No pain, no gain!

No pain – no gain has been my internal working model as long as I can remember, although I wasn’t always aware of it. If I put my mind to something, I would get it, but it would cost me pain. For all I knew, this was the way of things.

So I was pretty chocked when the therapist at a group session turned to me and said, “Anna, you know that there are other ways than pain to get you where you want to be”. How did she know that this had always been my deepest belief and I never even knew? Clearly a blind spot of mine there!

Okay, so she knew because it was her job and she was good at it. And I was relieved: there is another way! Wow! Life with less pain, here I come!

This was ten years ago. I still don’t think I have figured out any of those other ways. Maybe I have become more tolerant of myself and others. Maybe I don’t throw my whole existence into things – I try to keep my innermost self safe. But I definitely do not “play it cool” and so the no pain, no gain axiom seems to be my companion still.

I don’t know about anyone who has achieved a lot without great effort. And although great effort is not the same as a lot of pain, I imagine that those who have followed their dreams or passions have had to make sacrifices and I believe some of those would have been rather painful.


Photo: Fanni Sarkadi, Victoria market, Melbourne

So I admit: I clearly have a more desperate take on our soon leaving Melbourne than my children. Apparently, they know more about the world than their sulking mother. Our youngest one, 6.5, says he feels two things at the same time which he thinks is a bit strange, but okay: he both wants to stay with his friends and teacher here AND is eager to start as a first-grader in Sweden and play in his room.

The oldest one is even more sophisticated and says she is ambivalent – she has made so many friends here and knows the best bargains in town, but has really missed her best friends from home as well as her music and is looking forward to those things, but not the weather. Not bad from kids when people spend years in dialectic behaviour therapy to accept conflicting feelings as a normal part of life.

Our younger daughter (11) is also beyond her mother in development: she has developed object constancy (most 18-months-olds have) and knows that just because she won’t see her Aussie friends for some time they do not actually disappear. Whereas I behave as if everything that matters here would just be blown away at the bursts of the jet motors soon lifting us up in the air.

So while I sulk I try to tell myself: no pain – no gain, remember? For all the wonderful gains I have had during my sabbatical here, it is now time to cash in the pain.

During my walk today I really did try and consider some other possible ways that allegedly exist. But to no avail. All that happened was that I ended up asking myself: Why did we have to do this in the first place? I hate change! My temperament likes predictability, I am not especially tolerant to the stresses of packing and moving, and I hate the idea of changing seasons to opposites. Especially when it means going to cold and dark from warm and light.

It would be nice to finish on a more hopeful note, but hey, guess what I felt when my group gave me a signed photo of themselves to take with me on my journey when I left Sweden in August? And I really didn’t want to leave and asked myself why on Earth we wanted to do this in the first place…

So I listen to Hey Jude played at the Monserrat concert finale by Paul McCartney himself:

For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder…

I remind myself that “playing it hot” costs and roll with the punch.

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