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  • Writer's pictureSteve Szakal

Time and Pain

A few weeks ago I was invited to be a guest on the Running Times Podcast. If you are reading this you most likely listened to it already so I won't speak on my story. I am going to write about the response to it.

I haven't listened to the finish product and I don't know if I ever will. I honestly don't even know what I said. I was asked about my story and I just let it rip. I was physically exhausted after it and my first thought driving home was I most likely sounded like a total moron. The episode came out 8 days after I recorded it. Two days after I texted Gagz and asked him if its normal to think I may have sounded like a total asshole. That's normal and "It's great" he said.

Every day leading up to the release I didn't sleep. My mind was racing and I wrote out the text telling him to delete the whole thing. It took my whole being to not hit send. I'm really glad I didn't.

I started getting messages about 8am that morning. And the messages have kept coming 3 weeks later. The last three weeks have been a whirlwind. People reached out to me that I haven't seen in 25 years. There are mothers and grandmothers in Scranton who now know what a "podcast" is. To be honest I didn't think 20 people would listen to this. Gagz told me it was his most downloaded episode in the shortest amount of time.

In my own mind I have normalized my story. I think evolution has instilled in humans the ability to put tragedy, sadness, pain and misery into small little boxes in our brains. We have had to deal with these emotions for millions of years. If we just gave up with adversity our species would cease to exist. It's our ability to overcome tragedy and unite as a group that has sustained us.

There is something about hearing a story about someone's pain that resonates with people. It might remind them of a painful moment in their life. A moment so sad you think you will never be happy or normal again. Moments that are so sad you feel like the tears will never end. You heart will never stop hurting. Moments when you are alone and you are forced to deal with the weight of the world on your own. The pain that no one knows but you. A lot of mothers told me they cried as they listened because they imagined that it could of been their child who went though what I did. I got messages from people who also spent time in prison and thanked me for letting people know exactly what happens when you strip people of their dignity. I had people cry in my arms because it reminded them of a painful moment in their life, like losing a child or getting diagnosed with cancer. We all know that people go though terrible things but sometimes it comforts us when we hear a story of pain and redemption.

After all these years I can finally say I feel whole. You never lose the scars that tragedy leaves behind but those scars are a source of strength. The demons of the past never go away, they hide deep in your soul. You are a human being. Take comfort in knowing that for millions of years we have endured, and the resiliency of the human spirit is strong enough to power the sun.


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