November 6, 2018
A very important building block of Resiliency is finding The Path out of Pain. This because, in order to move through a setback and on to the next part of our lives, we have to process and deal with our pain or else we become stuck. Anytime we face a setback or crisis, we experience a loss. Losses are painful. The loss of a loved one, the loss of health, the loss of a pet, the loss of job or money, the loss of friendships and so on, all involve the pain and grief of losing a part of our lives that was important to us.
At the heart of the problem, of moving through pain, is that it is so unbelievably painful. It sounds sort of ridiculously simple doesn’t it? But it is the truth. Our hearts hurt, our bodies ache and our minds are boggled, with the intensity of the pain. It really does appear and feel like it is just too much to bear. I can assure you though, it is not too much to bear, the human heart and spirit are strong and resilient beyond words, it is only for us to find the path through the pain, that is the question.
Like many people, my first reaction to the pain of a great loss, is to avoid it. On one level it makes sense, we don’t want to hurt. But I have noticed, while dealing with the great losses of my life, my first reaction is to get as far away from the pain as possible. To deny it, to intellectualize it, to run away from it with busyness and a vast myriad of other strategies, all with one goal in mind, to protect me from the pain. In some ways this avoidance has practical reasons. During our recovery from a serious car accident, I was the care taker to my husband and his broken neck and while our son was dying of brain cancer we needed to be there for him. But beyond the practicalities of such experiences comes the truth, I try to avoid the pain as long as I can, until avoiding it becomes in a way more unbearable than feeling it and so I have realized that the first step in the Path Out Of Pain is to honour it.
You may be thinking ” Honour the Pain?” that sounds awful. But the truth is until we honour it and acknowledge it we can’t feel it and most importantly, we can’t heal from it, because it stays inside us, it gets stuck. When we have physical injuries, such as a broken leg we don’t run away from the pain. We most likely would get a cast, rest, wait several weeks, get rehab and move back to walking, we would know it is a process. We would also probably be frustrated with our plight, but we would not deny it. To honour and acknowledge the emotional pain of loss, is to give it space from which it can heal. To give the pain a place to go. To give the heart the love it needs to heal. The day after our son’s memorial service, when it seemed as if the world was ready to return to “normal”, we knew we were far from returning to normal, we did not know what the Path Out of Pain would look like, but we knew we had to travel it. To honour our pain, we placed shoelaces from our boy’s shoes on our wrists, they were dark black, they reminded us that we were grieving, that we were hurting,the walking wounded in fact. Those black bracelets did not in fact take away our grief, what they did was far more important, they allowed us to Honour Our Pain and our own inner strength, the love of family and friends, and time have allowed us to move through our pain. My husband pointed to his bracelet recently, which 15 months ago was ebony black. ” Look he said my bracelet is turning white and lighter, and so he said is the pain from the loss of our boy”.
Honour the pain and you will find a way out of it.