It’s an awful truth that suffering can deepen us, give a greater lustre to our colours, a richer resonance to our words. That is, if it doesn’t destroy us, if it doesn’t burn away the optimism and the spirit, the capacity for visions, and the respect for simple yet indispensable things.
Anne Rice, “The Queen of the Damned”
They say (and yes, it is the same ‘they’ as in ‘everybody knows’) that what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger. In my psychology lectures I was taught that this is actually not the case at all – that which does not kill us (but gets pretty close to the mark), will leave us scarred. Some wounds are insignificant, others can take years or decades to heal, provided they are not experimentally ripped open over and over again – that bit I know far too well. “Does it hurt if I unravel the scenario in my mind like this? How about now? Ooh, yep, I could definitely feel that one!” What can I say – I love the scientific method.
I think it is somehow written into my national narrative that suffering will make you more noble, in a way. For roughly a thousand years we’ve always been the underdog, except for about half a century and even that little period of freedom was violently chopped into two bits. All of this has left a very strong imprint in our collective unconscious as a people, and that in turn has greatly influenced the way I see the world. If you want something done right, do it yourself because nobody else will do it for you. Trust nobody who has not proven their loyalty to you many times and even then you retain the right to remain suspicious of their motives. Be flexible like a willow tree – it can be bent in many ways but it is really difficult to break, and it will easily spring back to its former shape as if nothing happened.
Yeah. Even one of our (if not the) most famous literary quotes goes: “Do your work and toil; and then love will arrive.” This sets a very hard prerequisite: if you do not suffer at least a little bit first, you have no right to accept the reward. On the one hand it means that you should not turn back as soon as you see an obstacle on your way but should instead try to find a way around it; on the other hand it seems to suggest that you need to grit your teeth and bear it, come what may – in the end you will be thankful whether you like it or not!
So, here’s the ever-intriguing question on the subject: where can we draw that goddamn line of sanity?
Being somewhat of the emo persuasion (yes, I know what my username sounds like, thankyouverymuch) I sometimes tend to engage in the aforementioned wound prodding, perhaps even a bit too enthusiastically. Then again I completely agree with the quote above in the way that light and shadows are intertwined – you cannot have one without the other. People tend appreciate what they have a lot more when they have [almost] lost it; what they have achieved by fighting for what they believe in is always worth more than the stuff that they almost accidentally tripped over.
If you could line plot a person’s emotional ups and downs on paper, many people would be happy with a slightly wobbly result and that is perfectly okay. I am not of that kind, however, for me it should be a sine wave the size of a roller-coaster – that is the time when I feel truly alive. Trouble is, sometimes the decline is so abrupt that it is very difficult to spot any way up again… The ones who prefer to keep to their wobbling are definitely more at peace with themselves, it seems to me, and sometimes I secretly envy them. But not for long.
When I am overwhelmed by sorrow, I try to break it into small, manageable, bite-sized pieces that I can tackle one by one. All large things consist of little ones which, put together, form a whole and it would be insane to try and handle it all at once. I am used to analysing my thought processes and I already know the triggers which make me act irrationally (which does not mean that I can always handle them but at least I know to watch out for them). I can’t simply let things be – I need to understand myself and others to be able to make any sense of it all. This includes going through painful subjects over and over again in my mind until I have got the hurt out of my system and only facts remain. To some it may seem like pointless self-torture if you could just pack that kind of thoughts away in the back of your brain and after that let sleeping dogs lie but that is just how I roll. I have tried the .zip format of thoughts in the past and while it did work for me for a while, there’s only so much room in the attic, so to speak.
In short: getting hurt sucks but, sadly, life would not be half as interesting without it 😐 I just wish I had more of the uphill regions these days, seeing as I keep travelling on my sine wave. I have no idea how deep the rabbit hole goes.