How to Be in Pain and Not Fall Apart


There is a fine, fine art to being in pain and not falling apart.
I have had several challenges in the last month. I was facing deadlines,
different areas of my life were flatlining, others were soaring,
it was real.

There are about four things that I have identified that have been
integral to being able to be in pain and not fall apart. They are
faith practices, a community of healing, self care and time.

Faith Practices
What ever your faith practices are, you will have to rely on
them a little more than usual and perhaps get into them a little
more intensely than you normally do. When your spirit is sideways,
and you have been brought to your knees, in many ways faith is all
you have.

Community of Healing
I don’t go to the hardware store for bread, I wouldn’t go to the zoo to
get a loan. I try and go to the proper places for the proper help which
means that try and see out folks who are a little more spiritually advanced
than I am when crisis mode has me against the wall.
I have about six people
who are more spiritually more grounded than
I am who I can reach out to
when I am trying to make sense of something.
This is new for me. I learned
last year that I needed these folks in my life, when I saw a friend who had
his own community of healing and realized that he dealt with things entirely
differently than I did, and he was far more sane and stable.

These six people are comprised of friends and family, others are people
in a self help fellowship
that I am a member of and then there are folks in my faith
community.
In terms of being in pain, the only way through it is through
it
, and I hate it. Not above, under or below, but through. There may be
moments where you feel like you are falling apart,
and that is okay, it is
a part of the process.

Just like my dear friend and colleague Tracey Rose mentioned
to me today, “You have to sit with the feelings because as long
as you fight them,
they continue to get stronger.” I was floored.
I looked at the phone, like, she crazy. However, I didn’t disagree,
I listened and it helped.
I sat with them, listened to some Al Green
and some new Kanye, it was uncomfortable, but ultimatly I felt transformed.

Self Care
Self care entails doing kind things for yourself. This may be watching
The Cowboys, making cinnamon rolls or going to the movies. There is also
an element of not beating up on yourself when things don’t go the way
you expected them. In many ways there is a kind of grace to it. For
me the ultimate self care is a pedicure and brunch, but with the economy
being what it is, the $30 spent on a pedicure and fancy eggs and toast
can used on a cell phone bill, a metro card, or my perpetual
library fines
. The general idea is that you take some time to be kind to
yourself.

Time
Being in pain and getting through it takes time. Giving that the holidays
are upon us, being around family can be both comforting and amazing,
however it can trigger old wounds. Getting through the pain takes time
and in many ways, being around family shows us that if we don’t deal
with it, it will be sitting there waiting for us, whether we like it or not,
year after year. The notion that all this takes time is arguably, one
of the most challending for me to deal with, and perhaps for you as
well. For me it entails accepting that I only have control over myself,
my actions, my thoughts. While I may want things to happen in the
time that I want them to, I simply can’t make them. Thats a fact of life.
So I struggle. I struggle with sitting with it, getting the work done that
needs to be done, and I am so grateful for when the pain is lessened
a bit. When that happends, it feels like a boot has been removed
from my throat, and
dios mio am I grateful.

I hope that these help you. I’d like to hear what you think
about my suggestions.

How do you cope with pain?
The big three, alcohol, sex, rage?
Do you shut down?
If you have tools, who taught you?

Biany, Joseph, Marquette, Matthew, Pathanapong,
Raquel,
Salina, Tracey, thank you for inspiring me to write this.

Comments

  1. Its usually not the situaiton that trouble me, its the feelings they cause. Most of the time logically, the situation isnt that serious to me, like in my head im like “whatever”. But my heart usually deals with it another way, and I get that shitty sinking feeling in my solar plexus.

    I usually dont do a damn thing and just chill and wait for the storm to pass. Oh I tend to sleep it off. I sleep everything off. Ive learned thats the best way for me. I just waste away until the feeling is gone. whatever it is, doesnt usually last long, cause I always feel like whatever it is, could be worse. Its all mental, but its a hard thing to have complete control of your mind at all times.

    It would be great to have the power to do so.

    Maybe I should be come a monk…

  2. Model Minority says:

    It would be great to have the power to do so.

    Maybe I should be come a monk…
    =======

    Something to be said for being centered like a monk.

  3. I am learning more and more that the best way to cope with pain (for me) is my yoga practice (which includes my faith), community, and the willingness to be vulnerable and fearless (to me this happens simultaneously). These components have taught me to confront my feelings head on. I am grateful for this essay because I think there are some more tools that I can utilize to help me cope with pain.

    A few weeks ago, i read the alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It really touched me in more ways than I expected. One quote in particular: “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worst than the suffering itself.” I am learning that we get so caught up in our fears that the process of healing or facing what we fear is actually not as harmful or hurtful as we imagined (or expected it to be). One of my friends told me that we must starve our fears. And I agree with T.Rose, if you don’t sit with those feelings you just continue to feed your fears.

    I love and admire you, M!!
    I am soo proud of you!! Your courage moves me!! =)
    BianyP

  4. Model Minority says:

    Gurl,

    Are you trying to make me cry, dios mio?

    I mean, its been a real few months, you know?

    Guess what? Im bout to sit with something right now before I get in the shower and get out the door looking fly like July ’65.

    I am grateful for this essay because I think there are some more tools that I can utilize to help me cope with pain.
    =======
    Thats the goal love.

    willingness to be vulnerable and fearless
    =====
    Sign me up for that package NOW…Wait…in ’09….

  5. Thats the goal, love to make you cry!! LIke my yoga practice has been making me. LOL!!

    Go ‘head!!

