feel great. It’s how you ended up there in the first place – hurt people hurt people – and the cycle never ends.
Turning pain into an empowering action is about analyzing what caused it in the first place and transforming it into something else. Something you can use to make better changes in your life and the lives of others.
The fuck does that mean?
I get it. It is way easier said than done and sometimes it’s not easy to say. The mere thought of any turmoil you’ve undergone can spiral your emotions out of control. Even today I find myself struggling to transform certain memories into less traumatizing experiences that keep me on the defensive. I have a bad habit of letting it overwhelm me and I react impulsively.
It’s not a bad thing entirely, so you shouldn’t beat yourself about it (I have to remind myself of this often), by all means, it is quite necessary and healthy to unleash all of the pent-up aggression and pain. How we do it makes all the difference; the fact that we do it at all makes it significant and no one has the right the dismiss your feelings, including yourself.
The reason people don’t see the point in self-transformation or why it seems so difficult to do is because we aren’t actually doing anything with the pain other than allowing it’s carnal nature to wild about every-fucking-where. It’s like creating a fire. You can let it spread throughout the forest, unattended and with no regard for its power, or you can nurture it and keep it contained and use it to keep warm and roast marshmallows.
If you don’t know how to handle fire then it will burn uncontrollably becoming something unusable that’s meant to run away from to avoid being turned into a crispy chicken. If you learn how to handle fire and respect the carnage it can unleash if you’re reckless, you can find way more suitable and safe uses for fire than not having the knowledge in the first place.
It takes time and real dedication to delve deep into your own dark psyche and unravel the mess that lives there. You can’t start the book at the end or in the middle. You have to start at the beginning. The beginning, beginning. (Shout out @HaHaDavis).
I’m speaking about your birth, the relationship or lack thereof of your parents, your childhood, THE BEGINNING.
We carry with us consciously and subconsciously, every single moment of experience throughout our lives. Everything we are today is absolutely because of where we started from. Our childhood was the training wheels for our adult life. When you’ve gotten into an argument with a friend, lover, or family member I can bet my last nickel that you’ve said at some point in so many words:
“Well when I was a kid I wasn’t allowed to [insert restriction] and that’s why I [insert freedom or inability] today.”
These are pains we take for granted. We never analyze them. We speak about them, but then we just accept it as a part of growing up that holds no real weight because as adults we believe we have control over our lives. We don’t address our hurts and thus carry them with us for life – an uncontrolled fire taking shape in our daily lives however it chooses.
There is always the innate feeling in every person to feel good about themselves, what they are doing, and the people around them. It all comes from the single thought to do so.
I like tea so I feel great drinking it. I love choosing different varieties to suit my mood. I love the aroma when I’m brewing it. No one has to tell me to drink tea and enjoy it. I do because I choose to. I never had a bad experience with tea so I can’t attribute consuming it to any trauma. I carry no disdain for Earl Grey. He’s my homie.
I hate pork chops. Even though I stopped eating meat (you can check out that story here: The Vegetarian Struggle) when I was a meat eater I had a distaste specifically for pork chops. No matter how well someone else cooked it or how good it looked, I didn’t want it. Someone once asked if it was just the taste and I said no. I did eat pork chops and even cooked it myself, but I felt terrible afterward. I could not bring myself to enjoy the meal and I kept trying to eat it.
Pork chops to me are psychologically attributed to the relationship I have with my mother. She always overcooked it. It was tough and dry and I was forced to eat it almost every day. My mother is emotionally cold and detached. We don’t and will probably never get along no matter how many times I’ve tried to repair our relationship. When I see pork chops, I see her. I see depression and emotional abandonment. I’m triggered every time I see that slab of meat. The meat controls my emotions. A meat fire. It was the first thing I gave up when I changed my diet. I removed the pork chops and subsequently removed that part of my pain with my mother.
I still think of her when it comes to the chops, but I don’t have to eat it and I never will again. It is now a contained fire in that sense. I see it burning, I know why it burns, I don’t have to be burned by it any longer.
This isn’t what most people call a healthy way of dealing with pain. They will say I should have learned to eat the pork chops and NOT think of her. This is not a transformation to me. That is acceptance. It is the equivalent of forgiving the person who’s harmed you which I also do not agree with. I have been put through shit, so their answer is to keep putting yourself through shit until you get over it.
I turned my pork mother into a healthy diet which has brought about healthy living for my family and me.
It is the equivalent of forgiving the person who’s harmed you which I also do not agree with.
I don’t agree with the traditional concept of forgiving others. Again I don’t see the transformative power in forgiving people who have caused trauma. It’s one thing to “forgive” your best friend for lying about taking your favorite sweater it’s quite another to forgive your abuser or rapist.
We lump everyone in this forgiveness idea which is still the same as shoveling shit down your throat until you can one day stomach it. You can’t do anything with it. To everyone else you give the appearance of “letting it go” or “no longer letting it hurt you”, but the back of your mind you can still watch them burn to death and that fact that you could say ” I forgive” and their name in the same sentence leaves a bad, “I’m playing myself” taste in your mouth.
What you really want to do is forgive yourself. Fuck them.
Forgive yourself for feeling bad about whatever happened. Give yourself the support you need. Keep mentally beating up your abusers in your imagination if it makes you feel better because at the end of the day it’s about your healing, not theirs.
You don’t have to eat the chops.
In conclusion, this is the alchemy of life. Nature does not ignore, hide or bury its behavior, it transforms it. Dead animals become food for other creatures and fertilizer for the Earth. Earthquakes and volcanos shift and release pressure, but there is always a transformative use. New land. Water on the ground becomes water in the air. Something old becomes something new.
Our traumas, pains, and humiliations beg to be transformed into something useful. Pain can be beautiful and inspiring if recognized and molded to become such. We just have to be willing to put the work in. We have to desire the reconstruction of our emotions. We want to feel better and we can.