How Much Can We Take?

Putin’s War caused this question to come to mind. I feel mentally crippled and helpless to do anything. I can’t wrap my head around it.

It’s made me think hard and deep about how much we humans can withstand — both physically and emotionally. It’s miraculous we survive as well as we do.

I am heartbroken when I see Ukranian soldiers fighting in the forests through no fault of their own. Children with mothers fleeing. People holding their pets. Yes, this means I cry a little every day. It’s too much.

Fiddle Faddle
Daisy, our Corgi mix — photo by Paul Smith

People use the phrase, God never gives you more than you can handle, but I have a little trouble with that. I think people say this when trying to get through suffering. I understand.

It works for people and that’s good. As John Lennon says in song, ”Whatever gets you through the night.”

But for me, I think: when does the suffering stop? If you are feeling other people’s pain, there is no end, but there’s compassion and empathy.

I’m not talking about being all consumed with it 24/7. Just this awareness of pain and suffering — mine and others.

I am not a card-carrying Buddhist, but they have a few thought-provoking tenets. The Four Noble Truths which are their basic beliefs:

  1. Duhkha — commonly referred to as ”suffering,” ”unhappiness,” ”pain,” ”unsatisfactoriness,” or ”stress.”
  2. Samudaya — relates to the concept of craving (attachment)
  3. Nirodha — concerns the solution to suffering (non-attachment), which is an end to suffering
  4. Magga — Buddhists believe that it is the ”cure” that was given by the Buddha for suffering

More simply put, suffering exists; it has a cause; it has an end; and, it has a cause to bring about its end.

I don’t see it that way. I believe Nos. 1 and 2. I’m not sure there is a solution to suffering. To me, there is no cure.

If you’re living on this planet, you are suffering. It goes away, then comes back. A cycle. You’re suffering yourself or you’re suffering for someone else.

I told a therapist once that living this life here on earth is hell. She agreed. This doesn’t make me a negative person. It’s just an observation and what I’ve gleaned from being here.

A Figure I Deem to Have Had Too Much to Take

Jacqueline Kennedy. To me, her life was tragic and more than I could have handled. Doesn’t sound like Camelot.

It is evident she wanted children so much. In August 1955, she had her first pregnancy. Three months later, she miscarried.

She learned then that carrying and delivering a child would always be difficult for her.

In August 1956, she gave birth to a stillborn infant, eight months along. They named her Anabella. She is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

To me, this is one of the absolute worst things for a mother to bear. Such pain and suffering. Unbelievable sorrow.

In November 1957, they had a healthy baby, Caroline.

In November 1960, John, Jr. was born with respiratory issues. It was questionable for a bit whether he would make it.

In 1963, Patrick, their infant son, died two days after he was born —five and a half weeks prematurely. Again, respiratory issues. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Three months later, President Kennedy was assassinated.

And through this, President Kennedy was known for his infidelities.

All this happening by the time she was 34. I can’t imagine the physical and emotional pain she endured. Perhaps her faith guided her.

Yet, every picture I have seen of her, she is smiling, except the day of the president’s burial. On that day, she went ahead in the afternoon with the planned birthday party for John, Jr. He turned three.

She went on to be a single mother. Then remarried. She died young, only 64, from cancer.

Physical Pain

What’s your threshold for pain? Zero is mine. I have a toss-up between two conditions causing the most physical agony. Once, I was on my way to having a frozen shoulder. The exercises to prevent this were brutal.

The second condition was when I had a tummy tuck, which was part of breast reconstruction. When I got home and all those painkillers started wearing off, I wasn’t feeling so great.

All I wanted was to go to bed so I did. I didn’t get back in bed for a month once I got up. When I was ready to get out of bed that first time, I was taken by surprise.

So very painful to lift the upper body from the bed. My abdomen had been cut all the way across and one of the two muscles was tunneled to my chest. Thank heavens for the La-Z-Boy.

