Monday, November 23, 2009

Last week, two very unrelated people stopped and asked me why I chase pain.

I stopped and thought about this for a bit, then came to the conclusion that pain is something I feel comfortable with. You get used to being hurt, you expect getting hurt, so you hurt yourself before others can hurt you.

Logicalish? On an emotional survival level yes. It's control. It's not as bad because you are doing it on your own.

So I settled on that conclusion.

A few days passed.

Friday came, and I wanted to wait out the Friday-night-in-LA traffic, so I decided to go see a movie. Checked out the various theaters around, then came back to An Education. Wasn't really sure what it was about, but I kept hearing wonderful reviews.

So I opened the synopsis to see it was about a younger woman, heading for college, seduced by an older man. Criminal type.

My heart stuttered.

Was this me? Would this cause me pain? Did I really want to do this?

I deliberated for a few hours, while winding things down at the office, before deciding that I probably would. Drove to the theater, just a few miles from the office, and as I was parking, my anxiety reaching a mild pitch, I thought to myself:

Why am I anxious?
I am afraid.
What am I afraid of?
The emotions that this movie could invoke in me. What it could make me feel.

I turned off the engine and got out of the car.

The emotions that I have, the regret, the longing, the feelings of fear that I may never meet another man as wellmatched for me as he was, that incredible fear that he, he was it. That I would spend the rest of my life wondering. That the female lead in the movie, in the end, might choose the man over her boring life, and live happily ever after, and that it would make me cry. Again.

Things that make me (or have made me) cry, on an entertainment level:
-The ending of Swing Kids
-When Mufasa dies in The Lion King
-Two particular scenes in the musical: Wicked
-The Disney version of Old Yeller
-The end of Sweet November
-Batteries Not Included, when the little one dies
-The acoustic version of Stabbing Westward's Waking Up Beside You
-Rawl's novel, Where the Red Fern Grows

I cry like a little bitch. Totally do.

Anyhow, that was a massive derailing.

I was afraid of the movie, I was afraid of the ending.
I've been hesistating going up to certain areas of Hollywood because I don't want to deal with the memories.

It hurts.

But I realized it was fear, fear of emotion, fear of pain.

Pain happens. None of us dodge it.

And those emotions, the ones I'm so good at supressing, are still there. They will still come out, when stimulated, no matter what I do, no matter how much I convince myself that it was for the best, or that he wasn't that great, or just to forget the way he made me feel.

It reminded me of why I chase pain.

Because life hurts.

Because I've been plagued with anxiety my entire life and I've let it impact me so much, so damn much. Which means any new situation, any new place, is going to trigger a mild to major flight-or-fight response in me.

And it is my job to recognize it, to not run, but to encounter and address.

And it is my job to determine whether a situation is truly hazardous, or if it is simply the anxiety triggering the adrenaline.

My body, my chemicals, fight me living the life I want.

So I know that things will hurt me. I know I will step into situations where I cannot tell if my instincts are speaking to me or just another imbalance. And I'm going to do it anyway.

Because I have to learn. Because I have to know how to survive. Because things are going to hurt unless I burrow up in my room, and even then loneliness can find me.

I live and chase pain, I chase awkward, I chase my anxieties down streets until I find them and dispell them or trip and crash into the pavement.

That's what I have to do.

Otherwise, I wouldn't do anything.


  1. You weren't chasing pain when you were with GV8.

  2. I was chasing anxiety with him, constantly. Doing things that triggered that fight-or-flight until I could get myself to relax, learn to trust him, learn to trust myself. It wasn't all butterflies and ponies.

    Last two relationships I was in, I coccooned. I stopped growing. I was happy enough. I settled down. I never challenged myself, never tried to make myself better or address my problems.

    I did not do that with GV8. There was pain, there was anxiety, and I did chase it. If you go back far enough, you'll see the posts.

  3. I read "Where the Red Fern Grows" as a kid. Very like "Old Yeller" if I recall correctly. You must be a dog lover. Very nice and sentimetal books for a kid.

    Also (mixing posts) liked your Christmas reverie.

    Seeking pain is not something animals (including humans) naturally do. There's something in your background or makeup that makes you do it. I have some guesses but I'm not sure.

  4. SP,

    Anxiety is not pain. But the fear that is experienced when entering into potentially painful situations is incredibly similiar to anxiety. It's difficult for me to tell the difference.


    I love animals, in general. And, thank you for the compliment. I enjoyed(?) writing it.

    I suppose and hope that I'll figure out why I do what I do, one of these days. We'll have to see. I just hope it doesn't turn me into a hippie.

  5. I, too, chase pain. I angst over guys I know I can't have because then they won't leave me. I watched "Casablanca" after telling a boy I liked him the day before he left for Japan. I'm a masochist.

    Thanks for the comment on my blog... it inspired me to keep going with these goals, that they do matter.

    Which scenes in Wicked, btw?

  6. Rebecca,

    Oh, yes, the wallowing. Even though it hurts, sometimes it's almost good to be exposed to an emotion in such intensity. Haven't seen "Casablanca" though. I know, it's a failing.

    Your list amazes me. Makes me want to create one. We'll see if I ever write it down, instead of keeping it all in my head.

    Honestly, it's been long enough that I only remember the first scene that made me cry, when Glenda chose not to go with Elphie. I can't remember what the second one was, though if I saw it again, I'd remember. Such a good musical.