Pain Shopping

trustHave you ever heard the lyrics to a song, and felt almost positive that the song could have been written specifically for you? There are several songs that I avoid listening to anymore, mainly because of what they whispered to me at certain haunting times along the way. One song, though, stands out among them, and I’m reminded again that I’m still walking a precarious path emotionally, and it would be wise for me to guard myself from falling into yet another trap. That is the trap of using pain shopping as a defense against someone. It, like anything else, can become a crutch… an addiction, even… that will tear you up even as it protects you.

The song is Somebody I Used To Know by Gotye. It’s like the fourth most popular song ever in the entire world, so you’ve probably all heard itused to know before. The lyrics I’m referring to go as follows:

You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I’ll admit that I was glad it was over

Read more: Gotye – Somebody That I Used To Know Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

What really strikes home with me about this song is the obvious contradiction between the level of sadness the singer is experiencing because of his lost lover refusing to continue as just friends, compared to the carelessness of his words. If the past lover was now just someone he used to know, then why the song? I like how it seems to call attention to the internal struggle that can go on in the heart and the mind of a single human being.  I can certainly relate.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m still occasionally finding myself “pain shopping”. This is the term I use to refer to the intentional dredging up of sad and/or painful memories, with no clear constructive reasons. Instead the opposite is true… remembering for the express purpose of torturing yourself all over again. The pain is what you are purposely looking for.  I found myself doing this again last night. Chef has made plans to move out of Tulsa. But even though I had consistently and clearly told him I was not going back to him, he seemed unfazed by my objections. I don’t mind him living near me…I mind him moving near here just because I’m here.

Chef seems to blow me off when I tell him I’m finished with this marriage, often sending an intimate or hopeful text within hours of my last effort to make him back off. It looks like he is ignoring what he doesn’t want to hear, and I think that is what may have set off last night’s massive pain shopping spree.

living and shitI have such a laundry list of things I could name that still have immense power over me. Just a brief thought of some of them is enough to make the freshly healed wounds break open again. These loaded thoughts seem to hover near the surface of my mind, ready to drop like nets around my heart should I move to lower my guards against Chef.  Last night, Chef had excitedly mentioned that he was heading out of Tulsa maybe that evening, and while a part of me got somewhat excited to see him (Yes. Sometimes I still miss him a lot), the other side of me got all freaky, and within a few short minutes, I had all sorts of painful memories marching through my mind. I baited him with a particularly inexcusable one, and the war was on. I fired the first shot in this latest battle, and I despise the guilt I feel over it. How is he supposed to heal if I keep breaking his wounds open as well as mine? I used pain shopping to push him away again, but the bill was affecting both us yet again. There is no need for either of us to try keeping what we had alive. It’s been dead for a really, really long time now. Any chance of resurrecting it again is gone, and I fear only complete silence on my end is going to make it climb into its grave and disappear completely from both of our lives.

I just suck at ignoring him. I really have no idea why!

For the millionth time, we vowed never to speak to one another again. It usually lasts about four days, although I find that I am not the one who breaks these silences any frog twolonger. Part of me is very glad; the other is kind of sad all over again. Just how many times am I going to have to say goodbye to this guy?

Today, I am reminded that Chef has shown me a side of himself that I can’t live peacefully with.

Here’s how I try to explain it:

For a lifetime, Chef was just the really cool guy.

One day, when he opened his mouth, a large, slimy frog tongue flicked me in the face, causing me to bleed. Thinking it was a fluke or just my imagination, I kept returning to Chef, hoping to see that the frog tongue wasn’t real. Each time I did, the tongue was still there, and it would flick at me mercilessly. Finally, after too much proof, I had to accept the Chef had grown a frog’s tongue.

Now, Chef no longer flicks me with a long, slimy frog’s tongue, and would like me to pretend that he never had one in the first place, and that all the scars from the little wounds his nasty tongue inflicted on me are from other things.

How can I do that? He might grow that tongue again, or worse. I was traumatized by his behavior, and I can’t never mention any of it to him again. We simply can’t heal together at all.

I tried explaining the Frog Tongue Theory to him, and he just thought I was calling him a frog face. If these men or women that hurt us could just have a physical phenomena happen, like growing a large, slimy frog’s tongue, it would be so much easier to deal with the fear. The fact that a narcissist or psychopath looks just like anyone else, makes them so much more frightening, in my opinion. I don’t know if Chef honestly can feel real regret over all that happened. His words say one thing, but his actions and his self-pity say something completely different. I get the impression that frog tongue is still in there, hiding.

At any moment, my stomach might have begun to bloat...

I don’t want to be hyper-vigilant in any relationship, always waiting for the other person to mess up. I think that will be easier with someone who hasn’t already hurt me over and over. I don’t see how I can relax with Chef enough to trust him again, and my peace and the joy I take out of life is important enough to me to give me the strength to leave the past, with Chef in it, behind.

The pain shopping has to stop. You can, indeed, get addicted to a certain kind of sadness, as well as pain, self-pity, martyr-ism, and a bunch of other bitter things that spring up out of real trauma. I don’t want this behavior to go on in me, so I’m cutting out what triggers it… Chef. I’m going to do my best to completely ignore his efforts to contact me, and focus my energy on more positive things.

I’m feeling more peaceful after putting my thoughts about last night on the screen and out of the dark corners of my mind where they can grow into monsters.

I would normally apologize to Chef for launching this latest attack, but I think that the more merciful thing to do is to completely let him go… both for me as well as for him. In case he ever does read this blog, at least it’s up here so  he’ll know I am sorry I keep this stuff alive. I’m trying to let it die.

— Bird

Update on Dad: Dad had fluid removed from his right lung yesterday, and his left lung this morning. Obviously, he is remaining on sedation for a little while longer. The doctors are hoping to wean him off the trachea and the sedation aggressively in the next few days. When he started coming off sedation yesterday, he did seem a little more alert, but he wouldn’t talk. I don’t really know what to think except my dad is one stubborn, strong man. I’m in awe. Thank you for all the prayers!

6 responses to “Pain Shopping”

  1. Hey 🙂 this is the first time i went through your blog, and coincidentally this is the first post i read and it hit me in such a way that it reminded me of what i’ve been going through for years now.

    i was traumatised once, doesn’t matter what, and even though i moved on and tried to focus on positive things, it didn’t certify that i won’t be able to feel those feelings again. it’s funny because, like what you experienced, i also go on pain shopping and as a result i push the people who were once and, to some, are still important in my life. the sad part is, for me, it’s been going on for years now. what i’m saying is, one has to face the trauma itself and not the person or event that caused it, or not to leave the person or event that caused it. but, i don’t know, that’s just me. i enjoyed reading your post though! hope to read more posts from you soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Quote: “I don’t want this behavior to go on in me, so I’m cutting out what triggers it… Chef. I’m going to do my best to completely ignore his efforts to contact me, and focus my energy on more positive things.”

    Start by changing your phone number. If you don’t take this first yet simple step, it just means you still want contact from him.

    Liked by 1 person

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