Tag Archive: pain

Some time ago, The Fabulous Lorraine posted a thought about being on fire.  For that, I owe her all the mangoes she can eat, ever.  Let me give you just a taste of what the poem she quotes is like:

Lo, blessed are our ears for they have heard;
Yea, blessed are our eyes for they have seen:
Let thunder break on man and beast and bird
And the lightning. It is something to have been.


It is, truly, something to have been.  Without it, there would be no knowing what beauty is.  So we try things, and hurt ourselves in the trying, sometimes.  We fuck up.  We do what seems right at the time.  We do what seems fun.  Whatever.  And then, we hurt.

So how does it reflect on an author, when that author is willing to hurt, to injure, to maim, to torture, to kill a character? Or to make up whole new things worse than death, just to do to them?

I will do terrible, awful things to the people I write or write about.  I am a bad person.  I feel no remorse for forcing them to live through things that no sane human being would survive.

It is something to have been.

Who am I, to deny them freedom?  Freedom of choice comes with freedom of consequence.  You can’t have one without the other.  It doesn’t work.

Put it another way: these are the things they must experience, to become the people they will end up being.  Stealing their pain, their anguish, their hurt is only denying them a part of life that is true, and instructive, and necessary to form a child into… something very else.

So I will not cringe from doing genuinely awful things, to characters and readers alike.  I realized that, the day I knew I had written someone that all of us know, that all of us like, someone who had the potential to be everything and to make the world, if not entirely right, at least a vastly better place.  He had the right, the responsibility, the privilege to live and to take pleasure both in living and in making the world a better place to be.

Naturally, then, just as he realized what he might become, I murdered him.

I say it that way because it is my writing.  It is my hand holding both the quill and the sword, and I refuse to shy away from being responsible for the genuinely terrible things I’ve done.

But if I hadn’t murdered him, nothing would be the same.  He needed to die, both for himself and for everyone around him.  So at least it wasn’t a truly pointless death.

I don’t mourn him, because he still lives in my head, where time is whatever I want it to be.  Even if that weren’t the case, I’d still have murdered him.  It was a painful task, one that needed doing.

Truly, it is something to have been.  To deny my characters the right to fuck up, to get hurt, to be strange, to learn by mistakes – to me, that denies them the right to be people, and not puppets.

One more quote, then I will stop:

The puppet thinks
it’s not so much
what they make me do
as their hands
inside me
that hurts.

Charles De Lint

Paradoxes of pain.

Pain is a curious thing.  It creates different reactions in different people, at different times, under different circumstances.  Everyone goes through a lot of pain in their lives, and reacts to it in approximately seven squillion and three completely disparate ways, depending on… everything.

It has been a hell of a year.  It is about to be another hell of a year, but in completely different ways.  I am thinking about all of the pain that I have been through in the past year, and contemplating on the changes it has made in my body, my mind, my soul, my person.


I am more vicious.  I am more compassionate.  I am less likely to empathize.  I am more likely to understand.  I am stronger.  I am more willing to compromise.  I want to help more.  I’m better at drawing on boundaries on what is help, and what is enabling.


I love more people, more willingly, and am more open.  I am more afraid, and more defensive, and more likely to have violent reactions when people I love hurt me or make me afraid.


I’m less likely to hold grudges.  I don’t have the time or energy for the kind of hate I have nurtured in the past.  I don’t need the burning passion of despite against people; I have more than enough despite for causes and bigger problems and passions to keep me warm at any season, any time of day or night.  There are bigger things than people to be angry at; single persons are too small to deserve my destructive energies for long.


I am more resilient emotionally and mentally, and much more fragile physically.  I will be in the hospital a lot this year, and that doesn’t scare me as much as it should.  I am glad that I have friends and family and loves I can depend on to take care of me – and I am not afraid to depend on them, because having to ask for help is not weakness.


I have redefined weakness and strength, over and over and over.  I am still doing it, every hour and every day.


Pain had a hand in doing all this.   I am bitter and resentful and angry about my pain, and I understand very deeply why people are angry about the pain they suffer.  I cannot help but be grateful as well, because I cannot help but see how it has made me more into the person I want to be, and moved me further away from the person I was afraid I would be trapped into being for the rest of this life.


I hate my pain.  I love my pain.  I wish it had never happened, and wasn’t still happening.  I am grateful that it happened, and occasionally cut myself up with it internally, to teach myself the lessons it has to offer more clearly, more permanently.  Pain is a tool, a teacher, a punishment, a penance, a purgatory, a visceral experience.


What pain will this year bring?  What will I learn?  What will I fail to learn, that I will curse myself for after the fact?  What will I learn poorly or incorrectly, that will lead me down a path I will regret?  I don’t know.  I will learn some things well, some things badly, and it will be a hell of a year.  One way or another, it will be a hell of a year.


(I have talked to three or four people about pain today – to any of you that read this, thank you, and I hope that your own pain can be an ally.  If not today, then someday.)

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