I was thinking about someone who in my opinion overreacted to a minor comment I told her. The details of it all are not important, except to say that I realized that her overreaction was triggered by the fact that she clearly never had to deal with real pain in her life, as something so minor appeared to set her off on a train wreck.
Anyway, after all that mishegas, I had a moment of perfect clarity. I realized that I am lucky that I had pain in my life. I never realized it as clearly as I do today. I went through a turbulent childhood and young adulthood, and I had more than my fair share of pain, humiliation, and distress as I was growing up. And as a child and young adult, I never understood exactly why it was that I had to endure all that I endured. It seemed like I was simply being randomly punished. But I now realize how lucky I was to have gone through what I went through. I realized that I have grown as a person and a human being as a result of my childhood mishegas. As a result, I am a stable and mature young adult, and I know I would never react in such an erratic and overwrought fashion, as my friend reacted.
Because of my former life experiences, I am the person that I am today. Yes, I suffered at the time that everything happened. But in truth, I would not take back any of my mistakes and past heartache even if I could. Because it all made me a better and stronger person. I wish that I could have learned and grew and become stronger without having had pain in the past, but I do not think I really could have, in practical terms.
There is the expression, "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger." And it is simply true. Only those who have undergone pain in their lives have the strength of character to not fear pain in the future. Only those who have themselves endured the worst forms of gossip and humiliation frankly grow stronger and tougher and realize that, no matter what someone says about a person, ultimately, it does not matter, and as long as you believe in yourself, the opinions of others are wholly irrelevant.
The pain I had in my past gives me the strength to tackle whatever life throws at me. On an even simple level, after I broke my wrist and had it in a cast, I was less afraid of needles and pain, and now I donate blood regularly (when I have enough iron to do so!). I am lucky that I had an antisemitic ex-friend in law school who runs one of the top antisemitic websites on the internet, because that caused me to examine Judaism and Israel, and rethink my entire life perspective and ideology. It brought me to a Jewish community which I find so extremely meaningful.
And so I know that ultimately, I am lucky I had a bumpy past, the details of which are beyond the point of this post. If everything was smooth sailing, I would never have understood how to deal with even a minor wind.
Maybe this is just a small reason why bad things happen to good people, so to speak. When good people deal these bad things, it makes them better people.