I’m Messed Up And Proud. Who’s With Me?

Many moons ago Fionnuala and I got married. One morning shortly before the big day I woke up with a crick in my neck. I thought little of it, assuming I had slept in an awkward position. But it continued to ache and niggle in the coming days despite how much I stretched and manipulated it. I swallowed paracetamol but might as well have been taking M&M’s for all the good they did. Come our wedding day the crick was still there.

And so it was. Fionnuala married a pain in the neck….with a pain in the neck.

Have you ever cracked your neck? There are few more satisfying sensations in the known universe. Over the coming weeks and months I developed my neck cracking technique down to a fine art but to no avail. The pain persisted and months became years. I learned to cope with the pain. It was rarely agony, more annoying. It just became part of the ‘Being Stephen’ experience. OCD? Check. Binge drinking? Check. Always complaining about his sore neck but never doing anything about it? Yup that’s me.

On the grand scale of all things pain it was fairly low down the scale. It wasn’t chronic, debilitating or life changing. But it was my pain and therefore it was important to me. I lived with it, I knew it inside out and I bored anyone stupid enough to ask me about it to within an inch of their lives. You’ve heard of Becky with the good hair. I became Stephen with the sore neck. It defined me. Until it wasn’t there any more. One day it was gone just like that. Without any explanation. Those of you thinking it was all in my head are free to stop reading any time now.

Until this week. The pain is back. In exactly the same place. I’m popping and cracking like cray cray again. Fionnuala is delighted. I made that last sentence up. Go and see a doctor? Don’t be so ridiculous. What would I write about then. I have a sore neck and you are all just going to have to get used to that. Until it decides to go away again. Anybody with a sore neck feel free to enter into lengthy correspondence with me. For I get what you’re going through. We can set up an online support group. Perhaps get some counselling. For I know your pain.

I know your pain.

We hear that phrase a lot. It’s misleading of course. Everybody’s pain is individual and unique to them. I cannot fully understand your pain just like I cannot fully understand what it is like to be a pterodactyl. Although I’m fairly certain that would be a pretty cool experience swooping from cliff tops and all that. But anyway I digress. Back to the pain thang. I cannot fully relate to another person’s neck pain but I’m probably more qualified to do so than most. I don’t know what you are going through but I can empathise. Which is part of the reason this blog was started. I want to be your pain killer. Or at the very least your pain partner.

I’m a screw up, a walking disaster, a deeply flawed and feeble individual. I’ve spent most of my life making poor choices and inflicting pain on myself and others. But no more. This blog arose like a phoenix from the ashes of my messed up life. It was forged in my pain. I know that sounds a bit dramatic there but bear with me. I know what it’s like to mess up. Repeatedly. It has been largely self inflicted and I’ve learnt the hard way but I’m confident it was a reason. It was part of my apprenticeship, my on the job training. I was being prepared for this. I see that now. There was hope in my hopelessness.

The world needs more messed up people. People honest enough to stand up and be counted. People who are willing to expose their own inadequacies in order to help others in similar situations. People who don’t hide behind fake smiles and ‘I’m fine’ platitudes. I’m not fine but I’m fine with that. And I’m fine with helping others in any way that I can even if it’s just to let them know that they’re not alone. Pain can be restricting. Just watch me try to turn my head 45 degrees if you want proof of that. But it can also be liberating.

Pain can lead to freedom. It creates character, self awareness and fortitude. It opens doors to new experiences and new relationships. It strips back the layers of pride and selfishness and allows you to excavate your true personality. It allows you to discover who you are meant to be. It is revelatory and revolutionary. If it wasn’t for the pain of my past I wouldn’t be writing these words today. And you wouldn’t be reading them. We would never have known each other existed. And connecting with you is worth all the pain in the world.

I’m messed up and proud. Who’s with me?

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

88 thoughts on “I’m Messed Up And Proud. Who’s With Me?

  1. When I get stressed, I find my neck (usually the right side) starts to tighten and there is nothing I can do to stop it getting tighter and then boom, a stiff neck. Mobility goes, I look like herman munster as i cannot move my head without moving the whole of the top half of my body. Pain killers do nothing, it is just a matter of time (days) before it slowly disappears. I have such a low pain threshold so everyone gets to hear about my pain in the neck and i become a pain in the ass! Ian

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Try a chiropractor. Back in mid December one of my rib heads popped out of its socket. Hurt like hell kept me out of work for five weeks! 😣


  3. What you wrote resonated inside me! So very true.
    I liked this especially:
    “We would never have known each other existed. And connecting with you is worth all the pain in the world.”
    It is through the pain that we are able to forge deeper and more realistic relationships with others.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. “This blog arose like a phoenix from the ashes of my messed up life. It was forged in my pain.” That doesn’t sound dramatic to me, but realistic, because that’s my experience too. If my life had been a walk in the park, I’d have had little to write about that’s meaningful. Through pain, we learn how to experience gratitude when pain is absent. When we are not in physical or mental pain, when we are not hungry, when we are not homeless, when we are not struggling with addiction. We learn how to appreciate simple life itself. We know that as we get older, there will be more pain. Even if we have our lives in order and live mindfully, our bodies will continue to disintegrate. Pain is a normal part of life. As a society, we seem to have forgotten that, and I am one of those who sought to suppress pain using alcohol and pills, thus creating more pain for myself and others. We need to teach children from primary school that pain is something to be expected, how to talk about it and how to sit with it. These are things I am only learning and practising now and I want younger generations to avoid lives of addiction in attempting to suppress their pain. As for the neck ache, you could try co-codamol but it’s, er, addictive…

