Most of us have been there: a relationship, friendship or personal situation that went sideways, fast and hard, and left deep wounds.
It's a pain that lasts, and it can be caused by all manner of things. One thing that has become increasingly clear to me throughout my life, which is a life somewhat dictated by bad health conditions, is that managing pain is very important.
How do you do that, though, when the pain is an internal one? When it's caused by a person rather than a physical trauma?
Not to say that physical trauma can't be caused by people, but I digress.
It sucks, but it IS going to hurt, for a while. Like, that won't go away. It's part of the process, and it sucks, and it continues to suck. It's why this blog isn't about making pain go away. It's about managing it.
Exacerbating it is the big risk, and a lot of people don't even necessarily know they are doing it.
I mean we've all done it to our meat, right? Our knee has made a funny noise and we've thought it might ache a little so we've just tried to walk it out - or as the Crossfit people call it, "active recovery" - and then the next day it is the size of a cantaloupe and feels like it is filled with molten glass.
If we're smart - we feel our knee do that little click-pop thing, then we slow down, we sit down, and we see how it feels. And then we go a little easier on it. And sure, the next day it aches - but it isn't the size of a cantaloupe, and it may well recover in a day, let alone a week.
We can do the same for our souls.
If this person hurt you - hurt you bad enough that it comes back at the most unsuspecting times and plagues you with anguish - then dealing with them isn't going to make it better.
So - if you can at all help it - don't.
Don't talk to them. Don't hang out with them. Don't randomly skim their social media. Don't spend time checking up on them.
It sounds kind of basic, maybe even childish, but - if you have no need to talk to them, if you aren't tied to any kind of responsibility that includes them, if the only real connection is that you two used to be together before this person did the thing they did...then there is no need.
We find this hard, though - because for a long time, this person was involved in our lives, and change is sometimes more difficult and intimidating to bear than abuse or torment. It gets easier, though. It's always easier to rip the plaster (band-aid to you folks in the US) off in one clean stroke and then ache through the aftermath, than to tug it off a micron at a time as if in dread of the discomfort.
Front-load your pain. Take it in one hit, then move past it.
The thing is that anything that could be gained by not doing this will end up bitter. If this person betrayed you, if this person hurt you bad enough that you want a revenge against them, then - tailing after them isn't going to help you.
There isn't a win condition, there.
They won't hurt the way you hurt, and certainly not visibly. They won't be disadvantaged the way you have been. They won't suffer that impact of poorly-imagined karmic justice that you thirst for - and even if something bad happens to them...it probably won't be bad enough, because they'll get up afterwards, and how dare they recover when you still hurt?
You won't find victory there. You won't even find a draw.
The reason for this is pretty simple: it's because we think that, once Person X stumbles and falls the way we believe they should, the hurting will stop and that hollow feeling in our gut will go away. The moment they fall into the bear trap or the person they cheated on you with leaves them, you turn in glee to your inner self and wait for the hurt/hollow to vanish, and...
...it just doesn't.
We do a lot of things to make that go away. A lot of folks don't even need to be damaged by anyone or anything specific to have that hurt/hollow in their gut. It is there already, for a variety of reasons - some of us are born with it. I've blogged about this kind of thing before, actually. Right over here. It's part of a four blog series I did on insecurity.
So what do we do about it? After we tear ourselves away from waiting for our temporary nemesis to fall into the bear trap?
We get on with it, honestly.
It is an oft-repeated truth that success is the best revenge, and it is one I fully believe in. Success comes in a variety of forms, but the most true way to succeed in this world is to put yourself in a situation that is better than the one you were in yesterday. Or last week, last month, last year - anything. Just to take a step up and know that it isn't leading to three steps down.
Step one of that is neutralising or discarded the things that hurt us, as previously mentioned. We have to take time to identify what is a negative influence, what is a drag on our minds and our souls, and work out how to cut it loose or streamline it to the point that it doesn't slow us down any more.
This in itself can be quite painful. We don't often like what we see when we study ourselves. That, however, is part of it. Realising that we're overly critical of our own selves, accepting that this is built into our brains as some ridiculous leftover of evolved-out behaviour, and taking that skewing of our perception of ourselves into account.
That's why we can't pin our happiness on competing against someone else. It will never be enough, because we're incapable of seeing our own worth properly, especially when we're clouded by anger and resentment. There will always be something that we find that sours even the sweetest victory against our adversary, because we'll always be looking for it.
So we cut them loose. And it hurts - and every now and then, that memory will drift back, of that good time we had.
And that's fine. Those times WERE good. Just make sure you also remember the bad times, too. We can go back and play an old video game and try and ignore its flaws, because those flaws won't wound us. Nostalgia for people is a trap.
So do what is best for you. Talk to your friends, surround yourself in things you enjoy, maybe find new things to enjoy entirely. Work hard, learn something new.
One day you will go the entire day without thinking about the thorn that stuck in your side, because you'll be too busy being your best self.
That will be a really good day.