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Pain has to be dealt with

"When I am emotionally upset, I clean my house from top to bottom," said my friend. Another added, "In my case, I bake up a storm."

It is interesting to observe how different people handle stress. This week, I had the opportunity to see how some individuals face bad news and cope with difficult situations.

You have the ones who, right away, hide behind an attitude of bravado. Yes, they say; it's bad, but I can handle this. After all, I am strong and life happens. Their minds go 100 miles an hour trying to intellectualize and make sure to numb the pain, quiet the fear. They do not look you in the eyes; they change the subject and say; "I'll be OK." they usually are the one who experience what I call "delayed reactions." They throw themselves into the thick of the crisis at hand, do what has to be done, take charge. Often they take care of others by reassuring them... everything is going to be fine. There is no way in their reality they will allow themselves to be vulnerable, because to them this emotion is a sign of weakness. Then a week, month, or year later, it hits them. What they so carefully managed to keep in their brain finally has to be felt, processed and accepted in their heart. They run out of justification and rationalization. They heal, but it takes them a long time.

Those in the second category will not even mention what's going on and convince themselves that it's not happening. They will hang on to their denial and emotionally isolate. They will pretend life is fine and go about their business as usual. If you point out that you feel something is not right with them, they will get angry and tell you to mind your own business. Some of them will spend their lifetime denying everything that comes their way. Their fear is too great and too threatening to take the time to face what is really happening to them. They are sure that if they admit they are hurting they are going to lose it. They keep those deep secrets tucked away forever. Their lives are in a constant bondage.

Others who are faced with great emotional pain totally disintegrate. Tears fall; morbid thoughts are there for the taking. They obsess, paralyze, they quit living and escape in sleep or use other means to numb themselves. You try to help them, but the message does not come through. They end up bitter, resentful and terrified of everything. These desperate souls often make desperate choices.

Naturally there are many other reactions to difficult times, but it is always based on our fear of accepting that, as human beings, we will hurt, feel lost and confused. We each have our own way of dealing with traumatic events, but I have discovered through my life, that it is very important to be willing to walk through the pain, face it and finally accept what destiny brings my way. Because at the end of this long process, healing will be mine to hold and I will be stronger, wiser, and my faith will carry me at all times.