Relativity of Pain

Several years ago, a friend of mine crossed paths with a man who was paralyzed from the neck down, the result of an attempted suicide from a highway overpass. In their brief conversation, the man told his story about how and why he decided to end his life following an unfortunate breakup, one that had taken too much of a toll on him. To the average person, this man would have seemed clinically insane.

“How stupid do you have to be in order to end your life after just a breakup?” Yet, in his own mind, the mental anguish from heartbreak and mental pain justified his actions. As much as we’d like to emphasize with the man, the amount of suffering that he experienced will never be shared to the same degree. We will never know what truly pushed him over the ledge.

Suicide, a topic that has ravaged my local community numerous times this year, is unthinkable to most people. The act of ending one’s life is a psychological anomaly that goes against all biological functions of the brain and contradicts every mechanic that the body has set in place to keep us alive. Suicide is no easy feat by any means.

In my personal life, the word lounges around in the back of my head. It’s the constant questioning of a “what if” situation that nudges me, surfacing every so often. I have experienced far too many first-hand accounts on what it means to lose someone to suicide. However, as much as I debate it with myself, I could never go through with it; I am a person that holds on to the concepts of legacy far too tightly; I am a person that loves and is loved; I am a person, when I least expect it, that wants to live.

But, for others, it might not be the case. Looking up the phrase “I want to commit suicide” brings up the following quote on a prevention website:

Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds

resources for coping with pain.

When you’re walking around in your own shoes, there’s a constant tendency to compare others against your own set of standards and morals. When somebody does something that resists those guidelines, then you inevitably disapprove.

So where do these morals come from?

Morals are principles derived from experiences that one has gone through that dictate what is acceptable to do. Subconsciously, you’ve been taking away from every single event, encompassing your entire journey through life. The current version of yourself is the result of years and years of stimuli constantly contesting your self-image and perspective of the world.

Every person you meet, activity you do, place you visit — it all comes together to form you. However, between you and the next person, there is an obvious difference; regardless of how big or small the gap is between the people you’ve met, things you’ve done and places you’ve gone, different people have varying amounts of life experience.  Where there are people to meet, there is loss to be had; where there are things you do, there are things you will never reach; where there are places to see, there are locations you will never see; where there’s happiness, there’s sadness.

Understand that there is a sense of relativism to pain. Whether it’s a physical tolerance or an emotional one, someone else out there will always be able to withstand what I cannot and someone who cannot withstand what I can.

Even though losing a loved one might be highly difficult for me to handle, someone else that has had to deal with death on a regular basis might be better equipped to handle such events — that does not mean the former person’s experiences are null and void.

In today’s world where this concept might not always be accepted, people are belittled for not being able to withstand hardships or even have hardship. People who have not had to endure discrimination, physical suffering or emotional pain are labeled as privileged and their experiences are minimized.

This contest for “who has it harder?” is a meaningless race to who can achieve the most pain — it does nothing constructive for society. People of all backgrounds, “privileged” or not, has a story worth hearing. Understand that while you may have suffered to get where you are today, someone else may not have, and vice versa.

There is too much hate in this world to keep shutting others out. We are all different, so let’s celebrate that.

Thanks for reading,

-LQH