Give It A Name

When I was a young girl, I knew something was "off" despite lacking the words or knowledge to fully describe my innermost struggles.

I mean, how does a child explain being apprehensive about eating for fear of throwing up? How does a child endure a policeman's presentation on "saying no to drugs" without losing sleep and feeling fully the inevitably of developing a personal drug addiction in the near future?! (Or having an encounter with a drug dealer outside the schoolyard!) And how does a child watch Jessica's rescue from a Texas well without feeling positively certain the exact same thing would happen to her?

My stomach hurt often. (Which is to say, all the time!) When medication ceased to take the pain and upset away, a stomach X-ray was ordered. Having to leave my mom and follow a nurse down a long hall, which eventually led to Barium and a machine resembling a spaceship, was one of the most terrifying experiences of my very young life.

The images showed that everything was normal.

So what was wrong? What was wrong, what was wrong, what was wrong?

I remember once, in high school, watching an infomercial for a self-help book and companion CD. It was late at night, I couldn't sleep, and I got wholly sucked in! (I still don't own a Magic Bullet! Why don't I own a Magic Bullet?!) The testimonials spoke of tools learned from the book for managing generalized anxiety disorder. What? People who were riddled with excessive worry preached that they felt better than they had in years. The success stories were nice, but I was more fascinated by the root of the problem beneath the shiny surface. The disorder.

Blessedly, more information came into my sight line over the subsequent years. I took a freshman level Psychology class at Utah State, I read a couple of books, I talked to my family physician, I talked to my OB-GYN. Eventually a diagnosis came. Answers came. Peace came. Pieces of a lifetime puzzle fell into place with gentle and beautiful clarity. I had a name for what was "wrong" or "off" with me.


I've learned something important on my quest to fully understand all the parts of me. And that is this: When you give a name to your pain, it completely changes the game. (Totally thought of that snappy phrase myself, people!) I believe something powerful happens when you identify your hurt and then call it what it is. It takes a planet-sized presence--that weighs heavy on your shoulders and crushes your spirit--and transforms it into a marble you can hold in your palm.

Not to say it becomes small, as in insignificant. (Because oh my goodness, your pain is significant and real and valid.) I mean it becomes small, as in more manageable. You can face it, tackle it, endure it, see joy through it, overcome it. A known marble resting in your hand still gives you the freedom to move, to run, to dance; the unknown planet on your shoulders is as immobilizing as it is suffocating.

Knowing what you're dealing with, giving it a name, speaking it out loud, educating yourself on it returns all the power back to you. Where it belongs.

You are more than your pain.
You are bigger than your pain.
Be strong at your broken places; they're beautiful.



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