Sometimes I wonder what I’d be like if I’d never had the pain. I try to imagine a time before the pain, but there isn’t one.
My very genesis was a combination of indiscriminate indiscretion and hurt multiplied. No doubt my mother’s mother was disappointed to find the last of her three girls pregnant in high school — a hat trick of teen moms under one roof. My father’s mother took it the hardest. A brimstone Baptist raised in the shadow of uncompromising women, she cast her only child out rather than accept his lapse in judgement and the country girl who’s scarlet shame grew in her belly. My grandfather used every minute of those nine months to cool the fire, or at least admit that she didn’t want to not know her first grandchild.
So from my first breath there was pain and anger and the bitterness of dreams withering on the vine. I had no hope of a clean slate. For the longest time, I bore the blows believing it was my penance for existing. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know I was an unhappy mistake. That I was the reason neither of my parents went to college. That I was the reason we were so poor. That I was the reason why my mother’s thighs jiggled. It was all my fault.
What I have come to learn is that none of it is my fault. And while it’s easy to write that sentence, making that discovery was nothing short of finding my own personal Holy Grail, complete with trials, false prophets, and booby traps.
The short of it is that pain does not have your name on it. It is not your destiny. Pain is like the static electricity created from running socks on carpet. It will stay there until it finds a ground — a doorknob, a light switch, or the next person who happens by. The jolt of electricity. The jolt of pain.
Knowing this helps in the same way finding a piece of map is helpful when you’re lost. You have to be able to see it — paper in the dark is useless. You have to be able to read it — understand the symbols. It has to be the right bit at the right time. It’s of no use if it only shows you where you’ve been. Even worse if it shows a place you haven’t and you don’t know how to find your way onto the map. Being prepared is nothing when it’s mis-timed.
Simpler yet: timing is everything.
So that is the question. Is the time right? How will I know when I get there? Where is there, anyway? To paraphrase Glenda the Good Witch, you have everything you need already inside you. That is my personal motto and it has carried me from hell and back.
Simpler still: You’ve got this.