Owning Pain

My hope-speaking counselor was at it again this week. Pushing, stripping, freeing.

He does not speak counselor talk. He speaks grace, and he curses. I like him.


For years, I have been told I didn’t feel enough. And that embracing my feelings was the way to health. Oddly, I didn’t think I wasn’t feeling before. I felt deeply. Often feelings swelled to the very top of me and had only paper to spill onto. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t feel enough. So how was I not doing it right? One word broke my spiral of self-defeat.


“It sounds like you think your feelings are inconsequential,” said my hope-speaking counselor.

Well, yeah. That’s what I’ve been learning for forty-one thirty-four years. Feel deeply, I hear. But who is there to care about what I’m feeling? Too much life has been sucked from me trying to convince people to care about what makes me most me.

Like the time I called across an ocean weeping so hard I could barely speak. “You need to find someone else,” said the friend who had promised to walk through the ugly with me.

Like the time trauma paralyzed me, and I begged for relief. “Why does it bother you so much when you were complicit?” was the response.

Like the time I begged God to comfort me in the darkness and I heard only silence.

Those feelings labeled health. . . my heart yells at me that they are inconsequential. The line becomes so fuzzy it vanishes. Survival takes over for hope.

The hope-speaking counselor asks about places that hurt. I share with honest words. And then he calls my bluff.

“You have a qualifier every time you share what you’re feeling.” The spotlight on my heart glows bright. I feel its heat bearing down.

He is right. I am completely exposed. I do feel deeply, and then I convince myself it’s inconsequential. I preach to myself what those wounds only hinted.

My qualifiers pass the buck. But my pain is my pain. People hurt me. My fear is real. It grips me to the point I can hardly breathe. I get angry, and I want to curse. Ok, so I do curse.

My hope-speaking counselor tells me I can feel, and it won’t kill me. I think he is crazy. When I felt deeply before, the hopelessness overwhelmed me. The pit sucked me in.

Or did it?

It’s odd the freedom that filled my heart when he invited me to feel without qualifiers. Maybe freedom lies not on the side of passing the buck. Maybe my attempts to survive are what is killing me.

2 thoughts on “Owning Pain

  1. “Maybe my attempts to survive are what is killing me.”

    Profound yet deeply true, at least it was and still is sometimes true for me. Jesus put it differently but said something very similar: (Matthew 16:25) “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

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