Choosing to Suffer

When life is hard and I am sad, there is a temptation for me to disappear inside my head. I see a lot of things in there and my imagination works really well when I focus in on a particular scene. It would be so much easier to invest in that reality, the one I create for myself, and it's worked well for me as an escape many times before. Like in high school when I was feeling lonely as the new kid in town, I would dream away Math class by envisioning some dramatic scene: the day I finally talk back to my insulting teacher and walk right out of the classroom, down the hallway and out the door, never looking back. Or on some Friday night when all my friends had dates and I was home alone. The hours until bedtime passed much more quickly when I spent them imagining the perfect date for me and whatever boy I had a crush on.

But these days I find it best reign in those fantasies since I am happily married and the people I am angry with are people I hope to be able to forgive some day. And over the years, I've learned to recognize this pattern of life whacking me over the head and me running to hide. Truth is, the hiding doesn't do any good, pain knows how to find me. So I want to pay attention. I want to look in the mirror and feel sad enough for the tears to roll out of my eyes. Not so I can wallow in it, but so I can name the grief for what it is and give it space to work. There is a time to mourn. And when things come to an end, real relief is not found in imaginary scenarios. 

There are so many ways to hide and escape. Some, like simply keeping busy, seem pretty manageable, but so many others can slowly morph into addictions. And soon the cure becomes the disease, robbing us of true pleasure during the good times. I don't have this all figured out yet, but I believe what Jack and Joy say about how the pain is part of the happiness.

And the quietness here on the blog can not be helped for now. The details are not mine to share, only the sorrow. I am thankful to work through it a bit in words. And even more thankful to those of you who are reading them now. Your comments are grace.


Anonymous said...

I am so well-acquainted with the mental addictions of pain... thank you for articulating it. May the previous pain show off the healing soon.

Joy said...

I thought I was the only one that did that! We'll work through this one together. Our pastor spoke on Sunday of the story of Lazarus and how God can tarry. He didn't show up before Lazarus died, only after. It wasn't clear why he waited until the end of the story. I know he hears us today and hope he doesn't tarry long.

Phil said...

Janna, I've read this post 3 or 4 times now, and I'm just struck by how much meat there is here. Maybe it's because I know those same Friday nights (I'm having one right now), those calls to addiction, the times when I'm so paralyzed inside my own head that I just lay there, unable to move past the speed bump the wheels of my mind get stuck behind. Why does escape have to feel so dang normal and yet never deliver the payoff we expect it to?

Please keep writing...you're good at it.