Please, Don't Minimize Your Pain For Mine

Please, Don't Minimize Your Pain For Mine

Your pain is just as real as mine

It happens at least once in every conversation I have. I've heard it a million times, and likely said it a million times. You've heard it a million times, and likely said it a million times. It's time for us to put this phrase to rest...

"But it's nothing compared to what you're going through"

Why does it have to compare to what I'm going though in the first place? You see, pain is subjective in the sense of what hurts me may not hurt you and vice versa. Within that subjectivity is a whole realm of other characteristics; how you describe the pain or rate it, where the pain originates, whether it be mental and emotional pain or physical anguish. Notice that in all of those characteristics there is no definitive form of measuring that pain or comparing it to others, there is no political way to decide which pain is worse--and there shouldn't be!

It seems that every time I'm asked how I am and I honestly reply, I'm met with that dreaded phrase. That answer is not only generated in conversations with those that are well, but aswell within the chronic illness community. We live in a world where we are constantly built upon and shaped by comparison and critique, by shaming ourselves and minimizing our emotions. We should live in a world where we are free to endure difficult situations and hardships in our own individual ways and still be given the support we deserve.

My problems and hardships hurt me immensely, some nights there is no greater pain than what I'm facing but my pain should not minimize yours. It should not be a gauge to determine where your pain falls on the spectrum. Regardless of what we encounter there will always be someone out there who is experiencing something worse. Does that mean we cannot cry when we encounter sorrow? Does that mean you are not entitled to be fed up and upset with your current reality? Does that numb or dull the pain you feel in any way? No, no it does not.

Don't discount your emotions and hardship by comparison, because it is so incredibly real to you and so incredibly valid even though you may feel that they are not. You have every right to feel the way you do irregardless to what the world and people around you are encountering. Our feelings cannot be ignored or wished away and the way we deal with them is by confronting them head on, and if your method of coping is by confiding in someone do not apologize for that. Dismiss any notion of what you’ve been told you “should” or “shouldn’t” feel. You have to drown out the voices of people who try to shame you into silence, even if it's your own.

Despite what you have been lead to believe, you don’t need anyone’s approval or validation to endure the feelings you are experiencing. Your feelings are intrinsically true and just. Each aspect of your experience is important and it matters and it is more than okay to react to the emotions you encounter. Don’t let anyone, including your own mind and self, convince you otherwise.

So the next time that you feel the need to apologize, or down play your emotions for the sake of someone elses--dont. Remember that your pain is just as relevant and as real as mine or as the next guy's despite anyone that tells you otherwise.

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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.


When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

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Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

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I Am 9,170 Miles Away But I Still Choose To Stand In Solidarity With The People Of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has its own flaws and imperfections, but what I've learned is that even on our darkest days, no one can take away faith and solidarity.


April 21, 2019. Easter Sunday.

I was devastated to wake up on Sunday morning to a series of missed calls and texts from friends asking whether my friends and family were affected by the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. I was shocked to read all of the news about the bombings in various churches and hotels that I'd visited on my trips to Sri Lanka. I remember wandering around the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in middle school hoping to get a glimpse of internationally famous cricket players like Lasith Malinga and Kumar Sangakkara.

Now, this hotel where I associated happy memories of staying up until 5 a.m. to watch the World Cup and running around with my brother is one of the 6 locations in Sri Lanka that was bombed on Easter.

Sri Lanka is a country that most of my peers have never heard of. It brings a smile to my face when I'm able to talk about the amazing experiences I've had on this island nation. I'm able to talk about how I almost got run over by an elephant during a safari in Yala National Park, how I took surfing lessons at Arugam Bay, and how I climbed all the way up Mount Sigiriya when I was 4 years old. All of these experiences have shown me the beauty of the people, the nature, the animals, and the culture of Sri Lanka. While there is so much to appreciate, there is also so much to acknowledge about its recent history.

In 2009, the 30-year civil war finally came to an end. I remember going to my parents' room when I was nine, and watching live streams of people in the streets celebrating that the war had finally ended. This was a war that caused the majority of my family to flee the country to avoid the violence and destruction. Now, almost ten years after the war ended, there was a coordinated attack on churches and hotels that led to the murder of over 300 innocent citizens and wounded around 500 people.

Sri Lanka isn't perfect, but it's roots and culture have made me who I am today. Even though I wasn't alive during the majority of the war, it has left a lasting impact on my family. My mom had to go by herself to Russia, without any prior Russian language experience, to avoid being in the middle of the war. She now speaks English, Russian, Tamil, and Sinhalese. I had other family members who fled to places like New Zealand, Nigeria, Canada, and Australia.

Because of the war, I have family all over the world who can speak Mandarin, Arabic, Dutch, Malay, French, Russian, and so many more languages. Being Sri Lankan has given me an international perspective on the world around me and has given me the insight to look past cultural differences. Instead of going to shopping malls with my cousins like my friends in the US do, I meander through bazaars in Singapore and Malaysia or go dune-bashing in the United Arab Emirates.

When people look at me, they never think that my last name could be Paul. Shouldn't it be something that is hard to pronounce or something much longer? My last name dates back to 1814 when missionaries from Williams College traveled all the way to villages in the Northern parts of Sri Lanka to share God's love. My great great great grandfather studied in one of the many Christian schools and his faith has been passed down from generation to generation. No matter how dark things got during the war, faith is what kept my family going.

Though Sri Lanka has faced adversity over the years, it continues to grow stronger. Through violence, hurricanes, government corruption, and internal conflicts, Sri Lanka continues to push through. Sri Lanka has its own flaws and imperfections, but what I've learned is that even on our darkest days, no one can take away faith and solidarity.

So today—9,170 miles away—I stand with the people of Sri Lanka.

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