Why I’m not afraid of pain

by Alexandra Carmichael

One of my favorite things to do in the world is be with someone in pain. Listening, reflecting, sharing that beautiful space of open tenderness.

Maybe it’s because I’ve had so much physical and emotional pain to deal with in my life. So it just feels comfortable, and grounding, and I know what to do. People feel comfortable sharing rawness with me, and I’m not afraid of it. In fact, it goes farther than that. I actually need to be with people in their pain, like it’s a life purpose or calling.

Having this insight in the last couple of weeks has been very healing and inspiring. The next question is, how do I find people in pain that want someone to listen and be there? I’m not interested in going back to school to become a therapist, and I wouldn’t like all the rules and restrictions therapists have anyway. Could it be as simple as being a good friend and parent, around when needed to listen and share? Will people just find me if I spread the seed of this new role for myself?

Of course, I never *want* people to be in pain, and I do feel genuine joy when people have passed through their pain. But I do seem to have a deep ability and desire to do this kind of emotional support work, so I feel like I want to follow this and see where it takes me.

I remember reading somewhere, probably in a Pema Chodron book, “Pain is not a punishment; pleasure is not a reward.” I carry that thought with me through every day. Pain will come sometimes, pleasure will come sometimes – both are normal parts of life, both are shared human experiences, both will pass. And both can make us wiser, connected, and stronger if we let them be there and listen to what they have to tell us.

Sometimes it helps to have someone to be there and listen with you.