Thankful for pain

The pie was out, the turkey was in, stuffing slow cooking. Two kids happily playing minecraft, one napping, home alone 2 playing on the TV. It was peaceful. But even in that stereotypical moment, I was struck by the pain permeating through my body. This is the first Thanksgiving solo. The first time where I was the lone chef. The turkey was probably over done, the pie, under done. The broccoli was a far cry from what I’m used to, and the stuffing was obviously made from a box. But it wasn’t about the food. It was shame. Shame that I have let my life come to this point. Shame that on Thanksgiving, when I could be thankful for so many things, it is the mountain of regret that screams at me for attention. How does one even begin to deal with that? I didn’t. In typical 7 fashion, I slapped on my happy face, took some nice pictures, made it through dinner, enjoyed some eggnog with whiskey, got the kids to bed, and now here I am, with you. Over the last year especially there have been some dramatically painful moments. They’ve all come and gone without my death. Although at points, I wish that were not so. Now as I sit and reflect on where things are in my life, and today in particular, what is it that I can be thankful for?

There really are a great many things. I have never been starving, or without a bed to sleep in. I see my kids often, not as often as I’d like, but often nonetheless. I have a good job, enough to provide for my family. But what truly struck me, I’m thankful for the pain. two years ago, I was so deeply entrenched in an internal battle, that no one knew about. I was living recklessly and chaos reined. I had run so deeply and so hard from everything painful in my life. I embraced whatever it was I thought I wanted. Chased every feeling, every thought. Utter insanity. Then, pain. The absolute collapse of life. Entering recovery, I began to uncover so much deeply rooted pain, it was hard to see that there would ever be an end to it. So why thankful? How could I possibly find a reason to be thankful now? But the hard reality is, without that pain, I would never have changed. Oh I suppose at some point I would have been too old to continue the same way, but the root causes would all still be firmly entrenched and I would fight the battles for the rest of my life. It’s hard to admit, and hard to be thankful, but I needed the pain. To shake me, wake me from my chaos. Draw me out of the raging internal darkness and into the light. I never wanted to be here, flying solo on Thanksgiving, cooking all the food, and being the only parent. But here it is. And here I am. Thankful that I have people around me walking with me up the mountain. One of the things I really wanted to say on the podcast, is that the only way out is through. It’s ok to be in pain. It sucks, don’t get me wrong. Its hard, ugly, and brutal. But its ok to be there. Because without it, I don’t believe we would have the capacity, and frankly the will to change. No matter what the hurt in your life, you MUST go THROUGH it to heal from it. I consistently get asked, “how do I get over that?” or “how do I get past this?” And the reality, sad as it may be, you don’t. You must go through the darkness to come out into the light. So on this Thanksgiving, I am so very thankful for family, friends, and great food. But I can truly say, thank you for the pain. Carry on my friends.


  1. J and C Waugaman

    Ben…..Joel and I are very Thankful for the friendship we have. We are proud of you for acknowledging the pain and speaking about it truthfully. We love you!!

  2. Mom

    It was impressive. Dinner was delicious. The boys dressed up. All of us sitting at the table for the first time in I don’t remember how long. There were things I longed to say and share. Days are difficult in life right now but I know they won’t last forever. I long for you to be family again. And pray. I love you!

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