I’ve borrowed the title for this blog post from my not-so-secret crush, Jim Cuddy. I was listening to “Banks of the 49” the other day and, while I know the song by heart, it struck me that these three words are something that I have been doing a lot of lately. (I tried to find a link from YouTube to share of the song, but unfortunately there wasn’t one available. If you have the chance to hear the song, please listen to it! One of things that I respect most about Jim is his understanding of human emotion and his unique perspective on it.)
So far 2015 has felt like one constant drama after another. There have been a number of things which have happened which have made me question the ‘goodness’ in people, but more importantly I have also had to question my own responses to many of these incidents.
I had hoped as I grew older that I would toughen up a bit and not take things so personally. My dad once told me I had to grow “thicker skin” in dealing with certain people in my life and I agreed with him because he was, and still is, right. All too often I let ‘people’ affect me more than they should. I’m not sure if I have been successful at all at doing that, however. Some days I think maybe I’m fighting a losing battle because maybe I am not meant to be a “thick-skinned” person.
I’ve always been “sensitive”, which continuously made me vulnerable and easily hurt I suppose. I would take most things to heart, even if they weren’t intended to directly hurt me. It’s not that I always try to make things “about me”, but more that I am very sensitive to how others are feeling as well.
As I was listening to Jim’s velvety voice (yes, it does sound like velvet), I realized with a start that practicing my pain is exactly what I have been doing… for the past six months.
Just over six months ago, I was involved in a very hurtful conversation in which words were thrown like daggers to my heart. I was shaken to my core at the individual’s true feelings which were clearly expressed. Later those words were taken back and apologized for, but the hurt couldn’t be erased. Still the hurt remained and still remains.
There were multiple factors which contributed to the pain caused that day: stress, disappointment about other events, even miscommunication. None of that erases the hurt, even if it may help to explain it.
After several months, I finally concluded that I was disliked, and probably never had been liked in the first place. This conclusion, however accurate or inaccurate, hurt immensely.
I vowed to forgive and tried to forget. I am still trying to in fact. I find myself lamenting about the incident though, reliving each moment and hurtful word. There were (are) nights that I still lie in bed and relive the conversation over and over.
Jim’s words helped me to realize that this reliving is a continuous practice of the pain which I felt that day. The more I lamented about it, the more I practiced feeling the pain over and over. I was perfectly practicing the pain and in practicing it repeatedly and to perfection I wasn’t allowing myself to heal from it either. Practicing became like a bad habit, especially when I was feeling down about other things. If something else hurt my feelings, I remembered how hurt I was about this particular incident and the practice regime intensified and continued.
Practice is often good, but over practice can hurt also especially when it prevents us from moving on to focus on other areas or to distributing our time and energy to other areas of our life.
My Christian beliefs guide me to forgive others, especially when they have asked for my forgiveness. God has granted me a thinking mind though, and I also realize that I should learn from these incidents as well to protect myself in the future.
But if I continue to practice my pain, am I truly forgiving the individual who asked for my forgiveness?
My heart tells me no, that I’m not. I also realize though that I may have needed this time, this amount of practice, to process it all and to begin to think about healing. Quite honestly, I’d really like to quit practicing and start living pain free again. I hope and pray that I have the inner strength to make this possible.
Forgiveness takes time. Healing takes time. And maybe practicing our pain allows us to take that time, to nurture ourselves, to lick our own wounds, and to begin to stand upright and confident again.