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Monday, July 25, 2011

Faking The Pain (Part 1 of 4)

I break from a meeting and check my phone.  A text comes through like a knife, and I learn that my friend’s illness has gotten worse.  I want to stop. To cry. To pray. To even breathe.

But I can’t.  I have to be back in the meeting in five minutes.

So I fake the pain.  I’m good at this.

After all, I’m getting paid to be strong.  Lawyers aren’t weak, and they certainly don’t cry during meetings.  And it’s not like my pain makes me special.  It just makes me normal.

For 30 seconds – before I re-enter the meeting – I argue with God.  What kind of God allows pain to be normal?

Why God do you put us in this skin and allow this charade to continue?  Is this really want you want?  For your children to wear masks.  And is everyone around me faking it too?

One in four people will suffer from mental illness in the course of a year. 

Over 40% of people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetimes.

The unemployment rate is approaching double digits (and men are 45% more likely to lose their jobs than women).

Of course we’re not fine.  No one is exempt.  But just like me, everyone around me is good at faking it. 

I pull myself together and head back into the meeting.  I really feel like shouting, “It’s not Halloween anymore.  Everybody, please take off your masks.  Starting with me!”

But I don’t shout.  And I don’t take off my mask.  I fake it just enough to make it through the day. 

Later, after work, I sit down at my laptop.  I look at my blog.  For 18 months I’ve written about kids, family, work, holidays, cooking, and even dancing.  I’ve written about everything but pain.  If you don’t know me – really know me -- you may think I lead a life of joy and bliss.  You have to read between the lines to find the pain.  But it’s there.

I hate pain.  I hate watching others in pain. 

But I’m tired of being afraid of pain.   So I’m going start writing about it – for the next three Mondays.   I’m going to finish that conversation with God and ask you to join me. 

Do you find yourself pretending like you’re fine on the outside when inside your are a mess?





16 comments:

Olivia Newport said...

Thanks for taking this on. A few months back, a friend asked why I read and thought so much about questions of suffering. I said, "Look at my life." And she understood. She herself has carried great pain but found great grace as well. So many Christians pray to be spared pain, rather than deepen their awareness of God because of the presence of pain in their lives.

A Joyful Noise said...

I take a step and give thanks that I can walk.

Only a few months ago I was on crutches with swollen legs and a diagnosed blood clot. I listened to my Dr and took a six months Warfarin treatment and the pain slowly went away, but not the swelling.

Then I resorted to a home remedy (Kombucha tea) and it worked. It took 3 weeks, but the swelling left in my ankles, and although my knees creek (old age probably) I can walk.

I continue to take the tea and thank God for old fashioned remedies that God has shown others and they pass it on through generations.

You probably know to say: "This too shall pass."

Laura@OutnumberedMom said...

Oh, of course I do. I think we all do.

And I don't like to wallow in it. Is that my pride? I think so.

I'll be interested to listen in on your conversation with God, Susan. You're brave!

Shanda said...

I too suffer from pain. Most people have no idea as when I am in bad pain, I am home, away from everyone. My P post in my A-Z challenge was actually about pain. I look forward to the next three Mondays to hear what you have to say.

Shanda said...

I too suffer from pain. Most people have no idea as when I am in bad pain, I am home, away from everyone. My P post in my A-Z challenge was actually about pain. I look forward to the next three Mondays to hear what you have to say.

Shanda said...

I too suffer from pain. Most people have no idea as when I am in bad pain, I am home, away from everyone. My P post in my A-Z challenge was actually about pain. I look forward to the next three Mondays to hear what you have to say.

Laura said...

This is a tough one, Susan. In my work, everyday I see people who are "just coping". Sometimes that's the best we can do. But it takes conversations like this one to carry us from coping to letting our pain grow and transform us.

I'm looking forward to hearing what you discover as you journey through.

Jen said...

I have found it's easier in some ways to just put on a mask instead of being real, but lately, God has really encouraged me to be vulnerable with any emotion. Looking forward to the next 3 MOndays!

Tina said...

Thank you so much for this post / series!

I once read something to the effect of -- without true grief, there can be no true comfort. I realized sometimes that I so resisted the pain, that I was also resisting receiving the comfort that I so badly needed. I pray that as we journey with you through this series, that our grief will be brought to The Comforter.

shrinkingthecamel.com said...

You go right ahead. "Pain makes you normal" - well that is so true, whether it is illness, relationships, economics, self-doubt... And by admitting it (either on your blog or with colleagues at work) you are taking a big step towards humanity. You open the door, just a crack, maybe, for others to share their own humanity, their own pain, with you. And you have to believe that is better than faking it.

Jean Wise said...

You are courageous to take this topic on. Too often we do put on a false front just to get through a meeting or because we don't want to look weak.

I wonder about the relationship between pain and anger too. I have lost too many family and friend to cancer and am angry at that disease. Sounds like you are too.

look forward to reading more of your thoughts

Ashby said...

Thanks for this Susan.

Sam Van Eman said...

I hear your frustration, Susan. For me, this mask-removal comes when I feel like my life is dishonest. Not a lying life, per se; just not transparent.

So I go through a season of being a more well-rounded psalmist, and the truth begins to set me free.

Michelle DeRusha@Graceful said...

You are brave, Susan. And your truth will help the rest of us take off our masks, too.

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing this. i find myself "faking" my way through pain...their is a balance i'm learning in sharing God's strength through suffering. blessings to you!
annette
http://continuedwonder.blogspot.com/

Connie@raise your eyes said...

My crippled & blind friend, who'd had many sorrows, would say that "this ain't Heaven, honey"...and this life is fraught with much pain.

I can choose to bleed on everyone, or determine to let GOD use it as He will...for His Glory, to bless others.

Praying for you and your dear friend as you walk in this valley.