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To say this week in the U.S. was painful is an understatement.
Waking up nearly every night between 2:00 – 3:00 AM with migraine pain, I felt like my body was sobbing in its own way for everyone in Parkland, Florida, and for everyone we’ve lost to gun violence in this country.
We numb our pain so well, don’t we? Every night for at least the last month — while I wait for my insurance to approve my neurologist scheduling a 4-hour IV transfusion for me — I line up my pain meds before bed.
Let’s see, I took the blue pill last night, so tonight I’ll take the peach pill, followed by an injection when the pain returns. I added CBD pills to the mix this week too.
Alcohol. Shopping. Food. Drugs. Violence. Whenever we have physical, emotional, or spiritual pain, we do everything we can to numb it, push it aside, distract us from it.
Believe me, I get it. When my marriage was falling apart, and I’d wake up way too early in the morning with a migraine, I’d tiptoe quietly to my basement and online shop while I waited for the Exedrin Migraine to kick in. It was at the time the only thing that soothed me.
But we have to stop numbing ourselves if we want to move through and get beyond pain. We have to embrace it, as crazy as that sounds. Because on the flip side of pain is love, believe it or not.
Nothing reminds me more to be in the moment than migraine pain. I can’t ruminate about the past. I can’t worry about the future. All I can do is be present, in my body, trying to breathe deep and ride it out.
Pain is a wakeup call to love yourself and those around you better, to do things differently. But that’s the rub: you have to be open to doing things different. You have to embrace the pain, not dissipate it in unhealthy way, in order to understand what it’s trying to tell you. And that, as any of you who’ve ever had a broken bone or heart or spirit know (and who among us hasn’t?), is terrifying.
Freeing, but terrifying.
Nikolas Jacob Cruz had no one to show him how to embrace his pain. I am in NO WAY justifying his horrific act. That being said, I can’t imagine the pain he must have been in to do something so atrocious.
But I blame not only him for 17 people dying just a few days ago but also the culture that surrounds him. We have GOT to do a better job of helping men deal with their pain. Let’s make it okay for our men to cry, to ask for help, to need comforting instead of a gun — and still be seen as strong, smart and sexy.
And while we’re at it, let’s just make it impossible for them to get certain types of guns period. The fact that this young, disturbed man could so easily get an assault weapon, walk into a school, and murder people rips my heart.
If you want to see an example of someone embracing their pain and transforming it into good, let me introduce you to Emma Gonzalez. Emma and many of her fellow students who survived the shooting this week are calling our elected official out for not doing more to stop gun violence. They are organizing a student walkout, a peaceful protest, to try and wake up those of us numb to the insane number of shootings in the U.S.
We have to make time for this pain. Only by embracing it together can we do right by our kids – and by ourselves.