Being Tortured Is A Choice

Pain-Is-Inevitable-Suffering-Is-OptionalI’m a glutton for punishment.  At least I used to be.  Looking back at how I handled many of the trials and tribulations in my life, I can honestly say I chose to be tortured.  I don’t think I necessarily made those decisions on purpose.  But suffering was the path I embraced.

Its hard to stay even keel when going through tough times. Especially when it feels like there are life altering, negative implications.  I know it’s a hackneyed platitude, but sometimes It’s hard to see the forest for the trees.

However, there are ways to utilize these arduous events as springboards to something positive in life.  Looking at my own life I find this to be true.  Out of every tragedy (or what I perceived as tragedy at the time) there has always been a lesson to learn and an opportunity to make my life better in some facet.

There have been times where I felt my world would end.  For example, two years ago I had to stop using steroids, give up my very lucrative illegitimate business and move away from the place I had called home for many years to start a new life.  I had to change everything I had known for the past decade (for better or worse) and become someone I had no understanding of.

I didn’t know what life would look like for me without the facade of who I had become.  It was the most uncomfortable time in my life.  At least it felt like it was at that point.  Today I realize it was a minor bump in the road.  I had previously survived adversity that felt like the death of “me” many times.

The results stemming from my behavior snowballed into more torture for myself.  I lost my relationship and the family setting I had so desperately wanted.  I ended up relapsing back into my opiate addiction.  I even debated making the ultimate mistake, committing suicide.

I chose to be miserable and create pain and suffering for myself.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but that’s what I was doing.  I had options, a multitude of them in fact.  However, I didn’t recognize them as such.  I was too focused on what I perceived I had lost.

I was unable to be observant of my environment.  I couldn’t focus on what my life could look like in the future.  I did’t understand that I could choose to be happy in that moment if I kept a level head and reminded myself that what I was going through would pass.

Learning to step back from my own situation and applying a less emotionally charged perspective has taken a tremendous amount of time and practice.  Quite often I fail at this.  Its like anything else, it takes a lot of reps to build that mental muscle.

We all have choices in our lives every day.  From the simplest choices like what we eat and what we wear.  To the most difficult choices of what we think about and allow into our lives.  There’s a quote I used to hear in AA when members would discuss the recovery process.  They would say “its simple, but its not easy”  The same holds true for how we choose to view adversity.

Learning to Understand and Deal with Pain Without Painkillers


If someone else treated me the way I treated myself I would’ve had to kill them. The massive amount of mental and emotional suffering I brought upon myself throughout my life has been insane. At 35 I am realizing that even though I have experienced a tremendous amount of pain, I never learned how to process and deal with it. I didn’t understand how the grieving process works and what steps should occur in a healthy mourning period.

In the past, when my skin started to crawl and my mind wouldn’t stop replaying the same thoughts, I was lost with how to interpret and handle those feelings. My therapist recently brought this fact to my attention.

For as long as I can remember I used foreign substances to cope with the pain I was going through. I stuffed whatever I didn’t want to face deep down inside of me. I numbed my senses with opiates, cocaine, women, money and alcohol. I used anything that allowed me to get out of “myself”. For that brief moment in time it would my fill my void and bring me some small, but fleeting period of happiness.

My life had become a vicious cycle of chaos and pain. A considerable portion of my pain was due to my inability to allow myself to be happy and content. I struggled to accept happiness and success; even when I had fought so hard to achieve them.

Something inside of me kept telling me I wasn’t allowed to be happy. I didn’t deserve it. If I continued to stay optimistic something bad would surely occur. I didn’t understand that it was ok to allow the good to come into my life without fear of repercussions. I continuously self-sabotaged my life and created chaos.

There’s truly a sick sense of comfort in chaos for someone like me. It’s very familiar and I understand how it works. I was fearful of what life would look like without chaos. What would it’s replacement look and feel like? This thought process caused me to stay sick mentally and live in my own turmoil.

When I decided to make a change I looked at my life and decided that I had two choices. I could either stop taking painkillers or I could kill myself. There was no middle ground for me at that point. Those were the only viable options for my life.

I was able to associate the feeling of such overwhelming pain with the use of opiates that I kicked cold turkey. My mind finally got to the point where the pain and suffering of withdraw, as well as having to deal with my emotions, were not nearly as great as continuing to use. That was the key for me. Forging a mental association that linked taking painkillers to creating more pain in my life, rather than taking the pain away.

The first couple of weeks I was physically sick from withdraw. However, the next several months of having to deal with all the mental and emotion pain was far worse. I had to face what I had created in my life and it wasn’t pretty. I had to accept that I had lost relationships, business opportunities, money and most importantly time because of my actions.

Occasionally I felt that I couldn’t handle all the mental anguish. I thought It may be too much and it would consume me. I’ve seen people experience tragic events in their live’s and never came out of it the same. They stay stuck in a rut with their past haunting them forever. Continually living out the same patterns ad nauseam, only replacing the characters in their story.

I’m only seven months removed from that life, but writing about it now seems foreign to me. It’s as if I’m not writing about my own life. When I replay my past actions in my head it’s like seeing a bad movie that so embarrassing to watch it makes you cringe. It’s unfathomable to me that I lived that way for so long.

I’ve learned dealing with pain is supposed to hurt. Allowing myself to feel whatever pain comes into my life and learning from it is necessary. Pain is the most powerful teacher we have in this world. It is the cornerstone of growth and change. It has taught me many of my greatest lessons; as well as evoked the most change in my life. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.