At the ripe young age of 26, I have developed a plethora of strategies anchored by avoiding pain. Yes, the physical kind, but my expertise is moreso centered around the emotional.
I know how to protect my vessel, keep my bones intact and my flesh unbruised. Likewise, I am familiar with heartbreak and therefore am committed to avoiding it at all costs.
There’s this thing manifesters tell you — what you obsess over so you will create. I’ve developed a personal stand-up routine around how that only ever seems to work for me in the negative. I can survive off of love-and- light for months and see no ROI, but one bad week reaps a harvest of misery.
It’s something I’d like to avoid because of how often I have to interact with it. My Dad used to call this sensitive.
“You have to learn how to have tough skin,” he’d say.
I learned to resent myself for my tenderness, for my vulnerability, for my emotional naïveté. For so long I thought it was because being unbothered is just so cool.
In the short, I’ve learned it’s because sensitivities produce irritants that are painful. Irritants I’d like to avoid.
A few days ago, as the remnants of a past heartbreak were made fresh by an off-hand interaction and creeped their way back up and I allowed myself to sit in that pain, I had a realization. I realized that while uncomfortable, this pain was a sign that I still even had the capacity to love. I was not jaded or left bitter.
I used to think that people with tough skin were so strong. And they are.
I’m thinking now that people who can walk through their pain with the brazen courage and tender vulnerability are strong too. And this is also true.
Strength comes in different shapes and sizes. It comes in the capacity to power through even as your heart breaks into pieces, and the ability to sit and feel and lick your wounds.
And pain? Maybe it’s just an indicator that everything still works. To feel is to live and who wants to be the walking dead anyway?