Why Bother Sharing the Pain?

Why Bother Sharing the Pain?

A tragedy can either draw people together or it can alienate us from one another.  Our family’s tragedy, unfortunately, cut us off from each other for years. One of my sisters used the phrase, ‘silo mentality,’ a business term, that described our family after our dad’s suicide. We kept our pain to ourselves, either unable and or unwilling to share our grief process. 

        Silos

Silos are structures in which farmers store grain. Growing up in Nebraska and South Dakota, these buildings were familiar to me because they dotted the landscape. I’d often spy those structures standing alone on farmlands and they stirred up feelings of loneliness inside me. It never occurred to me that one day I’d be compared to one. Yet, the description of a silo that my sister used for our family was an accurate one.  

Though we still had a mother, she was suddenly a widow with four children still at home and seven children in need of emotional support. The load overwhelmed her and though she did the best she could, she secluded herself much of the time in her bedroom at the end of the hallway. 

We were indeed left to ourselves to process our feelings in privacy, and in isolation. Speaking from my own experience, coming to terms with our family’s calamity and moving forward in life was an arduous and unglamours undertaking. I had to untangle the anger, blame, resentment, and shame which could have literally taken my life. And that is just a glimpse of my journey. My siblings had their own as well.

But, there is one trait that all seven of us have in common and that is to survive. In spite of the shipwreck we experienced early on in our lives, none of us drowned. Instead, we all lived to talk about it, finally with each other. 

Now that all of us are mature adults, the catastrophe from the days of our youth no longer keeps us apart. Instead, it brings us together. Our bimonthly conference calls that one of my sisters has dubbed, Macek Maverick Calls, gives us a venue for remembering and sharing our individual stories of survival. Once we were silos, now we are a family putting our broken pieces together to make a whole picture. 

Why bother sharing the pain? Though our pain may isolate us for a while, it does not have to isolate us forever.

Why Bother To Learn From Pain?

Why Bother to Learn From Pain?

One of the duties of my job as a public school teacher is knowing how to apply Band-aids. A scuffed knee, a finger cut, or road rash on the palm of a student’s hand requires me to stop and listen as they “show and tell”  how the injury happened. Then I apply a Band-aid and they go on their merry way, unless it is more serious. 

The more serious injuries such as a blood soaked pant leg, a swollen lip with snot and tears pooling just above it, or a body held up between two helpful friends, are the ones I point toward the office. Then, the secretary who has a bigger first aid kit than mine, will clean the wound with an antiseptic wipe, apply antibiotic ointment, gauze and pads. The child may even get to sit in the office with an ice pack on their wound, and miss a spelling or math test.

Important Lessons

Yet, as much as I hate to see anyone get injured, it is the rough and tumbles, the bumps and bruises, cuts and scrapes that children learn  important life lessons; it hurts to fall. 

But it’s not only the physical abrasions that hurt, the emotional ones do too. Since I cannot be everywhere at once, I do not hear the little whispers exchanged in the hallway or rude comments dropped on a student as someone walks by their desk. I do get the after effect of those hurtful words that are said to someone.  “Nobody likes me.” “He just called me a bad name.” “She just said that I was dumb.”  

As much as I don’t like anyone to be unkind, rude words are spoken. But life lessons are learned with them too. Not everyone is kind, not everyone is fair and not everyone can be trusted.  

Whether old, young, or somewhere in the middle, feeling physical or emotional pain alerts us to the fact that something is not right, that something needs attending to and help is needed. 

Since I’m the teacher, my students trust that I will help them or find someone who can. They know that they can count on me for help. When they say, “ouch,” I am alerted. 

How awful it would be for anyone to not feel pain. If you don’t know when you are injured, if no one hears you say, “ouch,” then how can anyone help you tend to the hurt?

Lacking an awareness of pain would only lead to a worsening condition, an accumulation of wounds and woundings. Repeated injuries, whether physical or emotional, if left unattended, or ignored, become far worse than initially acknowledging the distress and asking for help.  

So why bother to learn from pain? It’s life’s bruises and strains that alert us to lots of  lessons; it hurts when we fall, life is not fair, not everybody likes me, and not everyone is trustworthy. But it is worth it to know when you hurt so that you can ask somebody for a Band-aid when you need one.