• What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger

    by Christy Sillman

    I sat there listening to her talk. A friend of a friend, going on and on about how upset she was about something I just couldn’t help but view as trivial. She was really angry. She was talking of breaking family ties over it. I was doing everything in my control to keep from laughing in her face. I guess when you’ve lived the life I’ve led you truly understand that the small stuff really isn’t worth sweating.

    I felt so many emotions after our conversation – jealousy, anger, disbelief, and thankfulness.

    Thankfulness is a sort of goal I try to achieve, know it’s a concept I should embrace, but sometimes it’s just a lot easier to focus on the negative rather than the positive. To relish the victim role. But for the first time in a long time I truly felt thankful down to my core. Not just for one of the many positive outcomes to the challenges I’ve faced, or for my general survival, but for the struggles themselves.

    I looked at her and saw someone so innocent. She doesn’t even know what true pain is. I feel jealous of her ignorance. Her earth shattering disasters would be a good day for me. She’s lacking perspective, and it makes me mad.

    But who would I be without all my struggles – without the scars I wear on the inside and out? I’d probably be the same. I’d be focusing on the wrong things entirely. My life wouldn’t taste nearly as sweet. The good times wouldn’t be savored.

    This is when I felt the gratitude.

    I am who I am, and suddenly all my self-consciousness goes away. There is nothing to feel jealous about. Yes, she is physically perfect and leads what I view as a practically perfect life, but now I can’t help but feel sorry for her. When she does finally experience pain, and I mean true raw pain, it’s going to hurt so much.

    I have felt pain since the moment I was born. Whether physical or emotional it’s a concept my life has never truly been without. Now I see what this pain has given me – an advantage.

    I know.

    I’m prepared.

    I cherish.

    I’m empathetic.

    My best friend Sarah has had a horrible year. I have watched her face some unbelievable challenges and my heart breaks for her. I love her more now than ever before. Not just because she continues to take one step forward at a time, but because she knows – probably even more so than me now.

    My favorite people tend to be the most wounded, because usually they are the wisest.

    I can’t blame the poor girl I had the conversation with. It’s not her fault and I’m happy for her innocence, but she doesn’t look so pretty to me anymore. My definition of beauty is changing.

    The women who have experienced the loss of a child (what I believe to be the worst possible type of pain) are beautiful to me.

    The women who have lost their loved ones in tragic horrible ways are beautiful to me.

    The women who struggle every day to live through illness are beautiful to me.

    The women who know they don’t know and are respectful of that are beautiful to me.

    I find beauty in the pain, and although I’m disgusted by this, it makes more sense than thinking shallow people are beautiful.

    I want the women I call friends to be warriors – to possess strength from surviving deep wounds.

    I’m changing through this conversation. I can see my pain as something beautiful too and I can be stronger because of it.

    I’m shedding my victim skin and finding a warrior underneath.



    • Right on to the warrior in you. I would never judge someone else’ pain on a scale. For all, I think, pain comes in many different ways and in many different shapes and color. It is not a competition. No one’s pain is better or worse than someone else’. How they process it is the real miracle of life and how they come out the other side. Always the warrior and never the victim-that is the essence of pain to me.


      • christy

      • December 11, 2011 at 2:16 pm
      • Reply

      Totally Madge! I could write a whole other column on how people judge or size up other’s pain, and I certainly don’t rank it. Everyone internalizes pain in their own way. This particular situation was more about perspective and how the pain allows me (and others) to achieve a broader perspective.
      I also think others don’t know how to approach pain, and when people are in pain the natural reaction is to try to point out the positive of a situation, but usually that starts with a sentence like “well, at least _______” and when you’re in pain thats usually the last thing you want to hear.
      As REM said “everybody hurts sometimes.” What we do with the pain helps define us.


      • Margie

      • December 11, 2011 at 3:27 pm
      • Reply

      I love reading your articles Christy! They always bring so much emotion out of me.. and then ivread it again, and I feel even different… very neat! I love you Libra sister and totally get this article on so many levels.



    • Beautiful work. 🙂



    • Yes, this is beautiful. I so agree that people don’t know how to deal with pain. They think it’s best to avoid, or stuff, and may never understand that the only way to deal is to attempt move through it.


      • Misara

      • December 15, 2011 at 8:57 pm
      • Reply

      Wow Christy! You have such a way with words! I was able to relate on so many levels. Viva the Warrior! 🙂



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