What happens when you pause?

Sometimes, you start to feel the pain.

Let me share a story first and explain.

In my sophomore year, I was playing Turkeybowl (flag football with my church). It was the semi final and we were at a close game. I played cornerback (my favorite) and in one play… gosh — I remember I tried to grab the girl’s flag, but as I reached out, she charged forward and I felt my middle finger snap in a way that I knew was just wrong. I was too scared to look at it, but out of instinct I used my other hand to snap my “finger back” and I continued to play. I kept going, but after a couple more plays, I told my coach I need to go out. He had no idea I was injured so I showed him my finger and he told me to sit out and that it just looked swollen. I got it wrapped up and I just sat out till the end of the game (we didn’t win by the way, sigh).

I went back to the dorms and man, my finger was FAT and throbbing. My roommate who was a nursing major wrapped it and used chopsticks as a brace, just for that night. The next day I bought a finger brace. I wasn’t sure if my finger was just sprained or broken! I had everyone vote and there was a 60/40 vote. Most people thought there was no way I broke it! Or else, I would know.

But long story short — I didn’t go to the doctor’s to check until my good friend was straightforward with me and said “Ellie. Look at your finger. That is not normal. Go to the doctors.” So after 3 weeks, I finally went.

At the hospital, they took my x rays. I waited for the doctor to come in and he showed my x rays and told me “Your finger is fractured and you ripped your tendon.” Then he asked me when this happened and I told him “3 weeks ago” and he said “3 weeks ago?? You’re crazy! You have a high pain tolerance. I don’t know what to do… because you came so late after the injury, it’s already healed incorrectly. I have to go out and make a phone call… I’ll be back.” I was so shocked and wanted to laugh because I was so baffled. My doctor was so pissed in a caring way (?) and I never would have thought my finger was fractured and my tendon was ripped… I thought it was just a sprain!

He called me a tough cookie and I’m glad he made me aware that I have a high pain tolerance. Throughout college, I learned that I have a high tolerance not just in physical pain, but emotional as well.

Maybe you also have a high emotional pain tolerance. This is neither good or bad. But I think it is important to know this about yourself so you can be wise and smart about navigating different situations.

There’s a lot of sub conversations to the topic of “high pain tolerance” but for this post, I just want to address “What happens when you pause?” I’m sure some of you have stories when you accidentally cut your finger and you don’t notice the pain until you pause and see the blood.

I think many of us are caught up in the busy culture, gogogo, one thing after another and once you do get a moment of silence in your room — you can feel a tornado or a sense of chaos in you. If you’re honest to yourself, you feel lonely. You feel unhappy. You feel empty. You could feel a mix of emotions just flooding or maybe you’re even numb. You might feel crazy.

Just like when you’re playing a sport and you get physically hurt, you barely feel the pain because you’re running off of adrenaline. But when you stop and pause, you start to feel the pain and it hurts.

Some of us knowingly or un-knowingly have been running off of adrenaline. So when you pause and I mean, really take the time to rest, it makes sense if you start to feel pain. It can be confusing. “I don’t know why I feel this way. Nothing happened.” But it makes sense. You may be experiencing unattended, residue pain or “post stress” that’s always been there, but just noticed now.

Reminder: you are mind, soul and body. A lot of times, emotional pain and stress manifests physically. Listen to your body. What is it telling you? What does it need? Investigate because your body is giving you insight of what’s happening within.

If you are feeling stress in your body while you’re resting, you may be confused or frustrated. “I’m resting! But why does resting not feeling like resting?” Well one of the reasons may simply be that you have been injured, but the adrenaline of your busy life was what kept you going. You thought you were okay. But when the adrenaline went away, you realized you are fatigued or even injured.

Just like when I fractured my finger and ripped off the tendon and went unchecked for 3 weeks, the finger healed incorrectly and called for a more intense surgery. Sure, I could have left my injured finger alone and it would have “healed” in time, but it would have its distortions and limitations that will affect my long-term. Some of us have past pains and hurts that have gone unattended and possibly “healed” in a temporary or insufficient way. In a figurative sense, some of us need surgery for our souls — deep inner work and healing. Not just bandaids or ice cream visits.

I encourage you, no more short cuts or quick fixes. No more ignoring that you are hurt. I pray that you would have courage to name the pain. And have the “better safe than sorry” mentality to check yourself and ask for help. You may feel as if the problem is small…but if the stress or pain is repetitive or cyclical, please consult with someone you trust to walk with you and if it’s more intense, consider counseling / therapy. *Everyone and anyone should do therapy. (Side note: Some of us have “learned helplessness” and are so used to feeling pain, that we have completely adapted to it. “Getting help” may feel distant or feel non existent for your reality, but that’s not reality. I promise, you can get help. It will take time and hard work, but you can get there).

And you know, many of us have the understanding of humility wrong.

Humility is radical self-awareness.

So to those who are busy, caught up and/or spend no time to yourself or don’t know how… Just know that you have a God who loves you deeply. He sees you and your pain. Knows all of you and loves you. Sit in that reality. And I wonder… How can we better reflect and love ourselves the way God loves us? It takes baby steps. Be practical too.

To my busy friends out there, please take the time to pause. To breathe. To just be. To rest. And if you start to feel the unrest inside of you and maybe even physical pain or illness, your body is trying to protect you. It might not make sense why you feel this way, but that’s okay. Maybe it’s your body telling you that you need rest and all you need to do is be present with yourself.

Maybe I stated the obvious, but I know when I am in a hurry — I am so caught up with what’s in front of me, I can lose myself.

Disclaimer: There’s a constructive and healthy way of distracting yourself (being with friends, watching Netflix, going outside, etc.), but at some point, you must feel to heal.

So if you’re in a hurry and reading this, I hope things brings some sense to you. You make sense. If you’re well, may this be a reminder to continue to pause, embrace how you feel and check your needs. Take care of yourself : ) #mindsoulbody

*More blogs on burnout & holistic self-care will come soon



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Ellie Kim

About me: Recovering from people pleasing, burnout, codependency, religion & perfectionism. This is my story & you’re welcome to join me in my life processes.