Have you ever been told get over it and move on? So have I.
I am still on the subject of pain because it has so many facets. I remember periods in my life when on the outside I got over it and walked on but it wasn’t true inside. If you met me, I was happy and carefree but on the inside I was bleeding, dying and in very deep pain. Why? Life had been hard and it was taking its toll on me but the need to be strong and stable striped me of the ability to be vulnerable and actively address the pain in my life.
A few years ago I met a young lady, let’s call her Ally, several times in different settings and on the third meeting she asked me if I was, ‘The Kyesubire?’ I had an idea what she meant but I still asked ‘Which one?’ Oh my! She described me in living colour based on things based on a previous broken relationship and I simply said, ‘Yup, the one and only.’ What was it? I had walked away from a relationship without a backward glance into a beautiful life leaving the other person reeling. But was it true that I walked away scot free? Without any knowledge of my side or state of heart and mind, she and many others judged me as mean and unfeeling.
That day we had a long conversation that has come back to me the last few days.
She had never met me but those who saw me ‘walk tall and go on with life’ without knowing what was going on inside told her about me. In turn she judged me as unfeeling from people’s interpretation of my outer face without even meeting me or knowing what I looked like. I knew this was happening because people I had never met were cold as ice and I only made the connection when I realised which circles they walked in. The pain shook me because I had never faced such widespread hatred by people I didn’t even know.
‘Why did you make it appear like you were fine?’ Ally asked shocked to find out how a strong outer experience can be a mask for deep pain.
‘It would be used against me if I was broken, so I toughed it out,’ I replied.
‘Didn’t it kill you inside?’ she asked.
‘It almost did, but I survived,’ I replied
‘How did you survive?’ she asked
‘I shut down and didn’t deal with the pain until I had the strength to do so,’ I replied.
‘Why?’ she asked.
‘That was all I could do at the point.’
It took me many years to deal with the pain of this situation but I grew in the process.
I have since walked away relationships and friendships when I realised I am or can cause the other person pain and things are unlikely to change. The hardest part in relationships is realising that there is no end to the pain and we are better off apart. As one who loves deeply and totally this has been one of the hardest things to learn but I now understand that if I being with me will cause one of us to fail in the end I must leave even if you don’t understand right then. I fight for important relationships but when I also let go when being together will create a form of death or loss.
It is very easy to be judged because of a side of me that people don’t or didn’t see. They didn’t see the years I spent second guessing my worth because of making an unpopular choice. They didn’t see the deep sadness and loneliness in the ensuing days because of lost routines and networks. They didn’t see the struggle of faith because the very people I expected to walk with me shunned me for a choice they thought wasn’t good but in time has proved to be the best choice ever. They couldn’t see because I couldn’t dare show it to them without looking foolish; or so I thought.
My healing came when I learnt that I am not perfect and I can cause pain to others. Healing was a journey with lots of help along the way. There are a few things I need to highlight that helped me along the way:
- Self-reflection: I had to look within and understand who I am, why I am here, whether I am on track, where I got on track and if I could get back on track. I had to look and see the pain I had and continued to cause others. I had to face it even if it was hard because in life we aren’t taught to easily accept that we have made a mistake or a wrong turn and need to course correct. This step set the important pace to healing because it enabled me realise I wasn’t perfect and also have an end game to work towards. I am still working towards that goal.
- Honest People: I remember the thing that kept me going at the beginning was an unlikely group of friends. A few of my male friends came alongside me and became my crew. They checked on me every day, the caught me up on all the things people were saying about me, they invited me to hang out and made sure I ate. They taught me that I have to be deliberate in life to build a community who believe me, stand by me, are confident enough to challenge my ideas and opinions. They taught me the value of total acceptance and no judgement. It took a few more years for me to really be able to accept totally and not judge but they set the foundation for me. In the ensuing years, we are no longer close but I know I need to have a few close people to hold me to account.
- Emotional outlet: It was important to let the pain out in tears but mine used to be non-existent so I didn’t have that outlet. I didn’t even know how to throw things or scream to relieve the internal pressure. What did I have? I had words and hands, simple huh? I poured out my heart, fears and would be tears into a heap of journals, some of which I destroyed as I dealt with matters. They became the outlet I needed to deal and the place to find peace at the end of the day. They still allow me to go back to the remaining ones and remember how I need to keep growing no matter how challenging it gets.
- Counselling: There were things I couldn’t handle alone so I sat with a professional in to work through the issues. What was interesting was all the people I sat with emphasised that I couldn’t change the other person so I must focus on dealing with me and the things within me that needed changing and growing. It was hard at first because we would identify how I felt, why I felt that way, who caused it, how it was affecting me and how to get back to healing. These sessions helped me realise that I could only change me and that had to be my focus.
- Closure: I learnt it wasn’t always possible to find closure on my one so as often as I could I went back to people I had differences with and had difficult conversations. In these chats we had some of the most intense conversations. In time I realised that sometimes when relationships end, one side may not know what happened or why things went south while the other has a clear idea. I found that both sides have differing opinions of why and how it affected and honest deep conversation could start deep healing. I found that I had to be so present and honest and even though it was hard we came away as better, more grounded people. What could be better than that?
- Forgiveness: The thing that has blown my mind is how the simple act of asking for and receiving forgiveness has major healing power. It was unreal when after a long conversation one of my friends asked for forgiveness for the pain caused yet I was the one who walked away. Another apologised for not protecting me when people begun to tearing me apart by telling his side. I was always the culprit who assumed they knew why I left so I was always on the hook apologising for the assumptions. In the last year I have seen how forgiveness changes situations and I am glad to be part of them.
There isn’t a simple way to deal with the pain of life but to deal, deal, and deal. We cannot hide from it or walk away, but we can deal with it and use it as fuel for the next phase of life. Once through the process, I realised that the pain of my past was the best classroom and launch pad for my life. I learnt to walk free and light because even when I could not talk it out with those causing me pain or those I have caused pain, I could work through it and come out on the other side stronger and better.
I am better because of the pain I have been through. I am less judgmental and legalistic. I am more compassionate and understanding. I still demand 100% from myself and my people but I no longer expect people to move at my pace but push them to move swiftly at their pace. In the middle of pain it feels really bad and we want it to end but on the other side of pain I find that we have more strength that we ever thought possible.
I therefore say, don’t avoid pain, deal with it, learn from it and become the best version of you.
You are beloved.