Know What Hurts and Stop the Pain

change_edited-1One of my favorite Melody Beattie lines is that when you are recovering, it’s important to know what hurts and learn to stop the pain.

When my kids were going into high school they had to have immunizations. They are all needle phobic but my middle son Michael, the toughest one in the bunch, was ridiculous about it. He was a big tough guy that no one ever messed with but he turned into a bubbling little boy when a needle shows up near him.

The nurse came in with a gigantic needle and I watched his eyes grow wide like saucers. She marched over to him and jabbed him in the arm with the needle. He yelped, “GET IT OUT! GET IT OUT!” She turned to me and told me to tell him to stop it. I had to stifle a laugh and refused. She was angry.

Too damn bad.

When I was a kid I could have had my arm chopped off and I wouldn’t have said a word. Not only would I be punished for complaining but due to abuse I had learned to ignore pain as best I could. I had NO response to physical, mental or emotional pain. That was normal life. And to complain about anything would be to be lectured about how ungrateful I was.

I taught my kids to let people know what hurt and to stop the pain. I’m not talking about annoyances or chores or life on life’s terms, but over the top, not run of the mill, pain. You can complain if it hurts. YOU SHOULD COMPLAIN IF IT HURTS.

It’s not supposed to hurt. And if it is supposed to hurt (like needles in the arm), you have every right to yowl.

Yes Michael was a big baby and we teased him about it and made references to “Michael gets a needle” reactions, but he never apologized or thought less of himself for being a big baby.

Life hurts sometimes and it’s okay to kvetch and complain sometimes. Sometimes whining doesn’t make you feel better and sometimes it does. There is a difference between being a big, whiny baby and legitimately expressing pain.

My labor with my middle son was 42 hours long. It was torture and horrible. I never said a peep. Honestly. I had not yet gotten to the place in my life where I knew it was okay to say, in the 41st hour of back-breaking labor, “OW.” I was a trouper. A very dysfunctional trouper. A completely out of touch with my own pain trouper. When my sweet, personable and lovely daughter in law was in labor, she not only yowled but let out a string of obscenities my son had never heard her use. She knows it’s okay to express pain. Imagine that.

If you don’t move even when hit with a board, you’re going to get hit with a lot of boards. Worse yet, if you blame yourself for being hit with a board, you’re going to be hit with even more boards.

It’s important to learn what hurts and stop the pain. A relationship should be a source of love and support. Everyone makes mistakes but the majority of the time a relationship should make you feel loved and respected. And if something hurts, object to it and if it doesn’t stop, you need to evaluate it. And leave if it doesn’t change.

Life hurts sometimes. Love should not hurt most of the time. If it hurts too much too often, it’s not love.

Learn to listen to your inner “Michael gets a needle” and insist that it not happen except when it’s unavoidable.

Learn to say ouch and learn to move away. Learn to surround yourself with those who will love you and cherish your presence in their lives.


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3 Responses to Know What Hurts and Stop the Pain

  1. mchinela says:

    I love this…the BH relationship was my only second relationship and my first one as an adult , so I didnt know better and man -oh -man.. I KNEW something never felt right but i NEVER acted on it and it hurt more then it felt good but I thought I had clocked in so many hours , I had stacked up lots of money on my investment but that investment was a ponzi scheme and now I know when it hurts , im out the door so quick you wont be able to catch me if you tried… love doesnt hurt.. stuff will happen but it doesnt make you cry or physically sick and depressed….

    • Susan J. Elliott Susan J. Elliott says:

      Excellent points…Nor does it mean to have anxiety attacks…I had constant anxiety attacks with my first husband. He was such a maniac about cleaning that I would listen for his footsteps and jump up when I heard them and CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN. Had I been sitting down when he came in, all hell would have broken loose. So I acted as if I was busy cleaning all along. The house was SPOTLESS before I jumped up. I spent my two days off taking care of 3 little kids and cleaning like a maniac. As I say in GPYB, if I took the kids to the park, he yelled that I didn’t clean. If I cleaned, he would yell that I didn’t take the kids out. So I got up the minute he left the house at 6:00 am and would run around and deep clean (including things like washing windows and polishing brass) and then when the boys got up, I gave them breakfast and took them out. I shopped and came home and fed them lunch and cleaned like a maniac. I also took care of the dogs and the cats and did laundry…TONS of laundry. It was RIDICULOUS and I received no credit for the work I did. He would look for things that were wrong and pounce on them and me. So before he came in, I would have heart palpitations and break out in a cold sweat. It was a horrible way to live and no one should live that way.

      Love doesn’t make you frantically run around not being human. My therapist told me I was a human BEING and not a human DOING. I was so relieved to hear that. I worked 50-60 hours a week and did all the cleaning, cooking, shopping and taking care of kids and pets.

      After I figured out how insane that was, I was able to calm down and enjoy my kids. My house was clean and things were done but no one was screaming at me for the dust bunny in the corner of the furnace room. I was living a life and being, not doing.

      • mchinela says:

        My BH would always rag on me as we’ll for cleanliness and how I didn’t cook for him , he always made fun of my lack of domestic skills even though I work hard , am educated , and volunteer to help others , I still always wasn’t good enough …. He always blew up over stupidity and always created fights with me . He would turn really heartless from zero to sixty ….. I remember one time when I found dirt on his computer I had an anxiety attack I don’t ever want to remember how that felt — probably th same pain I would feel if my mom or dad or brother ever were to pass , it was like knives going in m heart and he didn’t even blink … I normalized this behavior … I always knew I wanted support in whatever way that would be and that he didn’t give it to me ……. That was never love it was my warped perception of love

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