There’s a big gray lump called Pain living in my heart.

I had initially refused to let him in when he first jumped in that direction, so he climbed up to my brain and messed around there, and that was pretty dangerous. He was red-hot and fiery, and he burned some pretty vital allies of mine, like logic and reason, and there was no way I could outwit him. I tried ignoring him, but it was impossible to escape his heat. He cackled gleefully as I got burned, and I’m pretty sure I burned others, too. I tried beating him, but he kept coming out on top. I then tried starving him, drowning him, soothing him, confusing him, distracting him and shouting at him, but every time, this Pain won.I had initially refused to let him in

I realized I wouldn’t be able to rid myself of him, so, reckoning he’d be safer in my heart than in my mind, I let him back down.

But though I’d accepted the Pain in my heart, I didn’t like him there at all.

At least, however, with my brain back in session, I was able to cool his fires, and eventually he ceased to be a red-hot monster, and he morphed into a big gray lump.

A big gray lump called Pain. And I don’t like him.

His presence bothers me. He nudges me, trying to make me sad. His presence teases me. He nudges me, trying to make me mad. He follows me everywhere I go, doing his best to drain me. I refuse to let him overtake me, but the reality is that there isn’t enough room for both of us, and I’m starting to choke.

Since ignoring him didn’t work, I attempted the opposite and became obsessed with trying to talk him to death. But that didn’t succeed either. Whether he liked the negative attention or whether it diminished him slightly, I’ll never know, because he’s still around and as bullying as ever. He’s a quiet bully, but a bully nonetheless.

Some days he takes up less space than others. But since lately nobody has seen him, they all think he’s entirely dead. Sometimes, the more he pushes me, the brighter I smile. And the people who have met him in the past sigh in relief that he’s long gone. And sometimes that makes me feel a bit frustrated, but other times that delights me. It’s a victory of sorts.

Usually, he’s predictable in when he’s going to speak up loudly. Certain languages, scents and words draw him out quickly. He shoots out from where he’s crouching and, his smirk reverberating with my heartbeat, he grabs my heart. He grabs it so suddenly and so tightly that in order to breathe, I must immediately apply intense mental focus to peel his fingers off one by one and put him back in his place. I can accomplish this only when I am calm.

Once, I would freeze in fear, rapidly breathing shallow frightened breaths while vehemently denying his existence. But that would only make him squeeze harder, as if to prove that he was real. So, now I know to acknowledge his appearance and just surely and steadily remove myself from his clutches.

Yes, I am truly the master of this big gray lump called Pain.

He cannot rule me; I am not my pain. Yes, he is in me, but I am the master.

And as master, I determine that I may as well benefit from this Pain that’s not leaving. Maybe I can climb higher in life by stepping on him. This big gray lump called Pain can give me a tremendous boost if I topple him to the side and then jump right on him with confidence.

So I take a deep breath and thankI take a deep breath and thank him daily him daily for the fires he’s scoured me with, because of the powerful cleansing that’s given me. I recognize and humbly appreciate that all the crushing he’s doing to me is squeezing out my best self that’s hidden quite deep inside me. I have been deflated from his stabbing, and now have room for many others and much more in my life. I am utilizing my Pain to create such tremendous positive change that the big gray lump living in my heart deserves a second name. I call him “Good Pain.”

And I share that with a few people close to me. And they’re all really relieved now, because they had known that the Pain hadn’t left before—that type of Pain stays for a while!—but now that I revealed the whole process and I said it’s good, they can relax and even rejoice.

And I rejoice with them, and I smile with pleasure and gratitude at how far I’ve risen, but no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, deep inside, all the time, the big gray lump called Pain lives on.

And that’s okay. That’s okay because I was never promised a life without Pain; I was only assured that G‑d would give me the tools to rise above him.