I was at a women’s conference a few months ago and it was during that conference that I felt inspired to write Invisible Pain.
I’m new to blogging so I’ve only published 11 blogs so far. Invisible Pain was the first of my blogs that wasn’t funny or light-hearted. It was raw and real and I wasn’t sure how it would be received when I published it. Surprisingly, it’s been my most read and most responded to blog, by far. More people reached out to me about that blog than all my other blogs combined. *I still believe Bee-holes. is some of my best work, but whatever, man!*
I had a lot of internal dialogue before I published I.P. It’s hard to put yourself out there like that even if you’re a communicator with a tendency to overshare. For the most part, I’m an open book, and nothing I’ve been through or done is off limits under the right circumstances, but I value my privacy too. If you and I were sitting down having a conversation and you asked me something really personal, the likelihood that I’d tell you the whole truth even if it was ugly or uncomfortable, is somewhere around 99.99%. That’s just me. I will share just about anything if I think it’s going to help someone. I wasn’t sure how much of myself I wanted to share, or even if I wanted to at all – I’m still not sure. That’s always a tricky one, isn’t it? The more of yourself you share with people, the bigger the risk of being hurt. I take that risk because I feel a push to.
I think the reason I.P. resonated with people is because everyone understands pain to some degree, and most people have their own invisible pain that they aren’t sure they want to put out there either. Once it’s out there’s no putting it back in, and that’s a scary reality we all face. What I’ve realized from people who’ve reached out to me about that blog, is that most people want to talk about their pain, but can’t or don’t. Why? Because they don’t know how. Because they’re afraid that if they do give their feelings a voice, it won’t be received the way they intended it to be received. Maybe they aren’t ready to own their pain because owning it seems more painful than carrying it around. Maybe they think if they just tuck their pains away they’ll eventually stop feeling them. Maybe they’re afraid of losing something or someone. Maybe they’re waiting for a push too – I really don’t know.
What I do know is that nothing changes, if no changes are made. The older I get, the more I realize that holding on to things that aren’t meant for you will always result in pain. Anger, shame, bitterness, resentment, toxic relationships, unforgiveness…whatever the case may be, if it causes you pain, it’s not meant for you. Fix it, or let it go! The longer you hold on to it, the heavier it will become and the more it’s going to hurt when you’re forced to give it up. Holding on to anything that isn’t meant for you, only hurts YOU!
I wrote a blog a few months ago about birthdays, which you can find here. I didn’t want to write it and it took me over two weeks to get it out. I felt that one so deeply that I could only focus on it for small periods of time. It sucked the life out of me to write that blog, but that’s how I feel about all the personal things I share. What happens though, is once I get it out ‘there’ I feel like I’ve been untied from it, and that’s freeing for me. I give my feelings a voice and then I’m able to step back from them, or set them down entirely. They’re still there, but I’m not carrying them around anymore and slowly they hurt less and less.
The day I published the birthday blog was on the actual birthday, and coincidentally, the day my family went out of town for their annual dad/kid trip. At the time I was a few months into a renewed walk with God, and at a stage where all the things that needed attention/fixing in my life were blatant and very much IN MY FACE. I was struggling to process it all and it felt really heavy. I don’t like to sit in my pain any longer than I have to, so if I have a problem, I want to process it as fast as I can and then find a solution – RIGHT NOW! This day was more than I could manage and I was just sort of paralyzed by it; it was too much to process because it all hit me at the same time. It always all hits at the same time, right? I was being shown things I needed to let go of, and other things that I needed to grab hold of and I was resisting it all. I didn’t want to give up control over my life, but I also really did want to. It was a battle I didn’t have the energy for. I thought I had already let go of some of those things, so when they suddenly resurfaced I wanted no part of it. JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!
I was so drained that I spent that entire weekend in bed with my dog, trying to recover, and recharge. I needed time to process and I wanted to be alone so I could sort it all out. I was upset with God because it felt like an attack knowing that he could help me get off the struggle bus, and was seemingly choosing not to. Some of my pains were things I couldn’t resolve so I was depending on Him to help me. I was making an effort to hear Him while simultaneously feeling unheard. I got to the point where I couldn’t distinguish between my own thoughts and His and everything in my head seemed loud and overwhelming. I like to call this “busy brains” which is something I can’t always control and is hard to calm down from.
One of the things I’ve learned about myself in this phase is that I have a tendency toward “fight or flight” mode. I remove myself from things when I feel overwhelmed, and this was one of those times. I just wanted to sit in my pain alone and process all my thoughts without being distracted. I wanted to keep my pain to myself because nothing anyone could do or say was going to change anything, and talking about it would just drain me further. I didn’t want to invite people to be a guest at my pity party, so I disengaged instead.
