What do you do with your pain? I don’t mean when you stub your toe or even when you might have some ailment that wracks your whole body. No, I’m talking about psychological pain — pain in your soul.
Do you lash out? Do you yell, throw things, break things? Do you fold up in the corner, making yourself as small as possible? Do you eat compulsively? Drink compulsively? Take drugs to numb the pain, so you don’t feel it quite so much? Do you go to bed and stay there, under the covers, until you can gather the strength to get up and pretend it doesn’t hurt so much?
Maybe you are able to sit quietly, maybe even outdoors, and let the pain go. Or maybe you bury it inside, cramming it down, holding onto it until you can’t anymore. If you are lucky, perhaps there is someone who will hold you, to absorb your pain and replace it with their love.
What if your whole life you are told you are worthless, that you are Other, that you are Less Than — told by those around you or by your community or by your world. What about then? Do you internalize it and agree with them? Do you find solace somewhere? Do you rise up and demand to be recognized? Do you reach out?
There is so much pain now. Much of it is age-old and only now has built up, once again, to a point where it is visible.
I grew up in one of the few — the very few — mixed-race neighborhoods in Detroit. I had gone away to college and my family had sold their house by the time of the riots in the 1960s. Some things changed after them, but very few, and it all slid back. Will this time be different?
There are those who thrive on disorder. They see rips in the social fabric as opportunities to further their own, selfish agenda. We are already seeing it in this time. There is evidence of groups encouraging violence, to change protests to riots, so that martial law will be established and the oppressed can be put back in their place. Some of these groups are supported from competitors overseas, but there is homegrown support, too. I’ve already seen posts on Facebook about paid, professional protesters, the posts attempting to devalue the pain.
I had a lesson in the importance of leadership when I was in the Army. My first year at my station in Germany, our battalion was rated one of the highest in Europe. We got awards. The next year, we were rated the lowest. What changed? People had been rotated in and rotated out, but many were the same. The big change was that we had a different commanding officer and different executive officer. A few months later, the CO was transferred out overnight. The division leadership recognized the problem. After that, our battalion did all right, but the damage had been done. I don’t know if it ever recovered its previous status.
Our own leader now cowers behind his armed guards and stokes the flames, dealing with his own pain by inflicting it on others, thinking he can benefit from the chaos.
What do you do with all the pain?