You’re Not Supposed to Endure Pain as a Woman

Growing up with an unavailable father who made me feel abandoned, I internalised the narrative that no one would stay with me and I would eventually be heartbroken. Pain felt familiar, and my only remedy was self-pity.

To break out of this self-destructive mindset and have a chance at a healthy and happy life, I had to stop dating altogether, commit to therapy, and put a lot of effort into my daily life to not slip into my old thinking patterns.

Luckily, I had many supportive women around me whom I could learn from.

One of my best friends was one of them.

We have a similar background but her childhood was even more turbulent than mine. Yet, she always strikes me as someone who has high self-esteem and has done excellently for herself (She’s happily married with a business of her own.)

Back then, as I was crawling out of my rock bottom, she told me something I’d never forget: “Do anything to make sure you’re not miserable.”

Her strategy is simple: She chooses the opposite of pain. It doesn’t matter what life throws at her, she’d make decisions to make herself happy. And it has served her very well.

A long-term relationship broke down? Unlike most people who go back and forth with their exes, she blocked hers immediately and prioritised healing and moving on. It’s not that she wasn’t missing him or didn’t need closure; she just knew that it wasn’t important anymore. So, she acted on it for her own sake.

It probably helped that she was, by nature, more of a rational than an emotional person. Regardless, I admire her strength and self-perseverance. Choosing happiness was her way of taking control after all the hardship she had to face through no fault of her own.

Life’s hard enough — why making it harder?

As a woman, the world isn’t designed for you by default; you see stories and images of women like you objectified and degraded everywhere like it’s nothing; you’re constantly told to “suck it up” and gaslit into thinking endurance is some sort of virtue — why making it harder?

I know, it’s a lifetime of undoing the bullshit, but it must start from somewhere.

Even in my daily life, I have to actively remind myself that I’m not supposed to endure pain in any capacity: from little things like waxing my body hair to big things like childbirth even when my culture expects that of me.

I’m in control of my life — I can make any changes for the sake of my comfort and well-being without guilt.

“Do anything to make sure you’re not miserable.”

What it means in practice:

  • Reassess every aspect of your life. Make changes to what doesn’t work — nothing is off-limit.

  • If you notice that something doesn’t work for you as a woman, speak out about it. Raise awareness for other women. Demand changes.

  • You deserve love and happiness. YES! YOU DO!

  • Support other women in their pursuit of success.

  • Hold fiercely onto your boundaries and standards. No one gets to tell you what’s good for you and what’s not. You know it best.

  • Block that ex. You don’t have time for people who subtract value from your life.

  • Before you do anything, ask yourself: “Is this action bringing me happiness in the long run or making me more miserable?” Please choose happiness.

Parting words

I personally know a woman who plans to give birth to the second child just because her husband wants more kids even when it destroys her body and gives her no time to do anything else.

Or a woman who spends a good chunk of her days cleaning the house because her husband doesn’t want a stranger to touch their things.

It sounds ridiculous, right? But it’s more common than you and I would like to believe; sometimes it’s just sugarcoated better in the name of love, virtues, social norms, or whatever else, but ultimately it’s an attempt to control the woman and keep the status quo.

Feminism requires a lot of critical thinking and it’s not always easy to see and point out the unfairness in everyday life, but it’s worth every effort to understand it and fight for a better world. It starts with you, and it will be carried on by you through the way you live your life.

On an individual level, remember that, while there are times you’ll experience pain, you’re not supposed to endure pain. It’s not part of your identity. You deserve a good life you love. There’s enough goodness to go around.

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