But suddenly you’re ripped into being alive. And life is pain, and life is suffering, and life is horror, but my god you’re alive and its spectacular. - Joseph Campbell
We're all afraid of pain. We have to override every natural instinct that tells us to run from it. Running from pain is the natural thing to do.
Sitting with pain, and learning from pain, is counter-intuitive. It feels …. painful and shitty and gut-wrenching and heart-breaking. We don't like it.
I tried for a long time to run from pain. That's what I knew. I had lots of coping mechanisms to help me. Food restriction, control, and working myself into the ground - to name a few.
Learning to let pain in was hard.
But allowing my pain to come and go has also been the catalyst to something deeper, to something greater. Pain gives us access to parts of ourselves we've denied or perhaps never even knew existed. Pain ripped me into being truly alive.
Without pain, I wouldn't have bothered digging. I was pretty happy (I thought) with the status quo – not questioning my beliefs or the way I was living. But pain showed up. She had a message. And she kept showing up until I decided to listen. She's persistent.
She's still my least favourite teacher. I'm still much more likely to run to the door when joy visits. But over time, I've also learned that the more gracefully I let pain in the door, the less time she stays.
I love how Glennon Doyle Melton puts it: Discomfort is purposeful: it is there to teach you what you need to know so you can become who you were meant to be. Pain is just a traveling professor. When pain knocks on the door—wise ones breathe deep and say: “Come in. Sit down with me. And don’t leave until you’ve taught me what I need to know."
That's so true.
We have to opt OUT of the idea that it's better not to feel pain: through excess or distraction or addiction.
We have to opt IN to the idea that we can learn to to sit with pain. That we can allow her to pass through our home and that we WILL NOT DIE from letting her hang out for a little while.
We have to let her in so that she can sit down, have a coffee (short or long) and then go.
It is okay to need help with this too. She's not an easy guest - especially if you're just developing a relationship with her.
Let yourself be open to support - from a friend, from a loved one, or from a professional.
I believe in you. Keep going. Keep growing.
Keep moving toward love and the healthy pursuit of happiness,