Pain and growth

by Pari

Adventures in colonoscopy-land

(Are you still reading?)

If you are, you’re already doing what I wanted to write about. Though it may have been fun to take you through the bends and kinks of my innards, my main goal today is to look at when we do things we don’t want to do because we know we need to. (Yes. I’m making an assumption here that this blog is worth reading.)

Title #2
Who died and made us all Puritans?

Decisions such as undergoing colonoscopies, closing down long-running blogs, or, frankly, opening ourselves to parenting, all require faith. They rest upon the idea that putting ourselves through some kind of pain — or struggle — will ultimately result in something good.

Title #3
The Puritans were wrong

We’re not all a bunch of losers who constantly need to atone through physical hard work and emotional self-flagellation. But most of us also aren’t going to get very far without putting ourselves in a position to experience pain, sadness, or regret . . .

This last week has been a really difficult one for me. Each unhappy event can be directly traced to a decision I made voluntarily, one I knew would try my body/heart at some point:
the colonoscopy
the upcoming end of Murderati
becoming a parent

And yet in the trials of these experiences, I feel only gratitude for having made those decisions because I know I needed to — for my health, for my future writing career, for my wholeness as a human being. Stepping into risk with my eyes open allows me to embrace all the unexpected good that goes along with that action. Difficulty doesn’t equal negativity. It doesn’t always equal growth either.

It’s just not fun.

However, I do believe that a certain amount of pain is necessary in a fully lived life. The urge to protect myself from it is powerful, but the urge to grow and learn is stronger. And I’m very grateful for that.

1.  Do you remember a moment you decided to do something you knew would be difficult/painful, but you did it anyway?
2.  Was it worth it?

15 thoughts on “Pain and growth

  1. Pari Noskin

    I'm totally amused. Let's talk about having kids some day; I've got two teens. It's so worth it . . . and often so incredibly difficult.

  2. Judy Wirzberger

    Pain is not necessary for growth. That is merely a mental justification for having to endure the pain. Although pain can be a catalyst, it is not a requirement. Sitting in a quiet garden talking to a stone hippopotamus can prompt decisions that avoid pain. Enjoy the bliss of looking back at a blog that shaped the words of writers, allowed a space for introspection for both bloggers and readers, and brought enlightenment to those who got online and seached for Murderati. May strings of silver wrap your heart.

  3. Allison Davis

    Dealing with teenagers skews your world. I raise other people's teenagers and have had foster kids and sometimes that was difficult and painful but I wouldn't have done it any other way. I'm currently mentoring my niece and tryhing to get her through high school and have taken her around to see colleges, which I will pay for. So teenagers bring their own breed of anguish and anxiety but all the good stuff.

    I supposed going to law school was diving into a chore that bore a lot of fruit for me, but I actually liked law school. Perhaps that's because I was ten years older than most of the others. It diverted me from my writing "career" (published but starving) so that was really the painful part. What we need to do to thrive…

    Change is always painful but necessary, it's hard to change. Even throwing old stuff out (did a lot of that lately getting ready to renovate)…so it's part of renewal, and Spring. All worth it.

  4. Pari Noskin

    Of course you're right. Pain isn't a prerequisite for growth, but it often accompanies at least some of those stretching instances. I also wrote this particular blog in the middle of a very difficult circumstance and I think that permeated my words.

    Thank you for helping me step back a bit. (Petunia thanks you too 😉 )

    Wonderful examples all.
    I think sometimes the difficulty to which I referred doesn't mean pain, per se, it's more what you're writing about — change and the dis-ease of that commitment to something unknown — throwing out the old, or letting it drop away.

    As to teens . . . bless you. I know you know what it's like. A tremendous gift. A tremendous responsibility . . .

  5. Fran

    Parenting is the big one. At the risk of oversharing just a hair, I was in such a bad place when I was pregnant that my bosses (lawyers all), strongly encouraged me to get an abortion or, failing that, give the baby up, and they lined up great families. Keeping the baby was seriously a tough decision, and being a single parent? Well, those of you who have been, know.

    Wouldn't change a thing. A lot of pain, sure, but totally worth it.

    The colonoscopy, on the other hand, was a piece of cake!

  6. Allison Davis

    Fran, that's appalling, even for lawyers. I'm ashamed to have them as part of my profession. Idiots. I applaud you for making the decision YOU wanted to make as difficult as it was. When that kid is 20, you will be thankful.

  7. Judy Wirzberger

    Pari, hope all was well with the colonoscopy. Over the years, I have read of your struggles and your conquests and what you deemed failures. You are like a never ending rose, always showing new brightness as. Amazing to see your talents unfurl. Experiencing you has been one of the gifts of Murderati. Alas, I miss the amazing voice of Louise.

  8. JDRhoades

    Fran, I'd like to be able to say that that story about your employers is too awful to be believed, but I actually do know some lawyers who are that bad. I used to work for some. I'm glad I don't any more.

  9. Fran

    Actually, Allison, it wasn't appalling. If you knew the circumstances, it was actually an odd act of compassion. They weren't the only ones who took that stance. My situation really *was* that bad, on many, many levels. The idea of me keeping the baby was upheld by a very, very, very small minority, and justifiably.

    However, the kid is now 30 and happily married and is a complete and utter treasure. But at the time? Sucky tough decision.

    Judy, I agree. I sincerely miss Louise's posts. I miss Louise.

  10. KDJames

    Pari, you have a knack for getting people to open up and talk about sensitive emotional issues. In public. Sigh. For various reasons, I'm trying to resist getting too personal here today.

    I'm sorry last week was a rough one for you. I'm not sure pain is "necessary" so much as it's inevitable if you take risks, if you care or love deeply.

    When I decided to have children, I certainly wasn't thinking about the potential pain and difficulty of parenting teenagers. I never once considered that. When I decided to get married, I didn't stop to think about the emotional anguish of divorce. I just don't think it works that way. I don't think we enter into friendships bracing ourselves for betrayal, or that as young children we love our parents and siblings while holding back against the day they'll die, or start up a new venture guarding our hearts from the day we'll shut it down. Or maybe I'm just naive and short-sighted. Maybe some people do live their lives with that kind of perpetual dread. How awful.

    But when pain comes, I think we have a choice. We can say, "Holy crap, that hurt. I'm sure never going to do THAT again." Or we can accept that pain is a natural result of things inevitably changing or ending, that it's a measure of how much we cared or how deeply we loved, and not a reason to never care or love or risk again.

    If I've learned anything from all the pain in my life, it's to try to live each day with no regrets. And part of that is not living in fear of pain. It's not easy. Yes, that means sometimes being vulnerable, but to answer your other question, yes, it has always been worth it.

  11. Louise Ure

    It makes me weep to read "we miss you Louise." I'll say goodbye tomorrow. In the meantime, Pari, thank you for the opportunity.

  12. Pari Noskin

    Like Allison, I'm appalled. I'm also glad you made the right decision for you. That's how I feel about parenting too — totally worth it in spite of the occasional heartbreak.

    Man . . . thank you so much. What kind words.

    Still awaiting the colonoscopy results; keep holding a good thought.

  13. Pari Noskin

    I should've read your second comment — about your former employers — before my reaction.

    I think you're right about not being able to think that far ahead. We just can't know what some of our long-term decisions will mean in the, um, long-term. But it's that action of acknowledgement and continuing to put our feet forward rather than retreating that invokes the growth, that solidifies it for the next potential test.

    Glad it was worth.

    It has all been so for me too.

    Oh, heavens. You're welcome. Thank you for blessing our lives with your words here for as long as you did.

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