Pain. No one I know likes the word, I know I don’t.
A few years ago, my youngest son and I were watching an anime series titled Naruto Shippuden. If you’re not familiar with it, regardless of your age, I highly recommend watching or reading the series. One of the mini plots centered around 3 friends who as young children lost their parents in one of many wars, endured horrific childhood trauma and emotional pain that some never know their entire lives. As adults, they’re determined to end the world and at first seem evil and malicious. That is until the story unfolds and the truth is told, they simply want the pain to stop. In their opinion ending the world means ending the pain. One of them is even named Pain:
As I sat watching their story unfold, tears fell many times. My heart hurt for them, their innocence lost as children, their loss of faith in humanity, and so many more details which I won’t go into here. There are blogs about Naruto and the show itself is worth your time.
What I’m diving into here may take some time to unfold. I’d like to start at the beginning and have this nice, neat, orderly blog that’s chronological, logical, and perfectly sequential: each post building on the previous. However, anyone who’s lived longer than a couple of decades knows that’s not real life. Oh, it’s chronological all right, but the rest – HA! (Fighting the battle to keep life logical and rational and in sequential steps is a subject for another category on another day.)
So here we go. Yesterday I was thinking about what I wanted to say to my youngest son. The emotional trauma he has suffered in life, has led him to make the decision to numb his pain with weed. If I’m to be honest and forthcoming, a pretty large chunk of that was due to decisions I made and things I did and did not do as his mom. (We’re going to take a side bar here and get one thing perfectly straight: I LOVE MY 2 SONS WITH MY ENTIRE HEART AND SOUL!) In thinking about the pain my youngest son has endured, about my role in it, about his decisions for numbing it, I decided what I wanted to say to him was, “I love you and with all the pain you went through I don’t blame you for wanting to numb it, for smoking and I don’t hold it against you.” So that is what I said to him.
The thoughts continued about the pain I caused my youngest son. This isn’t to say that I did not cause my oldest son pain, but today I was specifically thinking about my youngest. The thoughts of how he’s used weed to numb the pain of what he’s endured ran around in my mind. I remembered missing his 5th grade Christmas program at school and the heart wrenching, gut wrenching pain it caused me and the over 3 liters of margaritas I drank that night to numb the pain. How it must have hurt him all those years ago. How can I condemn him for numbing the pain I caused him? I’m not talking about normal childhood pain, I’m talking about abandonment, neglect, and enmeshment, codependency… you know the ugly stuff no one wants to talk about. I’m talking about a mom who left her 10 and 14 year old sons with their dad so that he’d step up and be a dad. (No, I am not going into that now. I’ll dissect that another day.) Yes, I came back exactly 2 years later to the day, but the damage was done.
I thought about my pain as a child of an abusive, often raging violent alcoholic dad and my mom who did nothing but witness the abuse. This is when the light dawned, my worst pain that which wrenched my heart, my mind, and my gut was for the pain I’ve caused my sons. This is the worst: hurting people you love and realizing it. All I endured from my dad (and mom by default) humiliation, degrading names, yelling and screaming at me, his beatings… none of that compares to the agony of hurting my 2 sons. It doesn’t come anywhere close.
So why put all this out here? Because I believe as a society we’re going down a slippery slope attempting to numb pain instead of navigate pain. When I numb pain, I’m not treating the wound and the pain comes back if nothing heals. When I navigate pain, I treat the wound and it hurts, BUT IT BEGINS TO HEAL.
NO. It is not easy, but I have to decide do I want to numb my wound(s) and never treat them? Or, do I want to treat my wounds and eventually heal?