A Bright Side of Suffering

“Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is…”

            -German Proverb

For the past five months I’ve been in a state of perpetual limbo. My health has been in question and I’ve suffered through more anxiety attacks and sleepless nights than I dare remember. In June I started experiencing abdominal pain that would eventually manifest in testicular swelling and discomfort. At one point in those early days the swelling was so severe that I took a week off work and spent my time laying on my back, staring at the ceiling. I sought medical attention, had ultrasounds, and despite the support of my family, I felt totally isolated and alone.

At first no one really knew what was wrong with me. Cancer was ruled out quite early on, as were a number of alternate illnesses and diseases. I was told to take anti-inflammatories, minimize physical activity and hope that the pain and swelling vanished. But it didn’t. So for five long months I sat in this state of apprehension and unknowing, praying that whatever was wrong with me wasn’t terminal. Hoping beyond hope that I wasn’t dying. Then last week I finally received some solid answers. I have a tear in the protective coating around my right testicle and my intestinal fluids are periodically draining into the area causing non-lethal pain and unease. I can have surgery to repair the tear, but doing so doesn’t guarantee that the issue will be resolved and surgical complications may leave me unable to have children.

To say that I have been scared over the past five months is an understatement. I’ve been petrified. I’ve cried, I’ve pleaded with my maker, and I’ve imagined my end over and over again. I have an overactive imagination at the best of times, so to find myself stripped naked in a specialists office as they search for answers was confronting and soul crushing. So I dealt with my problems like any illogical and highly emotional person would. I got drunk, I got angry, and tried my hardest to find conflict. I wanted to punch someone so badly just to feel something other than fear for the briefest of moments. Yet while I was self-destructing behind closed doors, I was also pushing myself harder and harder to write. In the darkness and isolation of shear terror I turned to my passion to save me.

I have always been a man motivated by legacies. And while I’m happy to report that I am not dying just yet, when I do there will be three measures that I use to judge the worthiness and success of the life I have lived: my writing, how many people attend my funeral, and the family I leave behind. I don’t care about money, or possessions, or being fashionable. I care about reaching out and creating lasting connections with people through the written word and social interactions. For those that I never meet I hope to touch them through my websites and manuscripts. For those that I am fortunate enough to have in my life, I hope to leave a feeling of tenderness within their heart and mind. And for the children that I am yet to have, I hope that they look back on their father and know that he gave them a beautiful life.

The epigraph at the top of this post was chosen because it signified the two alternating perspectives that have been dueling inside of my head for the past five months. The fear that has eclipsed much of my thoughts has allowed uncertainty and trepidation to fester. It’s taken the slim possibility of my own demise and turned it into something far larger than it should have ever become and threatened to push me into the depths of depression I have previously escaped from. But now that I know what is wrong with me, that same fear that left me feeling broken is now allowing another wolf to grow larger…


In those terrible moments of loneliness when I lay atop a specialist’s table totally exposed and utterly vulnerable I learned what is really important to me. I learned that writing means more to me than my life itself. I learned that for all of my self-importance and egotistical tendencies, I want to have children of my own. And I learned above all else that even though I was afraid, I was unbreakable. To quote a rather unknown but remarkable Australian singer/songwriter, these realizations have become the bright side of my suffering.

Unlike most of my entries on The Renegade Press there are no cryptic messages or self-important dribble here. I’m not searching for bleeding hearts by sharing my humility with you, and I’m not interested in garnering any messages of support. I’m simply taking a moment to clear my head and put the past five months of ambiguity behind me before I move forward. It has been a traumatic and at times confronting period, yet I’ve managed to produce a few posts to be proud of and continue to pen my way through a follow up to Midas without falling too far behind where I would like to be.

From here the wolf grows stronger. He learns to grow through suffering . And I become unbreakable. It’s only when we are faced with overwhelming odds that we realise the depths of our own fortitude and strength. Thanks to recent events I’m fortunate enough to know mine.

Author: Chris Nicholas

Chris Nicholas is an author from Brisbane, Australia. He has published two novels, and is currently working on his third.

158 thoughts on “A Bright Side of Suffering”

  1. In all the many comments, blogs and followers out there, it is an honor to have haf you visit my blog. There is hope, in the One who pursues the “wolf” as you call yourself. God’s grace be yours, Wendy

  2. One word comes to mind: courage. This is exactly what courage is. It is deciding to persevere even when we are scared out of our minds. Choosing to live while we are still breathing. Thanks for being honest. It is an encouragement.

  3. All interesting, rich deep-fertile material. Thanks much for your writing. At the very end of this piece, I was surprised to see the word “unbreakable” as an aspiration for future health; for whatever reason, I find myself associating unbreakable nature and spirit with relentlessly unbearable. Isn’t your vulnerability your strength of flexibility, rather than strength overpowering tension, finding positive outcomes within the primal relationship of pre-tension of ego-identity resolving in retension of eco-regeneration. Anyway, I don'[t find many in any age bracket, and certainly not in yours, who would even read anything with Hegel in the title So, thanks for both your writing and your reading. Gerald O

  4. Your post reminded me of this story. I actually wrote about it in a post a long time ago.






    I have an overactive mind too. I hope you’re doing better these days.

    1. Thank you for making this point, it echos my position.
      We can also give a few more reasons for loving writing, such as, it allows us to be deeply spiritual without asking us to be religious or nonreligious. It gives us access to the depths of our being, our inner self, independent of religion and non-religion. It allows us a place to go when the world of evil men targets us. It allows us to be as free and powerful as we want to be, how, where and when we want to be so free and powerful. Such power and freedom depend on the roles we assign to our characters and ourselves in our short stories, novels, poetry, plays and even in our essays.

