I’m Not Going to Stop Wearing Lipgloss

I want to continue the conversation on pain from my previous post. It’s obvious I’m no stranger to pain…I’m guessing you aren’t either. I feel things very deeply and pain is no exception. It’s something we all experience and yet, none of us want to feel it. Why would we? It hurts like hell! Let’s face it…no one wants that and we’ll do anything to avoid it. Well guess what? Pain exists and it’s not going anywhere. So why do I keep fighting it? What would happen if I just let myself feel it?

You’ve had this happen before. You experience something painful and you share that with a friend, a family member, a coworker. What do they do? They try to make you feel better, right? They tell you everything’s going to be okay, or you need to let it go, or you’ll get over it in time. They tell you those things because they care about you and they don’t want to see you hurting. It’s a natural reaction. We’ve all done it. But also, and this is just my theory, we do that because we think there’s something wrong with being in pain. It’s as if we think our optimal state is to be happy and positive and joyful…all the time. It’s not. Pain is a part of living life. It’s just the other side of joy. And if we could stop judging pain as “bad”, maybe we could just let ourselves be with it. What would that be like? Stop and think about it for a minute. Does it scare you?

I was on a teleclass last week with Geneen Roth. If you’ve never read any of Geneen’s work, I highly recommend it. She mostly talks about women’s relationship with food. But her underlying message is about acceptance and self-love. Something she said on the call really hit me! She was talking about negative emotions and how we eat or shop or do whatever we do not to feel them. She said, “Ask yourself, ‘am I willing to be with myself? Turn toward myself – lean into whatever it is I’m feeling.’” What I really got from that is whenever I’m trying not to feel the pain that exists for me, I’m not being present to my life in that moment. Even if I’m doing something “healthy” in place of feeling that pain, like working out or talking with a friend, or whatever I do to try to make myself feel better, I’m still not being present to that emotion. And I’m negating whatever is on the other side of it.

Whenever I reach in my purse to put on lipgloss, I feel sad. Because putting on lipgloss reminds me of time in my life that doesn’t exist anymore. I was in a relationship for over a year that ended about six months ago. I thought we were going to be together forever. The man had two little girls who I fell in love with. I was skeptical at first; I didn’t think it was possible to love someone else’s children the way I love mine. But I was wrong about that. It is possible to love children you didn’t give birth to. Maybe not the same as your own children, but just as deeply. I miss them every day.

Every time we went somewhere, we had a ritual. The three of us always put on lipgloss. I have three different shades in my purse…one for each of us. I would hand them out and we would all put on our perfect shade. Then we’d smile knowingly at each other. As if to say, “we look so pretty”. It’s a girl thing! I enjoyed that bonding time with them. I looked forward to it. I miss it.

So now when I reach in my purse for lipgloss I am painfully aware I’m not going to have that experience with those two little girls again. And I feel sad. Now you may be thinking, “why doesn’t she just get rid of the lipgloss so she doesn’t have to feel bad?” Good point. But I don’t want to. The pain is a reminder of how deeply I love those girls and the time we spent together. The reason it hurts is because the experience meant so much to me and it gave me a great deal of happiness. The other side of that pain is joy and I don’t want to forget that. So I’m not going to stop wearing lipgloss just so I don’t have to think about what I’ve lost. I’m going to wear it and smile through the tears…and remember those special times we had together. And hope they remember them too.

Part of this little experiment of writing is to really be open to everything in my life and I think pain is a part of that. I still don’t want to feel it and my instinct is almost always to push it away. But now I know I can survive it and am better for having ventured down that dark road. So when I’m tempted to run away because I’m afraid to feel it, I want you to remind me, there’s nothing wrong with pain. It’s a normal reaction to loss. And maybe, once I let myself feel it, I’ll be able to touch the joy that exists on the other side.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa
    Feb 27, 2011 @ 15:21:10

    Very well written Shannon. Everything you post I can relate to. I do that with pain as well — try to find some way to get rid of it and usually its an unhealthy way. I try to avoid it. But as you said, you need to walk through it to get through it as it just keeps returning with a vengeance. Walking through it every time makes you work through it. I do believe walking through the pain of the same issues does get less painful but only if you “lean into it” as you say.


  2. Emily Rhoades
    Mar 18, 2011 @ 15:29:26

    Shannon, I love this post! The last couple years have started to teach me this very important lesson, and I know I am just beginning my own journey of discovering how crucial it truly is. You said my thoughts perfectly and I hope people take these words for what they are – great advice. I plan on keeping up with your blog, just so you know – so keep up the great words of wisdom, I’m loving what you have so far! 🙂


    • Shannon McDonough
      Mar 27, 2011 @ 10:42:17

      Thank you Emily! I am learning alot about pain and the fear we all have about feeling it. But, truthfully, pain is a part of life. And I think we’d all be better served by just feeling it rather than running from it or finding ways to ‘deal with it’. Just feel it…that’s all 🙂


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