The Willingness to Face Our Pain

Image by Trevor Pottelberg

Image by Trevor Pottelberg

 

“Retreating into yourself to find purpose can be like straddling a dock and a boat that is moving away. We are pulled in opposite directions by the intense desire of the mind for human involvement and the equally intense need of the soul for its own company. In the sheer immensity of solitude, when one can no longer draw energy from external sources, we come to see how much of what we habitually call being productive is merely the evasion of sitting still and meeting what is most difficult for us to receive with compassion — our own pain.”
Dawna Markova  from her book I Will Not Live An Unlived Life: Reclaiming Passion and Purpose 
 
Sitting on the edge of freedom, unable to step foot into the unknown, we are terrified of the fear that wells up inside of us. When we even consider stepping forward, something calls us quickly and urgently back into the known. Our fear is mistaken as a dark and dismal warning to run away. To hide. To pretend we didn’t really catch a glimpse of the light or truly want to meet ourselves and embrace our truth. We wear masks to protect ourselves from ourselves. Why do we do this?
 
Change is difficult. Change is challenging. If anyone tells you otherwise they are fooling you, and chances are good that if you think change was easy in the past,  it really wasn’t change at all, at least not the kind that Dawna Markova and I are talking about, change that brings your life into alignment with your true self and all that you have been called upon to contribute. Real change is inner transformation, and above all else it requires solitude and a face to face meeting with ourselves.
 
The most terrifying part of change is this face to face meeting – for it requires meeting our pain. We cannot change if the shadows of the past have us in their clutches, directing our choices and our actions. We will only carry the darkness into the future and rest assured, the pain will be a constant reminder, appearing again and again until we face it, embrace it and put it to rest.
 
The fear of change is our unwillingness to face our pain. To walk toward it. To let it come to the surface. After all, we have spent so much time and energy pushing it aside, pretending it isn’t there, shoving it deep down inside of ourselves, layering mask upon mask over top of it.  It takes some serious excavating to even find it, and then….when we do….we believe we will have to suffer the excruciating pain all over again. 
 
This time, however, the pain is like the lancing of a wound. Oh, it hurts when the knife begins to break the skin, but the pain feels like healing, not dying. As the wound drains, as the pain pours forth, there is great release and relief. It is different. It is not like the original wounding, it sets us free and once we are on our way, it even propels us forward. We begin to understand the necessity of the healing process and the great rewards that come with it.
 

Are you allowing your wounds to drain? Or, are they festering under layers of protection? Real change not only takes a willingness to step forward and meet the challenges, it often requires support of many kinds along the way. You need not go it alone. If you are looking for guidance, support or direction for your journey, get in touch with me. I may be able to help. AgingAbundantly@gmail.com

About Dorothy Sander

Writer.

6 Comments

  1. Dorothy, Our pain and our unwillingness to face it and change are the root of life. Suffering is optional. Thanks for a wonderful reminder and an inspiring post.

  2. Every day I face the pain of my mother’s sudden passing. Sometimes I let the tears flow. Other times I turn the pain into a blog post in her memory. I love the image in your introductory quote about the boat and dock and your thoughtful questions at the end.

    • Tears can be so cleansing, so healing. I went for what seemed an eternity when I could not cry. I knew true healing had begun when the tears began to flow again. Holding a peaceful place for you, Marian.

  3. Thank you for the reminder that there really is a reason why I’m unearthing the pain of years past. I have to take breaks, but I keep coming back to the project of writing to my mother who died nine years ago. At times it is excruciating.

    One of my “defenses” as been that I’ve dealt with all that. And I did deal with layers of it through several years of intensive therapy, but there are more layers to go. For me it is a lifetime process.

    • You summed it up perfectly, “it is a lifetime process”. I have found this to be especially true of pain from childhood, pain that we learned at an early age to ignore in order to survive. My mother has been gone almost as long and still there is work to be done. I applaud your courage and determination to keep going.

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