    =)

  6. Great, helpful post! I have yet to find useful advisors and am glad you have a set to draw from.
    My self-care rituals tend to spiral into overeating and overspending, so I am still working on that.
    The most important thing is to acknowledge that something is happening and going through it is the only way to the other side.

  7. Model Minority says:

    Toni,

    Thank you for commenting. I am glad you found
    it helpful.

    overeating and overspending,
    =========

    Currently, my thing is to NOT eat.

    All bad. At a buck 20, I can’t really afford to not eat. LOLs.

    Overspending, did that ish in 06. All bad too.

    That being said, get that adviser network on.

    It will do you good.

    Be well love.

    ~m.

  8. Mr. Proctor says:

    M Dot

    Your posts are always so timely. Getting through pain for me means immersing myself even more-so in work. That means getting to work at 6:30am and leaving work at 8:00 PM. If I’m at home, I’m sleep. I tend to shut myself off from people, which makes the pain even difficult to deal with. Your ways of coping, I will most certainly try. One thing I have learned is that no matter how much I hurt, no matter how much pain i’m in, life still goes on, so I have to keep it moving.

  9. Model Minority says:

    Hello Mr. Proctor,

    Thank you for sharing.

    One thing I have learned is that no matter how much I hurt, no matter how much pain i’m in, life still goes on, so I have to keep it moving.
    ======
    Yes. But the pain will be there IF it ain’t dealt with.

    Its like the feelings are a kid you gotta feed or he/she gonna keep whining until you do.

    Last night, I had a hard one, I mean, one where I felt like I lost someone, and I was suppose to go out with friends. Instead of leaving, I was like, I gotta sit here with this before I go, IF at all, because I ain’t gonna be no good to nobody in this state. I HAVE NEVER been able to do that. I sat with it, and it got worse before it got better, but NOW at least I know of a way to go about it.

  10. pathanapong says:

    first off, thank you for writing this M.Dot. “things fall apart” has been my theme this past year. even though i’m breaking the cycle of silence and violence in my fam, i struggled with vulnerability and being in pain, feelin ashame of my tears. and movin back home only exacerbated old wounds. my defense mechanism growing up in a verbally/physically abusive environment is to shut down. like how you gonna hurt me, i feel nuthin.

    for me, fallin apart is usually when i neglect to take care of myself and pay attention to my emotions, like recognizing when i need to cry. fortunately, i do know a few folks that i can lean on and folks that are more mature and can provide guidance. one of those folks introduced me to a book that changed my life: Acts of Faith: Daily Meditations for People of Color by Iyanla Vanzant. it’s helpin me to live a healthier and happier life. now i work on not questioning anything that happens but finding the lessons in everything. just being present and being okay with it. as they say, the universe unfolds as it should.

  11. Perfect Storm says:

    Omigosh!!! You are SOOOO on the money with this post!

    After going through some difficult things, the epiphany for me was exactly what you wrote:

    “In terms of being in pain, the only way through it is through it, and I hate it.”

    I STILL hate it, but I have accepted it. When I’m going through it, I used to stay really busy, which was not hard to do, but the feelings were so much more amplified when I finally had free time.

    So instead, I try to deal with it little by little. Easier to digest.

    I need to get on board with the community of healing. Sometimes sistas feel the need to act like we are so in control. Psyche!!!!!!!!!!

    Relax, relate, release…Relax, relate, release…

  12. Model Minority says:

    just being present and being okay with it. as they say, the universe unfolds as it should.
    =======
    You have no idea.

    i struggled with vulnerability and being in pain, feelin ashame of my tears. and movin back home only exacerbated old wounds.
    =========
    Salute for being such a courageous bear.

  13. Changeseeker says:

    While I have used faith practices (eclectic, but they work for me), a healing community (ever in a state of shift, as healers come and go), and have lived long enough to be very clear about the value of time, I invariably have to be reminded (as in writing on the wall sometimes) that I must, must, must be kind to myself. When my “downtime” begins to consist of a few minutes playing a video game, I’m headed for Attitude-land. A commentator on my blog last week suggested I was sounding exhausted (they were right — and not just physically). I listened and let the Universe cuddle me the last several days. I’m feeling better and expect to be much more effective now in doing my work and much less likely to “accidentally” do some kind of damage to myself or someone else.

  14. Model Minority says:

    When my “downtime” begins to consist of a few minutes playing a video game, I’m headed for Attitude-land
    =========

    HA. Thats the realness.

    Its good to hear you around these parts.

    I hope all is well.

  15. Changeseeker says:

    All is well in my tiny corner of the world, if you more or less disregard all the weird and crappy stuff that keeps happening to other people all over the place. (*shakes head*)

    I’ve been riding herd on a little cadre of social misfits (*giggle*) at my school and they’re kind of labor intensive. But I try to make my rounds at least every once in a while. And it’s always a pleasure to see what you’re up to…

  16. The Minority Reporter says:

    Girl I love you and this post is one of the confirmations that I need of you in my life.

    Talk to you soon.

    Love always,

    Me

  17. Model Minority says:

    Hey.

    Thank you.

    I love you too.

    Muah.

    -r

  18. I’m getting caught up on some of your blogs, but I particularly loved this one! Great advice!

  19. Model Minority says:

    Hi Brooke,

    It was great to meet you on Wednesday.

    I am glad you liked the piece.

    Came from my heart.

    -m.

  20. You’ve pretty much summarised basically everything I think we’ve been able to discuss in our private convos at diff times. Nothing left for me to add.

    Hope you’re doing well..