My sister and I went to a Taylor Swift concert on Tuesday.
Everyone starts out wanting to hate Taylor Swift, me included, a few years ago. And if you still hate her, you clearly don’t know enough about her…because she is generous, she is dorky, she is kind, and she has a way of translating pain into words that heals people.
The drought was the very worst
When the flowers that we’d grown together died of thirst
Rain came pouring down when I was drowning
That’s when I could finally breathe
And by morning gone was any trace of you,
I think I am finally clean
I started liking Taylor Swift when I lived in Japan and I was getting over a heartbreak. I stumbled across the song “If This Was a Movie” and I was struck by how many times I’d felt that exact same way.
When C and I broke up, her Red album saved my life. Seriously. I listened to it nonstop for like 3 months and even considered burning a copy and leaving it on his doorstep.
And I don’t need to tell you about how 1989 has been celebrated everywhere. Because if you don’t know that, I really hope you’re loving that rock you’re living under.
So what does Taylor Swift know about pain?
Pain will engulf you. It will break you. You will hate it.
It’s unavoidable. It’s human nature to resist it, but pain cannot be resisted. And, happy surprise, just because you’ve had heartbreak in the past doesn’t mean that future heartbreak gets easier. It just means you’ll know ahead of time exactly what you’re in for. When my parents split up last year, I cried to my husband, saying, “I know how long this is going to take! I know how sad I’m going to be! And there’s no getting away from it!” I was right.
Pain will take a tremendous amount of energy. It will suck you dry, and it will change you.
Pain has this way of doing what meditation often fails to: it will keep you, excruciatingly so, in the present moment. Second by second. Is the clock broken? Because it will seem like it. Three months will feel like three years. You will wonder if you’ll ever be happy again. Walking to your car will feel like climbing uphill. Pain will suck you dry; you’ll know you need to sleep but you won’t be able to, and you’ll sleepwalk through your life.
But slowly, your pain will change you. You’ll find yourself oddly more compassionate toward others. Small acts of kindness will move you beyond belief. You’ll be able to look people in the eye more than you ever could before, because you have nothing to lose and there’s nothing left to hide…and when you look people in the eye like that, you will actually truly see them for the first time.
And when the first laugh explodes out of you, you will feel like you’ve never felt anything as deep. It will be nothing like those hollow laughs of the past.
You will find that you are starting to be different. You will wonder why.
Pain will leave you. It will slip out the door unnoticed. And you will thank it.
Just when you think you can’t take another moment, something will snap. Something will reverse, let go, retreat. And you’ll be able to breathe, just a little. Those moments will come more and more often. And then, one day, you’ll look back and realize you had a good week. And then a good month. And suddenly, you’ll realize you’re over it and you don’t even know when that happened, exactly.
But you WILL know that it happened. And you will know that you’re different. Remember those days you thought you’d never be happy again? You will discover that you’re wrong and that you’re actually happier than before. (It’s called post traumatic growth and I’m kind of obsessed with it lately.) All that pain hollowed you out and you now have more space for joy than you ever had before.
But it’ll go beyond that. You’ll forgive easier. Laugh harder. And you’ll be able to spot someone suffering from a mile away, and you will have the urge to comfort them.
Please, comfort them.
People will come to you because they’ll see that you’ve been through some sh!t and that you successfully got through it. They’ll ask for your advice, and they’ll lean on you.
Please, let them lean on you.
I came across this Taylor Swift quote that’s been going totally viral and I thought, “Damn, that girl knows a LOT about pain.”
“Maybe you lost someone you never expected you would lose. Maybe you lost yourself, that’s even worse. When you have bad days that just won’t let up, I just hope that you will look in the mirror and remind yourself of what you are and what you are not. You are not your mistakes. You are not damaged goods or muddy from your failed explorations. You are not the opinion of someone who doesn’t know you. You are a product of the lessons that you’ve learned. You are wiser because you went through something terrible. And you are the person who survived a bunch of rainstorms and kept walking. I now believe that pain makes you stronger and I now believe that walking through a lot of rainstorms gets you clean.”
I couldn’t agree more. For all the grief, loss, drama and sadness I’ve experienced, you would think I’m a hot mess of issues. But actually, as I keep going, I am stronger. Truer. Purer. I am not the giant mess I was in my twenties. I, too, am clean. And you will be too.
This will not destroy you. You are not wrecked. People won’t smell it on you and stay away. It’s the opposite! This will allow you to get closer to people than you ever imagined. This pain is a scalpel that is cutting an infection out of you. YES, it hurts; YES, it’s unbearable — but once it’s done, you will be free.
And you will be so thankful for that pain, once it’s gone. You will tell people, “I hated it, it broke me. But it changed me, and I’d go through it all again in a second. I’m so grateful it happened.”
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
first, the hardship
must break you –
it will make you.
At the end of her concert on Tuesday, these words appeared on the screen:
I feel the same. You will too.