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“Often we cleave to things because they possess heavy negative charges. Pain has strong arms.” –Patricia Hampl

Painful memories can be as aggressive as the wind.

I was best friends with a girl from Kindergarten till sixth grade. She was slowly pulling away like silly putty in the fifth grade, but I didn’t realize it till years later. One day after school on the bus, she handed me a note. A few words still stick clearly in my mind like gum on the bottom of a desk: “I don’t think we should be friends anymore.”

Though I have watched my sister lose many friends over big fights, I had never lost a friend straight out of the toaster like that, and haven’t since. 

Through Jr. High she built up a reputation as one of the cool kids, and by High School she was one of the most popular girls in the class, listed in the yearbook as “Most likely to become a gold digger” along with others of the sort. As I had watched her de-pants others in the hall and become a Witch with a capital “B,” I decided I didn’t need a friend who’s wardrobe took on a whole new meaning of  the word “easy.” Still, that note bothers me to this day.

I believe that our hardest critic is ourselves. Maybe that’s why we cling to pain. We usually settle for what we think we deserve, when in reality we probably deserve higher than we give ourselves credit for. But then we are hurt by those we glued to ourselves—maybe they get up and leave or die—and we cling to the pain because it is the only reminder we have left of them. Friends and family help us spew out excuses of “new beginnings” like a rip in a water hose, but once we are alone we admit the truth to ourselves. We wonder what we did wrong.

So if we can’t have love, we settle for pain. Feeling something is better than feeling nothing, because at least if we are in pain, we can punch a wall, we can soak our pillows, we can buckle over and wait for the cat claws in our stomachs to subside. Even if it is a little thing, we feel something.

Eventually everyone we care about and love will be gone. However, we know that we have to eventually expect that kind of loss. But the kind of pain that we don’t see coming, that can sometimes be the pain with the strongest arms. 

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