Trusting Pain, Trusting Love

Shared by Robin Lynn

I’ve never let myself trust love because I’ve never let myself trust pain.
— Glennon Doyle Melton, The Love Warrior

Running, Acting, Avoiding

Avoidance. Something I know down to my very core. The art of running.

Ah, running. I have a love/hate relationship with that, too. I run to feel a release. I run to avoid the emotions that get caught up in my daily mundane tasks of the 9-to-5 job. I run to feel a physical pain that, no matter how terribly it hurts, is often less than my emotional pain. It somehow covers up the darkening of my soul and the solidification of my heart to where my insides end up looking like a black hole. Maybe I've always been a runner, figuratively.

I've hated it at times, but it's what keeps me afloat. The mask. The show. The actress fooling everyone into believing she has everything figured out and the world at her feet, when in reality she cannot bear her own emotions. The actress who lets no one know that her internal pain has always been something shameful—that if I felt it, it meant that something was wrong with me or I wasn't doing something right.

After all, I have everything going for me, right?

The actress would say, "But of course." The woman underneath the mask would say, "Nothing of the sort," because every time she felt pain, she would go numb. She would run. She would isolate. She would do anything possible to get rid of it. She would work. She would pour herself into school, and then work some more. She would do anything but feel that pain, because pain was something she had been taught was bad to feel.

Longing for Change

She never allowed herself pain because she thought she'd crumble if she really let it soak in. If she really allowed herself to feel everything that had happened to her, everything that had gone wrong in the world and in her life, everyone who had used her or left—she'd break if she confronted the inner demons. The voices that told her she was broken and disgusting and worthless after meals, or after rejection, or because of what some man chose to do to her. That she was useless and at fault because she couldn't get away. That she could have moved or fought him off when he said, "Wait, let me just stay here a second," after she begged him to get off of her.

Pain, she feared, would lead to paralysis. Pain would leave her with the inability to move. Inability to function. Inability to succeed or work hard at her mission in life: helping others overcome the very thing that she fights daily. Feeling everything she had worked so hard to bury could suffocate her.

And because she never felt pain, she never allowed herself to feel love.

"I've never let myself trust love because I've never let myself trust pain," wrote Glennon Doyle Melton in The Love Warrior. This book is the rawest art of testimony I had ever felt. In her words, I could picture myself. I found myself nodding along with her thoughts, agreeing to the feelings of hurt and pain and what she describes as "hot loneliness." I had to take breaks reading this because I've yet to allow myself to feel that deeply about anything. And when I do, it tends to be at the bottom of a six-pack of Henry's Hard Ginger Ale Soda, which I admit is not the healthiest or most appropriate way to feel. This quote is one of many that I hold in the back of my head.

I've longed to love and be loved in every form. This has manifested mostly through my mission in helping children, families, and adults overcome mental illness, sexual assault, trauma, and/or depression and anxiety. But I wouldn't be who I am if I couldn't admit that sometimes it is easier to help others than to help myself. I know I've heard some of my clients say they put themselves on the backburner only to put others ahead—it's what they feel like they deserve. And I have to say, I agree.  And yet, somehow, in this twisted world, I am able to help them overcome that. I am able to help them put themselves first, so they can become better helpers in this world.  Coincidence? Maybe not. Maybe I have gone through what I have gone through in order to best help those who don't know quite how to process their hurt.

Becoming a Brave Person

As for me, I avoid the hard conversations. I avoid confronting my own demons. I avoid the emotions that come riding in on the trolley with my past. I avoid people when they start asking me to become more intimate in conversation—when sharing my inner thoughts and feelings could result in become exposed if I slipped ever so slightly.

I've only ever loved one person—or so I've been telling myself for the last 26 years. And when I say love, I mean romantic love. The type of love you read about in Nicholas Sparks' novels or see in Disney movies. The love most people only ever hope of finding in a lifetime.

At least, I thought I loved. And I think—maybe, in a way—that I did.

But as I sit here in my two-bedroom apartment, which I use only half the time, I don't feel love. I feel the opposite, actually. I feel so distant from this feeling that I can't even begin to define love. So then I wonder, did I even love at all? Was the love I thought I felt infatuation? Obsession? Lust? Was it putting all my energy into being the person I thought someone else wanted, so I didn't actually have to confront the lack of love I was giving myself? Was it giving everything I had to this person so that I could convince myself I was doing the right thing, and avoid the pain that was carved into the top of my bones?

Unfortunately, I believe I know the answer:

What if pain . . . like love . . . is just a place brave people visit?

I learned once about the contrast that is necessary in our lives for us to experience things fully. If we didn't have rainy days, would we appreciate the sun as much? If there was no nighttime, would we enjoy the daytime, or get sick of it? If we didn't know pain, would we get to feel the capacity of love to its fullest? I don't think so.

I am learning that pain is okay. Feeling pain means that I care, and I love caring. It is a core value I have, and I am learning to trust myself and trust that I can overcome this. Maybe you are going through something in your life that has caused you immense pain. Maybe you, too, need to know it is okay to feel hurt and okay to be where you are, but you don't have to stay there.

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About the Author

My name is Robin Lynn, and I am twenty-six years old. I grew up in a small town in Kansas and moved to Kansas City for my last year of graduate school in 2013. I have always had a heart for giving, for helping, and for talking with people who are going through trenches, so I became a mental health therapist. Throughout my career, I have worked with both children and adults who deal with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

I thought I had found my calling and had a distinct plan for my life until the summer of 2015 when I became a victim of rape. I later developed PTSD myself and have been figuring out what my life is going to be like living with this disorder and continuing to help those in the mental health profession.

I never thought I’d be on the other side of the couch. However, this event both changed me and empowered me to speak out, offer support and community, create a place of healing, and to work toward changing at least one person’s world through my story.

In October 2016, I created, a website that offers all these things in addition to online coaching with me, where I help people transform their lives, overcome adversity, and become the people they have always dreamed of no matter what trials and mountains they have had to climb.

My mission is to help others rise by building resilience, finding identity, and cultivating strength and empowerment. I am determined to build people up in a world that is fighting to bring them down.

I am a mental health therapist in the Kansas City Metro at a private practice called Resolve. I am a recovering perfectionist, a Type A personality, and a survivor. I am a dog mama, a runner, and someone who struggles daily to overcome depression, anxiety, and memories from a traumatic event that forever changed my life.