Yin, Yang and the Purpose of Heartache

Sometimes you need your world rocked to make a change in life. You NEED your soul shredded. You NEED your heart ripped out and kicked around a bit. I mean straight molly-whopped, ice jawed, Alaskan roofied, dirty Pabloed, naked through the briar patch, vajewjew schnockered rocked.

I’m often asked how I keep my positive mojo running. I contemplate this from time to time. I can attribute it to a few things, like experiences, practices, and routine self check-ins. But I would also give MASS credit to my translations of the times my heart has been kicked around. I get hurt like anyone. I struggle like anyone. I have shit days like anyone. But through a lot of hard work and determination, I am HARDCORE committed to a legit “no regrets” mentality.


I will tell you the story of my virgin experience as an ER nurse. When I took my first official ER position, I had no idea that my preceptor would be the one whose position I would be taking, and she wasn’t happy about it. Hell, I wouldn’t have been happy either. Apparently they were phasing  LPN’s out of critical care, who in my humble opinion were true road warriors in the medical field. At any rate, RN’s were becoming the market standard, and here she was, precepting this snot-nosed rookie who was taking her place.

My preceptor was brutal. She dropped kicked my terrorized ass into more “fuck me” situations than I can count, like some fresh chicken nugget dropped into a swarm of rabid, hypoglycemic hyenas. Nightly. God, it was an endless scene of clueless anxiety and panic attacks. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I would later find out she was teaching me exactly what it would take to survive in the sometimes unforgiving world of emergency medicine. And looking back, I wouldn’t change it for the world. She knew what she had to do to sharpen me. Her love for teaching this chickenshit nurse how to survive was far greater than her frustration with the changing policies. And after the shit show of orientation, I found myself tied to her in the bond between emergency nurses, a true friendship. My eternal gratitude to you, Mrs. Barbara.

Over the subsequent months and years, I found myself at relative ease amongst the chaotic symphony that is trauma and emergency medicine. I worked my way into charge nurse and trauma lead positions, and I’ll never forget the lessons I learned from those hard times.

And I can say the same about losing all of my money on an all-in poker bet I knew damn well I should have folded; or drinking enough tequila to black out and damn near puke out my liver, only to be punctually greeted the morning after by the pain I was trying to numb the night before; or dragging a relationship a year past when it should have ended; or confirming I was cheated on when my intuition had thrown up big red flags months prior.

Over the years I’ve had my heart, my mind and my emotions kicked around many times, in many situations. It has taught me, through experience, that the deeper the darkness, the deeper the transformation. It’s not a matter of whether or not you’re going to hurt. You most certainly will hurt. It’s part of being human. It’s a matter of what you’re GOING TO DO with that hurt. Are you going to cling to it? Are you going to marry it? Are you going to create deep and lasting meaning out of it that will haunt you for life?


Consider this, my friends: Your experience of positivity may be directly proportional to your experience of pain. As I reported in Life Lessons With Morphine: The Beauty Of Pain, you may appreciate the light in its own right, but not like you will appreciate the light, having experienced darkness.

Hard times will strengthen you, mold you, teach you that you can face the gates of Hell, walk through the shadowed valley, confront the fear. You are IMMENSELY stronger than you think you are. Cheers.

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