Here’s a list of things, in no particular order, that ”they” say are the most painful physical conditions:

  • Cluster headaches
  • Shingles
  • Heart attack
  • Slipped disc
  • Broken bones
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Appendicitis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Migraines
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Sickle Cell disease
  • Arthritis
  • Endometriosis
  • Pain after surgery
  • Sciatica
  • Kidney stones
  • Gout
  • Acute pancreatitis
Fiddle Faddle

I would add childbirth to that list.

I’m guessing most of us have suffered through one or more of these.

Don’t want to forget the ”aches” — tooth and ear. Aches? Really? Let’s call pain for what it is — not an ache. As my dentist used to say, ”These can get you where you live.”

And oh, there’s the coffee table stub-your-toe pain!

Emotional Pain

Knowing the signs of emotional pain:

  • Personality change in a way that seems different for a person
  • Agitation or displaying anger, anxiety or moodiness
  • Withdrawal or isolation from others
  • Poor self-care and perhaps engaging in risky behavior
  • Hopelessness, or feelings of being overwhelmed and worthless

I experience a couple of these off and on. In today’s world, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Also easy to be agitated — especially driving around Atlanta.

Creditable evidence shows that the most intense, painful mental illness diagnosis is borderline personality disorder. It’s complicated. I don’t understand it so there’s no way I can explain it.

Fiddle Faddle

So . . .

How much can I take? I guess I can take what comes my way and sojourn on. This too shall pass. I have little say in the matter.

There are those who can’t take emotional pain. They self-inflict or take their own life. So many of those hurting just can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. How very painful this must be. It was too much.

There are those who can’t take physical pain. There was a man who lived in our neighborhood. I don’t know his illness but he limped along with some sort of apparatus on wheels that allowed him to be mobile.

His car was equipped so he could drive. When I would hear about him, he was never doing well. It became too much and he asphyxiated himself.

So, yes, sometimes people can take only so much. My heart is with those who have no choice but to take on what might be too much for them.

Namaste 🙏

💙💛 Glory to Ukraine 💛💙

Thank you so much for reading. Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love to hear how much you think is too much.



  1. I am not sure if there is an answer but which is worse, emotional or physical pain? I wish health insurance companies treated mental illness the same as physical illness.

    1. Dear Christie, you present a good question. I don’t know which I would say is worse. Agreed. Insurance companies should see our bodies as a whole and not separate. For that matter, dental insurance should be part of the package.

      Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. Much appreciated. Best to you. 🌈🌈

    1. Hi Lona, so glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you.

      Thank you for continuing to read and your comment is appreciated.

      Namaste 🙏

  2. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “I just can’t take this anymore”, but my nature and my faith keeps it in control. We all have our ways in dealing with pain, personally, it’s my faith that had always gotten me through the road of life. For me, I think emotional pain is the worse. It can stick with you forever if you allow it to. The physical pain can be unbearable at times, but I feel easier to heal, most of the time. It’s time for mental illness to be taken seriously and should be covered by insurance. I don’t have a super high tolerance for pain either and envy those who do. My hubby has endured physical pain most of his life. He says that’s why he has a high tolerance! It takes a long time for broken hearts to heal, if ever. I agree with your friends, this is one of your best! Luv ya!

    1. Yes, it can take forever or never to recover from heartbreak. I know this sounds so immaterial and small, but I’ll never get over the heartbreak of losing Bruno. To me, he was so much more than a cat. He represented to me things I never received from people. It’s a tough place to be. I know you and millions of others are guided and made whole by your faith. I love that. I’m just not there but never stop holding out hope that things could change. It makes people so strong. I am sorry to hear that Walt has suffered so much physical pain in his life. That just seems to happen to people through no fault of their own. I think some insurance companies do cover mental illness, but it isn’t always enough and some people don’t even have insurance. Thank you, Judy, for being a loyal reader and feel comfortable leaving comments. I learn a lot from them. ❤️

  3. Another wonderfully thoughtful post from you, Yvonne. You express what many of us have experienced so well. You always make me think. Thank you for that.

    1. Dear Char Char, thank you for your kind words. Thank you so much for being a loyal reader. So many people have so much on their plate. I just don’t know how they handle it. Single mothers come to mind. There are many struggling. Life is not for wussies. With much love and care, Yvonne

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *