Once upon a time, I was a girl who walked free of stress, pain, trauma. I was free in every sense of the word. I loved reading, and Disney princesses, and Barbies, and I had no burdens. However, life – as it is wont to do – started to happen to me. Life started off giving me small and manageable stresses, shaped like lumps of coal and easy enough to carry with me. Other people saw them, but they saw me coping with me. As I got older, and life became a little more difficult, and strange, unspeakable things happened to me, these small burdens became a great weight that I had to carry on my back. Other people seemed to still be skipping around, dealing with their stresses easily, and this made me very unhappy. The more I dwelt on how unfair my burdens were, the heavier they got. I was angry, and short-tempered, and mean, and for this I blamed the people in my life whose loads seemed very light compared to mine. I felt hard done by, set upon.
One day, the burdens became so heavy that I simply had to stop walking through life. I had to lie down and surrender. No. I cannot lift this alone anymore. Please help me. And as if by magic, all of the people around me who seemed to know what they were doing, who seemed to be doing so much better than me, all pulled from their pockets lumps of coal, small versions of the weight that was killing me. This seemed to me like the final straw, and a great injustice, until they explained that they had once been like me, that they had surrendered like me, that their burdens had once been so heavy they felt life could not continue. They explained to me that whilst I could do nothing about my burden alone, they would be happy to lift it from me and set it on the ground, and we could all chip away at it together. They promised me I would be surprised by how well it would work.
So we placed my great burden on the ground, and looked at it. For a moment, it seemed even bigger than I had imagined. I was happy to relinquish most of it: childhood name-calling, texts that went unanswered, arguments I barely remembered. These great chunks of pain simply rolled away once I decided I no longer had need of them. I was warned that I could pick them back up any time I wanted, and that they might even lie in wait on the ground to trip me up.
After all of these little nothings had been chipped away, I noticed there were some things that seemed impervious to the methods we tried. Some things that I did not feel ready to let go of. Some things that it would be too hard to let go of. And I grieved this, for I wanted to skip through life without a single burden as I had once done before. Someone took me aside and explained this to me.
Some of these are burdens that you will simply have to carry for the rest of your life. They have become too much a part of who you are and how you think for you to let them go now. They are harder than coal, and heavier than rocks, and they will be with you always
I was much disheartened, but decided that I had let enough of my other troubles go and could once again resume the long walk of life. And so I continued, changed forever by the heaviest parts of me, as it had been predicted. And yet I began to notice that one of these hard, heavy troubles was changing. I brought this secret trouble out into the world, and I showed it to people. I spoke about how it came to be and what it meant for me to carry this. I showed that it still held me back in some parts of my life. The more I talked, the more the secret changed. It grew brighter, it grew so bright that it started to reflect rainbows from its surface.
I got so excited about these changes that I started to tell more and more people. I shouted about it. I posted it on the damn Internet! Look, everyone, look at this! My secret is no longer a secret, and sharing it has made it beautiful! Sharing it has me proud! It no longer looks the same. I can wear it around my neck without weighing myself down, and it will reflect my beauty and magnify my strength, and people will no longer know me for my shame, but for the diamonds I have forged out of the darkest, coal-black secrets of my pain.
The glow of these diamonds is made by shining a light on my deepest secrets. By experiencing the pain I had ignored for so long. This is how I learned to love my pain. This is how I have learned to hold it close and treasure it as part of me. To give it some room to breathe. And when the time is right, I thank my pain and let it go. Polish away the grime of it. I let it go and through that I harden it into something like armour. My pain is my treasure and my comfort, for it teaches me that I can turn my deepest shame into my brightest light. Pain is not to be feared, because one day my experiences will cast light onto my best self. Pain is not to be feared, but welcomed in.
Last year I learnt to love my pain, because it gave me the gift of diamonds.