Our Own Personal Hells
The struggles may be different, but the pain is all the same
“How did you do it? How did you overcome so much in life and still remain so faithful and positive?”
“I could NEVER handle what you have been through.”
The list goes on.
One thing remains. I am still here, but you are too.
I call it our own personal hells.
In a world with constant comparison, it is easy to fall into the trap. We compare our physical appearance, we compare our success, and we certainly compare our struggles to others.
“You wouldn’t understand what I’m going through,” they say.
“You don’t get it.”
In a sense, they are right. We may never experience the same or even similar struggles but it all hurts, it all is hard.
The struggles are different, but the pain is the same.
I reflect back on my time as a cancer patient and believe although it was not easy, and seldom fun, I never saw overcoming as a huge feat or milestone in my life. As long as I did what was prescribed, and took proper care of my body, I believed everything would be okay.
Whether it was my naive teenage mind, or the reality of my struggle, I held the mindset that anyone could beat cancer if put into the circumstance. In hindsight, I recognize that it is out of our control.
The struggle was there, but the mental and emotional pain was not, at least for me.
My personal hell was not the battles of chemotherapy that left me lifeless far too often, or even the complete and total destruction of my body leaving me with no energy to even eat at times. My personal hell was the heckling and teasing that came from my peers as I had to walk the halls of my school with no hair.
The varsity basketball team had stopped me in the hall and ridiculed me to the point that I faked illness just so I could go home and hide within the walls of my room, in my own personal hell.
It was never the cancer; it was the inability to go unnoticed as just another regular high school freshman. It pushed me into dark times, but the pain I endured then has defined me as a stronger man now.
I recall absorbing all of the pain and fear of the unknown from my grandmother as she did her best to nurse me back to health, not knowing if her grandson would live to see another day.
My struggle of cancer hurt her much more than it hurt me.
It was her own personal hell.
So many times, we have conversations about struggles with someone. The other person often follows up claiming they do not understand how someone overcame, that they could never do it themselves. Yet, they may personally suffer with anxiety, financial pressures, or toxic relationships that take away from their happiness.
Their own personal hells.
We cannot compare our struggles to those around us. Our struggle is based on our perspective. Our struggle can only be seen through the lens we wear that allows us to see and interpret life.
A young child losing a pet may be the toughest obstacles they have currently faced, cutting and hurting them just as deep as an adult who may have lost a spouse unexpectedly. It is not on us to create a competition to judge who hurts more, or discredit our own pain because the world may not deem it as significant.
We all feel pressures so deep, so moving that it keeps us up at night.
The hurt is the same. The fear is the same. The disappointment is the same. The tears are the same. The only difference is the source of the pain.
See your pain as an opportunity to relate to one, not to separate from someone.
Instead of comparing and passing along your regrets, ask the right questions.
How did that make you feel?
What did it do it you?
What did you learn?
How has it affected you?
How did you overcome it?
When you hear their answers you will begin to realize that we are not all that different from each other. We struggle, we feel pain. We cope, we overcome.
Train your mind to shift your current perspective and how you handle adversity. More importantly, how you respond to the stories of adversity from others.
Create comfort, not competition.
Give support, not judgement.
Relate to the pain, not the struggle.
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