How Many Times Can a Story of Pain be Told Before No One Wants to Listen?

I wrote this today because I feel this unspoken rule in our world that after we have told our story of suffering and pain once or twice we are not supposed to speak it again. I feel this unspoken rule that, after a time, we are supposed to become silent and simply bear with the pain without a word, without a complaint because that would certainly infringe on the comfort of those around us. No one wants to feel like a broken record, mostly because the world has said they don’t want to hear broken records. But when our lives are filled with unending suffering, I am not sure silence is possible, and even if it was, I don’t believe it is the best option. And so I wrote this for all who feel silenced in their pain. 

When the pain comes in unrelenting waves.

When there is no end in sight and you cannot even remember the beginning and you begin to wonder, “how many times am I allowed to speak this pain before no one wants to hear it again?”

When the pain doesn’t stop, and the world won’t stop for you.

When today is just as hard as every day before, when today is no different than last year, than last decade.

When the world doesn’t want to hear about the flares and the relapses because you always flare and you always relapse.

When you look for that one who will listen but can’t find anyone outside the sterile walls of a 100 dollar session. When you never realized that speaking isn’t free and listeners always charge.

When you hope for the redemption, but the redemption is not yet. When you know the redemption will come in the end, but no one has taught you how to live out this messy neverending middle. When you tell your not-yet-redeemed story and the world asks why the redemption is taking so long.

When you realize that people only show up when it is convenient, and this life of chronic pain is never convenient.

When your story has become so normal and repetitive and the same old same old same old painful news over and over again.

When an unspoken rule screams in your ears, “you have told this story before, and no one wants to hear it again.”

How many times must a story be told before the story is done and the story is healed? Once? Twice? A thousand or more?

How many times can a story of pain be told before no one wants to listen? Once? Perhaps twice? Three if you pay.

The numbers never seem to add up.

When the volume of pain and magnitude of words exceeds the listening ears and the longsuffering patience of those who bear beside us.

“Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”

Because when the world tells me to be quiet, I will only speak louder.

Because I have learned that there is no limit to how many times each story must be told, and sometimes you have to speak even if no one will listen.

Because this pain screams to be heard even if no one is around to hear.

Because I am not my pain and my pain is not me, but we are bound together with indelible ties of flesh and blood, sinew and bone.

Because I don’t have to be convenient to be worthy of friendship.

Because this pain is not leaving, and I have no choice but to stay.

Because sometimes that not-yet-redemption is so far away that there is no choice but to figure out how to be ok in the now, with the pain, speaking the pain, feeling and knowing the pain.

I will speak out this pain and I will not be silent, because this pain screams to be heard, and who can deny its wishes?


  1. Wonderfully written. I often feel like the next time I say I can’t take the pain anymore may be the last time they listen. I’m very fortunate for a husband and kids who seem to never weary of the story. But friends….. that’s the hard one.

    1. I also have people who listen to me over and over again. So thankful for that! And agreed about friends – hard to keep having these conversations without feeling like I’m complaining and they are tired of hearing it.

      1. It’s important to learn who can handle more details and who we need to keep things a bit more surface level with. Our deepest relationships can handle the deeper disclosures of our condition. 🙂

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