Dealing With Pain: The “Hard Guy’s” Account

Dealing With Pain: The "Hard Guy's" Account

Off The Record

“Pain is inevitable.” I’m sure you might have heard this before, but what no one really talks about is how to deal with pain especially the type that arises from emotional distress. As a ‘hard guy’, you just act like all is well. Your babe just broke up with you and you’re just chilling with your guys like everything is alright, till one day, that one idiot ( there’s always one in every group) mentions her name and boom! Premium tears. 

  1. You just got rejected for an offer you’ve been preparing about for months and you chop the rejection with your chest till one day some stranger ‘misbehaves’ in one Cold Stone outlet and you’re screaming at them about how unfair life is and how they shouldn’t be judging people without even getting to know them (stranger : (confused) but hanty, I only said that it’s alcoholics that take the Bailey’s flavour of icecream nau). For real though, it’s crazy. 


I think one of the scariest episodes of the ‘hard guy’ is trying to ‘chest’ the loss of a loved one. You hear the news, you take it quietly. You just go from the stage zero of the stages of grief to stage five, boom, acceptance. Howww? Others are crying, trying to kill themselves, screaming why?!! But not you. Someone has to be sane enough to do what needs to be done, burial arrangements have to be made, He giveth and he taketh, death is a process of life, shit happens, this that, that this. You’re being logical about the situation (as e suppose be). But in all your analysis, there is no time for grieving, not a single tear is shed, no lamentation calls to anybody at 2 a.m. (this is usually the prime time), no nothing. Till one day, you’ll just be jejely minding your business and something hits you strongly. You feel like your chest is going to explode as you’re clutching it and trying to breathe. You wonder if it’s a heart attack but you’re too young for that so o wrong nau. The pain is so strong that you feel you’re going to pass out (but your mind hasn’t even been invited to the party, so, chill). Memories start flooding your head. Coulda, woulda, shoulda situations start coming to life; you’re seeing things that could have happened differently if this person were alive. The pain is unearthly.

Should we talk about heartbreak? In the Association of Emotional Distress Causative Agents, I feel this one holds a chieftaincy title.

Normal humans after breakups: go through the five stages of grief sequentially; 

  • Denial: Nah, I’m sure they’ll come to their senses at some point. We probably just need some space, nothing serious. 
  • Anger: But why? How dare they? A whole spec like me?! For what?!
  • Bargaining: (calls partner) but we can still fix this, can’t we? (calls partner’s friends) please help me talk to your friend. (calls partner’s family) ejo, abeg, bikonu, help me talk to your sister/brother. (calls partner) what do you want  me to do differently? Anything you want I’d do. Just please give us another chance. 

Depression: (talking to friend)I don’t know what to do with my life anymore. (Does not enjoy hanging out so much anymore, haunted by memories of places and things done, throws self into work and everything that can occupy the mind, finds it difficult to sleep, hot tears on most nights).

  • Acceptance: (talking to self) It is what it is. I have to find a way to live with this.

And this is how they start their healing process after a period of mentally processing their grief. These kinds of people usually heal faster and better than most who don’t go through any grieving process. Let’s look at another group, ‘The hard guys’.

Hard guys after breakups [inserts a long leg stretching from the start point of a racing track, over hurdles, and touching the finish line].

  •  (talking to partner) if you’re sure that’s what you really want then it’s fine.
  • Acceptance

Friend: how far that your baby nau?

Hard guy: Omo, we’re not together anymore o.

Friend: Wetin happen na? When?

Hard guy: tch… Breakup na. Tch… It’s been a week now.

Friend: (shocked) Oh my God. Are you alright?

Hard guy: (chuckles) wetin man go do now?

Friend: (chuckles nervously) abi? Hope say you dey alright sha?

Hard guy: (smiles) I dey jare.

Me: (inserts sad human noises).

See, no matter which category you fall under (especially you that you’re a hard guy by default and not by choice) just gather together this is for all of us. There is no formula for dealing with pain per se, but here are some things to understand.

  1. Let it out: if you feel like crying, by all means fill a bucket or two. If you want to rant, phone a friend (this is what they signed up for). You want to punch something? Stroll into a boxing academy. Angry? Take a run. Let your S Health app be in shock (Samsung users sho get?). If you think you need professional help, see a psychologist. Whatever you do, don’t keep it in. Cry it out, punch it out, talk it out, run it out, just something it out.
  2. Find a closure for yourself: Now this might be tough especially if it’s something beyond your understanding like the death of a loved one or a situation where you are not opportuned to hear the other side of the story so you can get an answer to your why. But you need to make peace with what has happened so you can begin your healing process. Imagine that situation as an episode or season of a series, or a chapter of a book. You have to finish it and step out of it in order to fully concentrate on and enjoy the next episode or season or the next chapter. It’s called a closure because you really need to close it to continue (If you’ve not made peace with how GOT Season 8 ended then I’m also talking to you). 
  3. Don’t be too hard on yourself: it’s okay if you’re not as attentive as you used to be, or as quick, or as bouncy and full of life. It’s okay if on some nights, you stay up cashing in your badlucks (Fun right there… if you get this reference, I feel you). It’s still okay if after two months of progressive healing, one text, one word, one mention and London bridge comes tumbling down. Don’t be mad at yourself for your own self-expectations. You never know how deeply you were hurt until it’s time to heal. So please, be calming down.
  4.  Re-discover You: I understand if you feel that you know all there is to know about your likes and dislikes but don’t throw away the opportunity to learn more about you. With each experience comes an additional version of you, you should understand that version. I have met writers who were born out of pain, poets who came from grief, athletes who jumped out of depression, artists who were driven by anger, etc. But what is common to all of these people is that prior to their experience they never considered any of their ventures a career path but through harnessing the power of their emotions, they are able to produce, create or reform the standards. So don’t be complacent about who you are after pain.

Enjoy Life: As basic as this may sound, it is one very tough instruction to adhere to. It’s natural to want to do so much today so tomorrow will be better but we often fail to remember that today may be our tomorrow and the tomorrow we’re planning for may never come. Do little things that make life better for you, be kind, go on dates, hangout with friends, spend time with your loved ones, do the things you love (which do not hurt anyone and are not against the law. Yes, please). My saying for the year remains, TRY TO DEY ENJOY LIFE, PROBLEM NO DEY FINISH.

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What do you think?

  1. This is an interesting piece. You write so well; beautiful I must say. I just pray I can drop the hard guy mentality one day.

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