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“I couldn’t help but notice your Pain…. It runs deep, share it with me.” -Tupac Shakur, “Pain”

What is Pain? Seems to be a straight up question, but can you describe it?

I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time now, and I am still hung up. How does one interpret their own pain, hurt, sorrow, despair, and frustrations, and then successfully relay that information to their loved ones? I don’t fucking know, and one look into my past relationships attests to this fact.

You see, I’m stuck when it comes to conveying my feelings to other people who are engaged in day to day life with me. But, yet, I’m strangely comfortable sharing these same emotions with you, the random reader. As you can imagine, this has wreaked havoc on my personal life, again, take a look.

The very people I should be opening up to and working with to build a better life, are the very ones I am keeping at arms length, who I don’t share with, and who I can’t relate to. This, despite their unending, tender advances of love, concern and care. I’m crying as I type this. I feel it. Heavy.

I want to embrace them. I want to soften myself so that I can be there for them like they need me to be. I desperately want to throw myself at their feet and beg for their forgiveness. I want to hug and kiss them and let them know how much I’ve missed them. But I can’t. I’m stuck.

They’re right there. I can see them, I can smell their familiar scents. I can hear them laughing, crying, calling out in vain. They don’t know that I’m still here, that I still am trying to make it back to them. I’m being suffocated and tortured within myself, and the torment keeps me engaged with an ever present enemy.

An enemy I can’t expose them to. An enemy I brought home with me, that has been fostering itself in the pit of my soul since birth. They can’t know. So I have to hide it, and suppress this evil. “They’ll hurt you. They don’t believe in you. They want you to fail. They just want you to open up to them so that they can use that information against you later, don’t trust them. Fuck these motherfuckers, fuck them all.” So I push everyone away, which only serves to compound my feelings of guilt and shame.

As time has passed, I have learned to live with and embrace this cold, calloused approach to personal relationships. Self preservation depends on it, you see. From my earliest memories of my Father and Mother going at it in the kitchen, getting locked in the closet while they fight; to running the streets of Tucson as a young delinquent, fighting in Baghdad, navigating academia, and engaging our political system.

Those thoughts aren’t always wrong. In fact, they’re scary accurate sometimes. But not when it comes to my family. My friends. My spouse. If anything, they should be my refuge. My safe place to retreat and regroup. That, obviously, is not the case. Actually, I think I’ve become even colder to these people, more critical. Too critical.

How does one knowingly corrupt something beautiful, like the love of a spouse? How is it that you go about tearing down the facade they’ve been living behind, exposing the reality of our shared situation? How do you tell them about the wolves at the door?

Unfortunately for me, it comes in the form of overreacting. When I’m scared, or feeling insecure I “protect” myself by getting extremely violent, stringing together profanities in ways you’ve never thought of or imagined them being used. Emotional Pain for me is worse than physical, I’d much rather you hit me over the head with a 2×4. As a result, my unhealthy coping mechanism has been to maintain a protective “FUCK YOU” shield around me at all times. I’m in constant “GO” mode. Wired tight.


As I stated earlier. I’ve been struggling with this for some time now. As you can imagine, this style of communication is not conducive to a healthy dialogue, or end result. Be that as it may, it hasn’t seemed to stop me from continuing this self-defeating behavior.

Every day is a struggle. And believe me, the struggle is real.

This week’s therapy session is going to be intense.

About the Author

Ricardo Pereyda

Ricardo Pereyda

Calling for federal & state cannabis law and public health reform, Ricardo is an outspoken veteran advocating for access to cannabis within the Veterans Health Administration. He is a senior producer for #illegallyhealed