Pain creates a version of you that you can't even recognize.
Surviving with pain can be like living inside a stranger. Because, whether emotional or physical, it utterly alters your unique version of self.
It is still you somewhere buried inside the pain, which is one of the worst parts. Seeing a side of you, you previously did not know existed or intend to ever know. Native to self, but altered beyond recognition.
This pain Alter-Native is destructive and brutal. It is instinctual and cruel. It's merciless. Stripping a soul of its humanity and erasing the view of its own worth.
It affects your moods, your esteem, your dreams, your body, your mind, your hope, and your ability to cope or function as you once did. It changes how you interact with other people. It twists how you see the world and the future. It traps you in the moment. Pain leaves you dreading the moments to come.
You overreact, lash out, and close off. You turn on yourself and others. At its worst, there is no future or world beyond the pain. It is everything and inescapable. It is devastating and changes you.
The Alter-Native attacks the parts of you that make you feel like you. It steals joy and eats hope. It reduces you to the ugliest parts of being human.
Seeing this alternative version of yourself is incredibly hard. At times, you delve into deep denial about the extent of the changes. Then, you tear yourself apart from the loss of yourself. It becomes very hard to believe you will ever be you again. Especially when pain can literally alter the way you look. So much so at times, that you will be shocked at your own reflection staring back in a mirror.
You can rationalize and prepare to fight, but, in extreme throes of pain, the Alter-Native will always momentarily win. Realize that in its entirety.
There will never be enough of you to fight off the Alter-Native when every part of you is struggling to survive the pain. There is no ability to focus on coherency of self during such a primal, epic battle. True pain trumps all. Reducing you to the most basic form of survival. One agonizing breath at a time.
But, it doesn't last. There will be moments the pain eases. So when the Alter-Native wins the battle, do not lose sight of the war.
In the relief of the moments with less pain, do not allow the Alter-Native to live for even one more second. Every breath without soul-altering pain, forgive yourself. Let go of all guilt and shame. Recognize that you are only human. The Alter-Native is merely a by-product of your pain, it is not and never will be the true version of you. Find you again in each moment.
If you have trouble finding you in the peace, look back and see you in the agony. Look hard. You are there. Look back with clear eyes.
When in pain, you screamed, you begged, and you cried out. You grieved. Human beings do that, not monsters. You fought. You survived. The Alter-Native did not.
Apologize to yourself, and others if you need to, but let the Alter-Native go. It is not an easy task, but life is too precious to hold on to monsters. You are too important to let slip away. Surviving shows you alternative versions of self, but you still have the power to make the choice that the true of you survives.
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