The Bandwidth of Pain

Whose Story Will Be the Worst?

Pain Profile 2

We all have a story to tell, I search for yours to better understand mine.

We all have a story that waits to be heard.   No matter how uplifting or how dire the tale may seem, we all have known pain and we’ve all known joy.  We like to mostly brag about the joyful things in life and to show off, a little, all the good we have.  It’s good to say my happiness in life is good, and maybe even a little special.

On the other hand, how odd and strange is it that we sometimes take great pains to take measure of the pain of others too? To judge whose suffering is worse or not, or even worthy?  Are we really special because of the ways we have been subjected to pain?

Regardless of our circumstances, richer or poorer, surrounded by many or none, we encounter the same range of emotions from various ranges of circumstances.  It is only the circumstances that cause us to judge what pain level is necessary, appropriate or even merited, as though some of us may have got away with something.

Some of us have had been abandoned as children, some only temporarily, but even so both groups will share those first moments of realization that they had been left behind on purpose.

Some of us have been told our bodies hold disease with early fatal outcomes.  Some will die, and some will have some amazing intervention that continues life, but what real difference was there in their feelings when they were first told that news?

Some of us have lost loved ones from sudden tragedies, lingering illnesses, and even family disputes.  Is the pain from these losses so significantly different?  Do we miss one more?

Whether we burn our hand on a match or a hot coffee, or lose our only key to the car, or if our laptop gets smashed, or we lose our last dollar, deeply or nor not, there isn’t any shortage of situations where life will shoot shards of feeling through us until we scramble for ways to cope and/or beg for escape.

The moments of aches and heartbreak may not rise from the exact same stories, but really there is only so much bandwidth for feelings.  How we feel them varies in degrees according to our natures and of course the circumstances, but short of incapacitation or an early death, we will all experience the range in some way in our lifetimes.

No one really, should feel like they are the only ones to feel what they have, not for the sake of comfort in a ‘misery loves company’ kind of way, but hopefully at a minimum, to share compassion that comforts.

Ideally, we would grow to focus on our commonalities and heal together. Our shared stories are guides to solutions.  It is the stories of how and how well we overcame pain that really says who we are.

Everybody’s story deserves to be heard; only some of us get that benefit, especially if we speak or write in public forums.  When we tell our stories, we think they are only our own, but I have to wonder, when we do tell them, how many of our seven billion people are we really speaking for?



26 thoughts on “The Bandwidth of Pain

    • Oh Hook, how nice to hear from you. I am still finishing my first cup of coffee and you’ve already got my brain pinging far more effectively than the caffeine.

      On another note, you’ve given me an opportunity to send a second reply to your announcement that you’re temporarily stepping back from your posts. Naturally, only after I sent my comment,did I come up with: first you Hook me, then you leave me.

      Wishing you the best for a speedy return to health and keyboard.


  1. Pingback: Musings on Learning Through Joy Instead of Pain | Kiera Dailey

  2. I would say, ‘how many are we speaking to.’ That is, how many have read those pieces of our soul and identify so easily into our words. No two stories are identical, but everyone recognizes words from the heart. Keep going, you’re doing great!


  3. Reblogged this on Blog Woman!!! and commented:

    For a friend, and in light of some recent stories coming forward. We all have a story to tell, I search for yours to better understand mine.
    I originally posted this last year, but it feels like it’s a better time to share it now.


    • Hi BK…. will go over and read your story in a bit. Without having seen it though, I think your point makes my point. We aren’t only talking about ourselves even when we think we might be.


  4. I can’t remember when I first realized that some of the things I felt weren’t mine alone. I think it was when I was writing personal essays for a professional journal and kept getting these emails telling me how they were so thrilled to hear someone else speaking their truths. It helped me to know that no matter what I wrote, there would be someone out there who understood, that I wasn’t really alone. It’s the thing that makes me write something I don’t want to. You brought that out–thanks!


    • Thank you! Yes, despite knowing those probabilities, I still sometimes get that slightly panicked feeling before publishing something that I think might be too personal, or perhaps placing me in a spot of too much vulnerability.
      I think this is part of my own journey of walking through my fears. Thanks again for your visit!


  5. This message was beautifully said. Too often, people want to make pain a competition, and they don’t realize it’s a competition that no one wants to win! It doesn’t make any one person stronger for having endured the most because people’s breaking points are all different. You are a marvelous writer! 😀


    • Thank you Rachel, and yes, actually this was originally inspired by a post I’d seen back then that castigated someone for daring to suggest that they understood his pain. The writer’s sharp retort was about how his experience was unique and how dare the poor comment-er feel he had a right to assess “understanding”.
      I really questioned why this writer chose to publish his story in the first place. Of course, he wanted to be seen as fully unique and therefore entitled to some sort of privileged compassion.


  6. Excellent post BW. It resonates well with my concept of how the universe works One of the best posts dealing with internal feelings that I have ever read. Thank you for this – well done.


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