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Boundaries to Pain

February 4
by
Monika Ammerman
in
Overcoming Challenges
with
.

Do you know why people hug when they are in pain? To place a boundary on the suffering. To draw a line where the pain can extend to. Without such a line, one’s agony will push out and is inherently less controllable. I have only experienced this type of embrace once in my life.


As a high schooler, I arrived to school each day before any student and most teachers. This was so I could spend time with one instructor in particular. Every morning, without ever formally communicating with one another, we knew we would both be there. Before even the sun. After having multiple classes with this teacher throughout my high school career, he became a mentor as well as instructor. A friend.

Shortly after the holidays of my senior year, I receive word. The sort of word one does not wish to receive. The sort of word I never heard before. A panic ensued within me, spread from the tips of my fingers to the tips of my toes. It’s the same panic I feel in my hands as I type now, years later.

I knew he was suffering. I did not know, however, just how bad.

Immediately following my panic came my guilt. This was a kind of a guilt that was previously unknown to my body. Standing in the middle of a Chick-Fil-A, just after hearing the news, my guilt buckled me over and I grabbed my gut. It was at this point that I could feel my discomfort and pain reaching out in all directions, uncontrollable.

Rushing home, I told my mother the news. It was then that she held me. Held me together in one piece. She drew the line for my pain. I listened intently as she explained to me that there is devastation in the world that is difficult, if not impossible, to comprehend.

She advised me to not be angry, because there is no sense in focusing on the past or placing blame. Guilt is useless in some scenarios.

There will always be evil, she went on, but the good in the world is the remedy. The good in the world is how you cope with the pain.

After a while, the conversation came to an end. Her words were of comfort. And what remains with me years later is simply the feel of her arms holding me. Not allowing me to crumble. Placing a limit to how much sadness I could feel in those moments.

However, my mother was only able to help me back up. She did not do it single-handedly nor unilaterally. This is where one’s own independence and sentience is the final step to picking oneself up, because people cannot help those who do not wish to help themselves.


It was the combination of my own acceptance and strength working in tandem with my mother’s love that allowed me to move on and limit the guilt I feel on this 3rd anniversary of one of my closest friend’s suicide.

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