  5. This is a very good post. It is well written and substantive. It shows your average-human quality and at the same time your above average-human quality. You are a great person and a gifted writer and this and other posts indicate this clearly. I hope you are recovered from your illness and that it does not reoccur.

  6. Thanks for sharing this. It touched my heart. Being female and a Christian I suppose I don’t like your depiction of self as a wolf but get your point. Love how you express yourself. Loved this post. Thankful you will be around to share more of your thoughts, ideas and undeniable gift. Keep writing, living with purpose and Sharing. Popped by to thank you for liking one of my posts.

  7. Chris I too suffered a horrible 2015 not quite as physically painfull as you and i am glad to here you are on the mend. knowing what ails you is powerful. last year due to my car engine needing replacement and having to relocate a business the headaches pounded and the stomach acids churned and what came out was not pretty. this went on for a few months before a change in diet and yogurt came to my rescue reducing the pounding and churning allowing clearer thought. writing for me is spiritual, the goal is to get into historical fiction but for now emotions trigger words.

    thank you for the like on my sight.


  8. Thanks for liking one of my posts so that I could find your writing. I appreciate “the bright side of suffering” to pair with a line by Parker Palmer that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. “Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our own suffering.” By becoming self aware of how our default, fear-based reactions are limiting our growth or causing anxiety, we get courage to move ahead — and can trust those soul lessons are the bright side. Pair that with another bits of Palmer’s wisdom that “no punishment anyone lays on me could possibly be worse than the punishment I lay on myself by conspiring in my own diminishment.” I pair that with your Suicide Season post about the importance of writing because it’s what your heart beats for. Thanks for writing out loud what so many writers are holding in their hearts and encouraging us out here to get on with it already!

  9. I love to write as it has slowly swelled inside for a number of years finally surfacing but also too as a distraction from reality as everyday life and concerns can bog one done and turn into quicksand so I use it as a well placed vine to pull myself to safety.


  10. Leaving a legacy gives me something to think about… in fact, every one of your pieces does. Thank you for liking my post or I would not have had a chance to read your work. Best wishes to you!

  11. You are amazing! I have anxiety attacks over little things that probably don’t even matter. I can’t imaging having a pain that can’t be explained. I think you are so wonderful to have pushed through and now that there are answers – no matter what happens it’s all to lead you down the road you’re supposed to go!

    Beautiful, absolutely, beautiful!

    Signed with gratitude,


  12. Reblogged this on Halina's Thoughts and commented:
    To say that I have been scared over the past five months is an understatement. I’ve been petrified. I’ve cried, I’ve pleaded with my maker, and I’ve imagined my end over and over again. I have an overactive imagination at the best of times, so to find myself stripped naked in a specialists office as they search for answers was confronting and soul crushing.

  13. This is a marvelous piece of writing and a testament to your ordeal. Serious illness has a way of bringing what is really important to us into sharp relief. I could identify with much in this post. Thank you for sharing this experience and the best to you going forward.

  14. The Parable -Tale of Two Wolves
    The Tale of Two Wolves

    A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at war with each other.

    One of them is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred and fear.

    The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?”

    The grandfather quietly replies, the one you feed

    Thanks for visiting my site and reading one of my pieces. Enjoy this as it is one of my favorites.

  15. I don’t like that you had this pain and suffering but I do love your writing, your expression of your situation especially of such an intimate problem, but their is feeling and passion in your writing, in your words. Thanks for sharing.

  16. What a lot of wisdom. I myself had what I refer to as a “wake up call” at 35. It really clarifies what is important – as you have said. Thank God, I have already outlived the 50% fatality age limit and am still going!
    Thank you for visiting and liking my blog – I am very new to all this and am loving discovering writers out there sharing their soul as you have. God bless you! And may He grant you the desires of your heart!

  17. Chris,
    Lovely post. My reminder that I was mortal came when my 36 year old brother died of cancer. I wrote about it in my “Happy Birthday Brother” post. I will write about the depression soon. I can relate, even though I was not the patient, to the perspective you gained. As a 56 year old wife and mother of one (not able to have more), I can only say that I think you have your priorities straight. I could die today feeling that I’ve been “successful.”
    Best wishes to you,

  18. In fact, many creatures blow themselves up, so to speak, when confronted. Some also bark loudly and incessantly. In times of great stress, humans are exposed as being not so far removed from other creatures as we’d like to believe.

  19. This is probably one of the most powerful posts I’ve ever read. Also, I just love the German proverb that you started with–it’s so true!

  20. I had a similar experience before finally being diagnosed with bladder cancer. But I am still here and living in hope! God bless you. 🙂
    Rom 5:3 And not only so, but let us have joy in our troubles: in the knowledge that trouble gives us the power of waiting;
    Rom 5:4 And waiting gives experience; and experience, hope:
    Rom 5:5 And hope does not put to shame; because our hearts are full of the love of God through the Holy Spirit which is given to us.

  21. Well I hope you continue on your road to health. I like that even in the uncertainty of your illness, you still find time to admire and like what others on wordpress write. That you are not so wrapped up in your own serious issues and concerns, you still think of others.

    I wish you well,


  22. Well I hope you continue on your road to health. I like that you still continue to look out and admire what others write on wordpress, even with your health concerns. That you are not so wrapped up with your own issues, you can still think of others.

    I wish you well,


  23. Thank you for sharing this leg of your journey. Your optimism out of adversity is inspiring. Thank you for reading and liking my post as well 🙂

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