“No pain. No gain.” -Coach Harris, my HS wrestling coach

“You must allow pain to visit.”

(As sentiment beings, we don’t really have a choice).

“You must allow pain to teach you.”

(If we have to experience something that’s far from desirable, we might as well at least learn from it).

“You must not allow it to overstay.”

(One of the most important things that I have learned in recovery and self-care, as a person with Bipolar Disorder, dual addictions, and indoctrinated shame, is that pain is mandatory. Long-term suffering is optional. There are myriad healthy means to alleviate, mitigate, and relieve emotional, physical, and spiritual pain. I apply many of them, as needed).

In a counter-intuitive way, pain is my friend. The pain of depression, loneliness, rock bottoms, manic crashes, self-destruction, and desperation have driven me to pick up the tools of self-care and recovery that have kept me alive and high-functioning since 1993.

Whilst journeying along my rocky, nonlinear path of recovery and self-care, my dear friend pain (whom, admittedly, I embrace dubiously) has been there at each misstep, relapse, discovery of a new monster in my closet, twist, turn, and detour down a potential path to ruin.

Whether pain’s looming specter is providing motivation via a healthy fear of returning to the abject suffering of untreated mental illness and addictions,

Or it is injecting a dose of its stinging venom as a sharp reminder to stay vigilant and diligent,

Pain is my companion and my friend.

And in closing, in 1950 Bill Wilson wrote:

“Years ago I used to commiserate with all people who suffered. Now I commiserate only with those who suffer in ignorance, who do not understand the purpose and ultimate utility of pain.”

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