    Liked by 5 people

  5. I can associate with why your blog started. Mine started when I started cancer treatment, both of them! And I have made so many wonderful friends here. Thanks for being one of them!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The few. The proud. The totally messed up! Sign me up!
    Seriously, though, get the neck looked at. My boyfriend spent four years with neck pain. It turned out to be a herniated disc and was life threatening by the time they operated. Not to scare you but an x-ray couldn’t hurt.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I heard a line on a writing podcast about pain, asking if pain begets beauty and if all writers must experience pain to create. I’m not sure about that, but I think the pain can transform our writing. It’s also God’s way of molding us to who He wants us to be. In our pain, we often have nothing else to cling to, so we go to Him, who we should be going to in the first place. He can use that pain for His purpose.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I started reading Job a while ago, and I thought it was a pretty easy read being the Bible (I always find the Bible difficult to get through). But it felt oddly relatable. I’ll have to get back to that scripture.


  8. This blog arose like a phoenix from the ashes of my messed up life. It was forged in my pain — I can relate to that but you have to also ask yourself, perhaps all your life you never had a way to appreciate and understand your true nature and calling – perhaps you were a writer all along but never believed in yourself enough to trust your talent. Your poor choices were you fighting with yourself. We understand life in hindsight – that is the paradox of living life forward. You found yourself at the time that you were meant to and you are a better person because of it. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I had the WORST neck pain ever yesterday. I have proof: I lamented to a friend through text I wanted to chop off my head. I eventually took 200mg ibuprofen and poof. What pain?

    But knowing you’ve been dealing for years.. yeah, if the ibu hadn’t worked, there’d be a bloody mess.


  10. This reminds me of the song Believer by Imagine Dragons. Like the saying goes, “I learn more from being in pain than being happy.” Well said.


  11. Beautifully written and struck a cord. Honestly, I’m a mess and proud of who I am. This post is giving me the confidence to welcome my messes and learn from them. Just too forgive myself, God does and did! I’m good enough, and I continue to revolve. Thanks!


  12. I’m sure it’s not all in your head Stephen πŸ™‚ I do hope you start feeling better. Have you tried peppermint essential oil on the achy spot it tends to take out the inflammation and loosen up the knot but remember to drink a lot of water afterward too so that it will flush out all the toxins your know releases when it loosens up. I love how you can relate your pain to how you desire to and strive to help others through this ministry God has given you with this blog, I know you have been a daily encouragement for me since you stumbled across my own blog. Feel better and don’t be to much of a pain in the neck for Fionnuala! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I absolutely love this because I absolutely agree! I think my favorite sentence is when you tell people they can stop reading now. I’ve put that in many of my posts. I firmly believe that being transparent and accepting your flaws shows strength.


  14. Ne ho is usual where men concentrate their tensions and stress.try chiropractic.
    I can relate to your pain because I have cracked knees that should be operated but I’m happily living with my pain for 20 yearsπŸ˜‰


          1. Woo hooπŸ˜€I’ll have super power like the bionic woman…..or ….considering I have dark hair like Wonder Woman….the one with Linda carter…it’s closer in ageπŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

            Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly right, well I for one am in the front of the line for being messed up. I mess up more in one day probably than most people. I use to get down on myself about it but God loves me, He is helping me, if not He’d have headed me like a shrimp looong, long ago πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m all about a pain in the neck support group. I get them all the time, on the side or right at the base of my skull, I get one JUST above my shoulder area… Sometimes it happens if I try to crack it… Sometimes it goes away… Working on a computer with dual monitors all day often time’s will give me one (including a raging migraine).
    So yes! Let’s begin the Neck Pain Support Forums!!!
    I can HTML Code (tho I have a friend who’s much better at it than me). We can get this website on the road!!!!

    Haha, no but for real, I totally get what you’re talking about… You get used to it all after a while and it’s weird when it’s not there… I have had severe lower back pain since high school due to OsteoArthritis in my hips, pelvis and tail bone (my bones were not a fan of all the sports I did)… I don’t really notice it anymore unless it’s first thing in the morning, getting up from a seated position, walking too long or standing too long. LOL. it’d be really weird for me if it wasn’t there


  16. I always try to say to my friends, “I’m not in your shoes, I don’t know your perspective entirely because I’m not you, but I’ll do my best.” It always helps for us to understand each other, and understand that we won’t fully understand either.

    My brain kinda hurts thinking about it haha.


  17. You’ve reminded me of some important reasons why I write. I’ve been struggling lately with questions about whether I’m really “a writer” at heart, and whether I’ve simply wasted thousands of dollars attending writer’s conferences. Based on the state of my blogging and my novelling, a stranger would be hard-pressed to know I called myself a writer. But life is so busy and my brain gets so occupied with the cares and needs of my family and church work, that I have a hard time keeping up with it all. In the end, though, I know at heart I MUST be a writer because when my pain is at its most intense, I turn to writing. And God. It’s through writing that I find myself connecting more closely with the One who used words to bring the universe into existence. I fall asleep at night thinking about writing, even if I haven’t written anything for months. Thank you for helping me see that the pain helps me to better know who I am and the person God has made me to be. Pain – the Refiner’s fire. Thank you for sharing yours.


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