The Tug Back into that Old Familiar Pain

Song lyrics often speak to me like a voice from above. During difficult times, their words both soothe and encourage me. They often have a way of expressing what I am feeling much more poetically than I ever could.

Over the past few months, a few things particularly difficult happened, which brought to mind the lyrics from the song “Every Breaking Wave” by U2. I’ve attempted to weave them into my own writing. I’m not sure if what I’ve written will only make sense to me. If you have any helpful comments, please leave them below. I welcome your thoughts.

“Every breaking wave
On the shore
Tells the next one
There’ll be one more” 

Grief is an odd thing. I feel good and strong one day and the next it hits me like a wave. Grief’s strong current pulls me back in. I don’t think it ever really goes away.
It just recedes for a while. 
Then, when I least expect it, it comes crashing in.

I see a photo on social media of someone I used to be close to. I don’t want to be involved with the person anymore, but something about the photo tugs me back into that old familiar pain.

Pain I thought I had worked through. 
Pain I thought I was over.
And there it is for all in social media land to see.

A wave of grief returns and crashes over me. I hold tight and resist its power.

 “And every shipwrecked soul
Knows what it is
To live without intimacy”

I meet yet another good man who has a fence around his heart. I know this fact about him. He’s honest about himself with me. But I don’t want to believe it. I want to be with someone and I’m drawn in. But when I finally see that, once again, this will not end the way I’d hoped, I am tugged back into that old familiar pain.

Pain I told myself I would never walk through again.
Pain I thought I had learned from.

And another wave of grief returns and crashes over me. Again, I hold tight and resist its power.

“If you go your way and I’ll go mine
Are we so helpless against the tide?”

A date arrives on the calendar. To most, this date would be cause for celebration. But instead, all I feel is sorrow and another tug back into that old familiar pain.

Pain for what I wanted but didn’t have.
Pain for what I’ve lost.

“The sea knows where are the rocks 
and drowning is no sin”

The waves know where all my hard, jagged spots are—those old familiar painful places. And maybe–like rocks in the tide–what these waves are trying to do is to smooth out the jagged spots.

To polish them. 

To make them easier to hold.

So this time when the wave returns, I don’t hold tight and resist.

Because what I resist, persists. 

Instead, I surrender to it. I let the wave take over and do its work. I let it flow over me. I let it smooth me out. I let it flow through me, so much so that I feel like I am drowning. It comes gushing out of me in the form of huge sobs.

I cry until I’m emptied.

And when the tears stop, and the wave recedes, the painful spots seem just a bit less jagged and just a bit easier to hold. 

I see now that when I hold tight and resist the waves, the pain is greater and I feel weaker. When I accept and surrender to them, I feel just a bit lighter and somehow stronger. I feel softer and more compassionate towards myself. 

And I see now that the waves are slowly eroding and carrying away the parts that I no longer need to carry.

“Are we ready to be swept off our feet?”

In time, I know there will something else that tugs me once again into that old familiar pain. And when that wave of grief arrives, I will try to remember the gifts that it brings.

So I won’t resist. I won’t hold tight. I will be ready.

a curious firefly, © 2021

2 thoughts on “The Tug Back into that Old Familiar Pain

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