What Are You Getting From Pain?

For most people the aftermath of a punch in the face means a phone call to the police or a trip to A&E. But not Lucian Freud. His reaction to a nasty altercation with a taxi driver was to put the pain and anger aside and head to the studio to get his rather impressive black eye down on canvas.

guardian.co.uk – Lucian Freud

Self-Care Tip #136 – Get something other than anger from your pain.

Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.

Say it however you want, everyone gets and everyone looses.  We could say, “Life,” if you prefer.  Or insert wherever you think good things come from and where they go.

Who hasn’t just gotten their fingers around something they wanted, realizing more and more each moment that they really wanted it, pleasure rising, gratitude and satisfaction driving itself deeper inside – just to find it somehow escaping their grasp?

Morris Venden, preached it.  He had a low, hound-dog voice, a face to match and severe social phobia he struggled with life-long that just added to his beauty.  He preached his own shared experiences with people.  People like me and you.

A man working a job he never liked finally retires and buys his little house to grow old in, a garden he could play with, and a year later finds the love of his life suddenly dead with cancer.   And it all turns to ash for him.


Early portraits by Lucian Freud

Your firstborn dies.

You were cruel in a debase way.

You develop mental illness.

Your divorce is ugly.

You father commits suicide.

You have a disabled child, and then another.

You’re paralyzed.

You prostituted yourself for drugs.

When I heard Venden give this talk the first time, I thought I got it.  Even now after years and after darkness, I think I get it.

Before one of his talks, when I was still in medical school, Venden asked me to sing this with him.

Angels never knew the joy that is mine, for the blood has never washed their sins away, tho they sing in Heaven there will come a time, when silently they’ll listen to me sing “Amazing Grace.”

We stood there on stage.  Me smiling too largely because that’s what I did in front of people.  He, uncomfortable, a little blunted and suited with a thick knotted tied, stood a few paces away.

And it’s a song holy angels cannot sing, ‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. ‘And it’s a song holy angels cannot sing. ‘I once was lost but now I’m found’

I looked at his droopy moustached face and his eyes were red and wet.

Holy is the Lord, the angels sing, All around the throne of God continually.  For me to join their song will be a natural thing.  But they just won’t know the words to “Love Lifted Me.”

This is what Morris Venden thought he was getting from pain.

What ever our pain-story is, was, and becomes, holding the anger is gripping the ash.  For Morris Venden, he took care of himself by finding this instead of anger – more knowledge of God’s love.  Moving his grip to that was his self-care.

Question:  What are you getting from your pain?  How do you do self-care when you lose?  Please tell me your story.

7 thoughts on “What Are You Getting From Pain?

  1. I think the Taoists understand pain and suffering and acceptance in such a stoic, unresentful, angerless way(no pun intended) that is much more comforting than most cultures could adopt. But as part of the western technopolis, I think they are nuts. Seriously, I learned I had to feel the sorrows and disappointments in order to become what I am now. I know there will be more. One time I admonished God in that since there 5 billion on the planet, even in his omnipotence how could he keep tract of me on whom to dump this endless barrage of misery? I demanded a divorce and He could keep all the property as well. On the other hand I have found that the majority of my pain had its source in me, in the missteps committed in unregulated and foolish self destructive behaviors. I have three little grandchildren. If that is what I had to suffer in order to have them in my life, it was worth it. I won. The Great Trickster holds no more crushers from which I cannot recover with existential stubbornness and because of that and the amazing grace of which you speak, it has allowed me to see beyond with the glory and the light that cannot be repossessed by the Great Trickster.

  2. I am lucky that things have gone pretty smoothly so far for me. Sometimes things happen, like I have lost friendships, but it happens, and I move on. Nevertheless, I still can get pretty stressed over silly things sometimes, so I just try to remember that God always has things work out. Either the things I worry about don’t happen or when something does happen, it eventually gets fixed or I learn to deal with it. Methinks religion is a very important part of dealing with life’s troubles.

  3. 2010 has been a year a of loss,i’ve been loosing a lot recently: my best friend, interest in things i used to love, my sanity, lol my hair (its going gray!) & more things i dont want to write about on the internet lol….even though i keep loosing these things that are dear to me i have to remember that through these experiences i also gain, wisdom and better understanding of the world around me…

    in terms of dealing with loss i tried retail therapy-a temporary fix, actual therapy lol and plain old just trying to forget it ever happened.

    these don’t seem to be working anymore, so i have to constantly remind myself to be strong, everything happens for a reason and that this must be apart of GOd’s greater plan for myself. I try to keep Jeremiah 29:11 in mind, one of my favorite verses in the Bible “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

    its encouraging to know that i’m not alone through this even though we all feel alone at times.

    love the posts, i’ll try to comment more, keep ’em coming!

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