Is Your Pain Worse…Is My Pain Worse…Does It Matter?

With all the experiences I had when I was younger, my parents would always tell me that there are others who experience worse things. This, of course, is very true and it’s not my intention or desire to dispute that. At the same time, I realize that the true reason why I was told this was so that those who said this were justifying what they were doing: they had no care or concern for what anyone else was experiencing. Their words didn’t come from any source of compassion or empathy, but were said in the pursuit of self justification. So while the statement remains very true, I have a different perspective on these words than those who first spoke them.

I like to see others succeed. Those others didn’t (and don’t) mind it so long as they “win” more and others are “less than.” So long as they have more than or are “better than,” it’s all okay. Personally, I strive for personal excellence. I do not compare myself with others, but with the greatest adversary of all – myself. I do not compare myself to others. I do not compare what I have “achieved” or what I posses with anyone else. My sole focus is to achieve all that I am capable of in conflict with myself and the baggage, the “troubles” I’ve accumulated in my life.

All my life I’ve looked to others for validation and support. This, unfortunately, has not happened. I suppose I had greater expectations for the level of empathy and compassion within others. Yet I’ve had nothing less than the standard I’ve always held myself to. Everyone has challenges and “troubles.” Some are greater and some less than what I’ve experienced. Yet in my pain, I needed the assistance and support of others. My own “troubles” may not have been as bad as others…but it’s been bad enough. I don’t measure myself against others in success, nor to I measure myself against others in the abuse I’ve experienced. It’s not a competition. Everyone needs help sometimes. What a world we would live in if more folks could empathize with the pain others experience rather than only seeing the world from within themselves.

As I have experienced pain (and continue to), I feel drawn to heal pain and suffering with others. I feel compelled to assist, validate and support others who are suffering and in pain. Unfortunately, I’m coming to find that until I can actually heal my own pain – until I can at least become functional – I’m not well equipped to do anything for anyone. This fills me with shame and self loathing. I do what I can for my spouse and child – at times sacrificing my own sense of peace and health. I do what I can for others as opportunities present themselves and as I’m aware of them. But know that I am no saint. I do not live within a Walt Disney story and I am no hero. I’m cantankerous, stubborn, filled with anxiety, at times filled with and express inappropriate anger, a bit narcissistic and am definitely a bit neurotic. But I believe in the better part of what I am, and ever strive to invoke an inner “Light”: I choose to act upon that “Light” which is within us all.

You have such “Light” within yourself as well, my friend. No matter what has happened, you have that “Light” within you as well.

It can be hard to see it, I know. There are often times when I certainly can’t see it and doubt the existence of it within myself. This is where faith comes in: I choose to believe in a better world even when confronted with the seemingly complete absence of it. If there is none, I shake my fist at the world and declare my commitment to create light in the face of a seemingly endless night. I refuse to quit…even in the face of certain failure and eternal pain.

I do not know how my pain compares with others. I can’t say that I really care. If someone is in pain, I wish to ease it and assist in it’s healing dissipation. It doesn’t matter if it’s “worse” or “less” than mine. I, who knows pain, wish you to be free of it. No one deserves it or should be subject to it.

I’ve had my pain dismissed and invalidated my entire life. Just about everyone I know has misunderstood or misinterpreted it. Platitudes and advice invoke frustration and anger. They don’t offer validation and support. I know who I am. I know what I need to do. I will continue to be cantankerous, perhaps annoying and make many mistakes and have many failures. But I trust that “Inner Light,” even when I can’t see it and doubt that it’s there.

I still crave validation and support. Yet I know this is not always available. I don’t know what to say about that. “Suck it up and be strong” never really resonated or worked for me that well. In fact, that kind of perspective is a crock (nonsense / garbage). All I know is that I refuse to quit. I don’t know how my life will end up and I have intense anxiety it will get worst…

…but I still refuse to quit. No matter how things will end up.

I do what I can, as I can, as I’m able. That’s all there is to it all.

Be Well, My Friends


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