Ripples #994: Sharing Pain

Ripples #994: Sharing Pain.
June 11, 2018


When you are in the midst of a fog and can’t see the shoreline, you need a compass because we are not hard-wired to go it alone. We need others to survive and thrive.
-Edward T. Creagan (adapted), shared by Donna, in Owings, MD


When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.
-Henri Nouwen, via


This week I enjoyed a quick trip to Wisconsin to fire up a group of nonprofit leaders at a remarkable event called Enterprising Nonprofits that was sponsored and coordinated by my pals at First Business Bank. The timing of their event created an opportunity to zip over and say a quick hello to my pals at Wisconsin Leadership Seminars before rushing back to the airport for the trip home.

In the midst of my travels, I learned on the news about two celebrities who died by suicide. I’ve learned from several knowledgeable sources that it is wiser to avoid glamorizing suicide by focusing on details. Still, I wanted to recognize the pain people I care about might be experiencing and also acknowledge the darkness that has occasionally been a part of my life.

I wrote a longer Facebook post that you are welcome to read even if you’re not active on social media. Besides that note, I’ll share here that when I was younger and my own strength and courage was not sufficient, the support of trained professionals and a few key family members and friends helped me make it to today. And make no mistake: it was SHOWING UP that mattered far more than what they SAID. Showing up, staying present, and listening to my story. They held me, they heard me, and they believed me. The hardy members of Team Paulie demonstrated that hope exists and is worth clinging to even (especially) in the darkest of times.

Over the weekend I came across a collection of “16 Tweets to Read if you’re Struggling”:

This one stood out: “Once in the midst of a major depression, I was crying (I thought softly) to myself on the F train; it was crowded. Someone, as they got off, stuck a pack of tissues under my nose. That person kept me going another day.”

It reminded me that sharing pain does not extend it; instead, it helps to define and diminish the hurt. Sharing pain promotes healing, and reminds us of our common humanity. If you’re in pain right now, I hope you can summon just enough courage to tell someone about it (you can even reply to this email and tell me). If you’re not in pain, we’re counting on you to keep your eyes and ears open for someone around you who is. You could save a life, and you’ll definitely improve your own.

The Ripples Guy

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