Saturday, November 06, 2010

A passel of pain

On Facebook I mentioned dredging up pain from my past to bring a character to life. Those who know me well can guess what I referred to. Here's the result of this exercise in self-torture:

Marie sank against Ellen and surprised herself by bursting into tears. They spilled from between her closed lids, hot and stinging, accompanied by sobs that shook her shoulders and tore at her throat. Shame suffused her body, shame at losing control of her emotions, shame at caring so deeply about her father's ongoing slight, shame at her actions toward Bill Henry, who had only been trying to help her, after all. She sobbed on, despite Ellen's comforting embrace, despite her father's claim that he would see to her wants and needs, knowing that marriage to a reluctant Tom would never bring her the happiness Ellen enjoyed. Then she sobbed because she was a hypocrite, begrudging Ellen her joy because she was miserable. Finally, she sobbed because James was gone. James had left them, and she didn't know if she would ever see him again. Her last exchange with him had been to belittle his pain, to berate him for his heedless flight from grief. She had not said goodbye.

Do you harbor pain? Can you use it somehow to help others?


  1. I cannot speak for others, but for me, when emotion-generated pain hits, a good cry cleanses me, erases my self-pity, improves my prospective, and is as refreshing as eight hours of sleep.
    As a whole, I dislike crying, and deny myself that 'pleasure' until I feel I can bear no more pressure. Then welcome tears, and some good, hard, shoulder-shaking, sobbing into a pillow for a minute or so gives me welcome relief, and after I splash cold water over my face, I feel fine.
    The back side is that the longer I cry, the more time it takes for that splotchy, tell-tale redness to disappear from around my eyes.

  2. Pain humbles me, makes me more aware of what others are experiencing. I am learning that I can be afraid of it...creating more pain...or I can face it head on and recognize its purpose. Then I can focus on gratitude and serving others and helping them find the same kind of peace.

  3. Oops - sorry. I used my blogger id instead of my wordpress one. I deleted the other post. :/

    Beautiful post, and I believe you can use all aspects of life to benefit everyone. That's why we have opposition in all things - to experience and learn. If we allow ourselves to, then we get to prosper, whether in health, wealth, whatever.

    Have you read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years? Great analogy of life and story - he contends that we all need conflict just as a story does. I think he's right.

  4. Marsha, I have struggled terribly with depression--especially on my mission and early years of my marriage. Many years later as a bishop, I was able to reach out to those in my ward and I believe that my struggling was something that allowed me to help them. This post is great food for thought.

  5. In reading Braden's comment, it reminded me of something that happened several years ago. I had a hard childhood (parents divorced, poor, health problems)and used to think sometimes that God didn't love or bless me as much as he did others. Then one day, when I was serving as 1st counselor in a RS presidency, I was sitting in a stake meeting and the speaker was writing things on the board, a list of all the different problems that women might come to us for help with. I stared in astonishment, as I realized I had gone through every single one of them, except one. It was then that I realized that God was simply teaching me, so that I have understanding and compassion for those others that I would come in contact with. Every thing that happens, even pain, has purpose.


I welcome your comments.

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