Then I got this text:
“In the wild, when a mama elephant is giving birth, all the other female elephants in the herd back around her in formation. They close ranks so the delivering mama cannot even be seen in the middle. They stomp and kick up dirt and soil to throw attackers off the scent and basically act like a pack of fierce bodyguards.
They surround the mama and incoming baby in protection, sending a clear signal to predators that if they want to attack their friend while she is vulnerable, they’ll have to get through forty tons of female aggression first.
When the baby elephant is delivered, the sister elephants do two things: they kick sand or dirt over the newborn to protect its fragile skin from the sun, and then they all start trumpeting, a female celebration of new life, of sisterhood, of something beautiful being born in a harsh, wild world despite enemies and attackers and predators and odds.”
“- You are never alone.❤️“
The elephant story was touched on at the women’s conference I attended, and the friend who sent it to me was also there and knew I would ‘get it.’
I’ve been the elephant in the center of the herd for longer than I’ve wanted to be; not because I’m having a baby elephant (I’m lucky if I 💩 regularly) *see, over-sharer* but because I’ve been vulnerable for quite a while. Admittedly, I’ve felt fragile and broken in so many ways the last two years. Some days I accepted my fragile brokenness as an unpleasant phase that I knew I would get through, and other days it felt heavy and like it was never going to end. I didn’t always mind being fragile and broken because I knew that was part of the process, but I wanted to be those things quietly, and by myself. The only way my situation was going to get better was between God and me, and I knew he would help me eventually even though he obviously isn’t hearing me right now!
As I mentioned in I.P. God is still walking me through a lot of my own pains right now. I am not unbroken yet, but I’ve made a ton of progress. As much as I try to move the process along so I can just be done with this phase, the more obvious the realization that this is walk is intended to be a slow one. Until I learn to fully give up control and let things work themselves out how they’re supposed to not necessarily how I want them to, I will remain on the struggle bus. Slow is not my thing. Patience is hard for me. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I asked God to help me get my life back on track, and then found myself forced to deal with the things I had nicely tucked away. As it turns out, God WAS hearing me, he just wasn’t solving my problems for me.
I make sense of that like this: I could solve a lot of my kids’ problems but sometimes I let them struggle through and figure it out on their own. Sometimes I give them advice that they ignore because it’s not what they want to hear; so I let them fail and then the next time they come to me for advice, they’re more likely to trust that I know things that they don’t. I feel their pain, and I hate to see them struggle when I could help them avoid it, but I’d be doing them a disservice if I never let them learn any hard and painful lessons. That’s how I’m viewing this phase of my life, only I’m the struggling kid and God is the one with the answers.
It’s ironic, and also obvious, that God is using me to help other people deal with their pains, while simultaneously forcing me to sit patiently with my own. He’s using me AND helping me heal…..all through my own voice and words. He’s not solving my problems for me, he’s solving them through me. It took me a while to figure that out, but sometimes I learn things about my own pain after I’ve typed it out for ‘YOU.’
I realize now that the reason I’ve been able to make it through my invisible pain so far is because I have a tribe of people who have closed ranks around me. I’ve been surrounded by a bunch of fierce protectors who have chosen to let me just be in the center for however long I need to be, without feeling judgment or guilt. I have a tribe that not only refuses to let me sit in my pain alone but also stomps around beside me and celebrates every tiny ounce of progress I make.
There are no coincidences. People and obstacles are put in our path for a reason. Some will break you, and some will be the glue you needed in order to put your pieces back together. You’ll figure out which ones are which pretty quickly when you go through a hard phase.
God didn’t save me from my pain, but He gave me a tribe of people He knew would help me walk myself slowly out of the center of the herd. He showed me that it’s ok to be vulnerable sometimes. In fact, going through the vulnerable stages is what eventually gives you strength and moves you to the next chapter. Chapter changes are hard and it’s ok not to have all the answers RIGHT NOW. I’ve learned that if I face the hard things He puts in front of me, and do what He’s asking me to do, and own the things he’s asking me to own; I will eventually break free from that particular pain, and I will become a better version of myself because of it. It’s ok to be in the center of the herd for a stage, just don’t let yourself live there for any longer than you have to. I’m getting off the bus this year if it kills me (metaphorically).
You know that saying “find your tribe and love them hard?” That’s really solid advice. I’m forever grateful for my tribe, and I promise when it’s your turn to be in the center of the herd, I’ll be there fiercely protecting you, stomping around over every tiny victory and kicking dirt at anything that’s trying to bring you down.
“- you are never alone ❤️” either.
All the love, T.