When it comes to pain, we all generally choose to either fight or flee. The injury is inflicted, the pain begins, and often aside from conscious decision we choose one of the above. This applies to the big stuff in life and the little day-to-day stuff.
Marissa and I come from very different cultures in this regard. Please believe me when I say that neither of us believes that we are exactly “right”, but we are usually quite sympathetic to our own way of dealing with things.
My tendency is on the fleeing side of things. Now, I am not talking about cowering in the corner whimpering, or running away in fear. No, when I flee it is much more dignified than that. I learned how to do it at a very young age. If I were to express my response in words it would sound something like this, “Yeah, that didn’t really hurt, I can just carry on with life without skipping a beat, watch me.” Sounds pretty strong, right!? Can’t hurt me, I’ll rise above it.
Marissa’s tendency is on the fighting side. Though she’s not the type to swing a fist, her emotional response is more likely to say “Let me at ‘em, I’ll teach ‘em, I’ll stop them.” Sounds pretty strong and admirable, right? You can’t hurt her, she’ll knock ‘em out and take care of the issue.
Honestly though, our different ways of responding really rub each other the wrong way sometimes. I just wish she would take it easy and not let hurtful people get to her so seriously, especially because her feistiness makes me nervous. She just wishes that I would stand up for myself, and sometimes she even tells me what she would have said if that person had spoken so disrespectfully while she was there.
At first glance it looks like we are on opposite ends of the situation. Wouldn’t we find perfect balance if we would just meet half way? But the truth is that we are both on opposite sides of the same messed up coin. Whether we fight or flee, we are both unconsciously attempting to avoid experiencing more pain. We have just been prescribed two different types of pain relievers.
What I would propose, as suggested by a wise friend of mine, is that though we may rightly attempt to avoid injury, pain is not something to be avoided. Pain is something to be faced and worked through in order to reach true healing and growth.
Marissa and I don’t just need to accept each other’s reactions, and love each other for who we are. Somehow we need to set aside our ways of skirting the issue of pain. We need to come together to face the pain and work our way through it. Every time we truly make it through some of our pain, we emerge closer to each other. As we face pain together we are becoming kindred.