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Maybe the Lesson was just Learning to Feel the Pain

This year didn't just break my heart, it broke my soul, my life and my mind along with it. I don't think I have ever spent so much time in bed, doubled over in pain, sobbing until nothing was left inside me. That's what happens when you find yourself in a place of the deepest, most profound regret imaginable.

You know you have made too many wrong choices for you to ever get back to where you started from and make it right. You know that your choices hurt the people that you love in ways that those relationships may never bounce back from. Other people hurt you too. But that isn't the biggest thing. The worst of the pain comes from self blame.

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, some things just can't be fixed.

The thing is, though:

“No matter how hard your heart is broken, the world doesn't stop for your grief.” – Faraaz Kazi.

Since the world doesn't stop for you to have time to process, you have to find the strength within yourself to keep going, no matter what your circumstances are. It is difficult, to be sure, but we all have to pick ourselves back up and keep going.

Moving through loss

There were times in life that I have felt depressed this way before. Times when I felt that my heart would never stop breaking. That the pain was simply too much to bear, and it seemed to be without end. My dad died young. I went through a terrible divorce. I have lost friends and loved ones.

Every time you move through the dark well of sadness, you can learn something about yourself, if you are willing to step back and truly look at things through mindful eyes.

I never did that before, though. Each time I was in a place of sorrow and suffering before, I tried to numb out the pain with drinking. Not a pleasant thing to admit, to be honest. I can't even count the number of times I would get drunk and cry about my dad. For years.

This time though, I didn't reach for a drink. I didn't try to numb out the pain. I didn't try to run or hide. I allowed my body and my mind to fully FEEL the pain.

I was reminded with this morning's tarot reading that,

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore, trust the physician and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.”
―Khalil Gibran

I definitely didn't go through the pain with silence and tranquility, but I did allow myself to feel, and that is a first step. To truly learn the lessons that pain has to teach us, we first have to allow ourselves to truly feel it. If we don't, we just move into escapism and denial without ever truly healing from what has hurt us.

What was the lesson?

Oftentimes pain, grief and sadness can be some of our greatest teachers. If we look at why we are experiencing the sense of loss, we can see where we need to grow. We can focus in more closely on what needs to be healed, and what our priorities are.

It's just like when you go to the doctor. You have to point to the place where your body hurts so that the doctor can diagnose what ails you.

It is the same with emotional pain. In order to be able to heal, we first have to identify where the pain is coming from. Sometimes it is obvious, but other times less so.

In my case, I was mourning the loss of a dream. The loss of myself. The loss of my family as I knew it. When I moved overseas, I separated my two children across an ocean. I don't know that I will ever have them in one house again. And it broke something inside me when I really and truly realized that.

Now, I have to take the lessons I have learned from that pain so that I can move forward. I have to build a new life that spans continents (somehow) so that I can balance time between my two children.

Just because you can't hold the person you love close to you, it doesn't mean the love is gone.

This isn't just true of distance either. It ca be true if you are going through a break up, or if you have lost someone you love. We have to remember that even if someone we love dies, there memory lives on, and the love can still live within your heart even if the object of your love isn't there wit you. The love itself doesn't die, it stays a part of your heart forever.

What is the lesson in your own pain?

You are likely not suffering in the same way that I am. Your situation and your pain are uniquely your own. And yet, pain is a common experience that we all feel in life. What can you learn from yours? How can it help you grow and make you stronger? What can you learn about yourself and your values?

Personally, I learned that I value the people I love above all. Love is more important than any dream, or anything else I can hold in life.

For each of you, the lesson will be unique.

To process through the pain, first, allow yourself to feel it fully. Sit with it for a while, and allow it to move through you. You can't release something if you don't first allow yourself to feel it completely.

Then, you can journal about it. Talk things through with a friend, a therapist or a support group. Learn coping skills, and examine the reason why things hurt you so badly. Did it trigger something from the past, or a limiting belief about yourself? If so, you can work through the past situation as well, so that you can release the situations and beliefs deep in your psyche that are unresolved.

According to Psych Central, here are four ways to work through your pain:

  1. Guided mindfulness

  2. Traditional therapy approaches

  3. Lifestyle medicine

  4. Sense of humor

Mindfulness practices can include meditation and yoga, as well as being mindfully present in your experience. Being mindful can help you to be more grounded in the moment, and get out of your head. It helps you realize that you are not your thoughts.

In addition to seeing a therapist, you can also make sure that you are living a healthy lifestyle. This may be the furthest thing from your mind right now, but if you make time for meditation, exercise, proper diet and sleep, then it will make you healthier both physically and mentally.

Personally, I am not sure how a sense of humor can help you shift out of pain, it seems to belittle your experience. But Psych Central says that,

You might feel that humor is the last thing you can handle at the moment. That’s natural. However, consider “faking it until you make it.” You could start by exposing yourself to humorous situations or surrounding yourself with humorous people.

By trying to lighten up a little bit, you can find something to live for again. You can help yourself remember that there is more to life than just the pain you are feeling. Your life will go on, and you have to reclaim it.

As you try to process the pain you are going through in your own life remember, nothing lasts forever. Though this can hurt greatly when applied to the things that we love and make us happy, it also applies to the causes of our pain. Eventually, things will stop hurting so much, and you will be able to move on.

If you learn the lessons that pain has to teach you this time around, then perhaps the next time something happens to hurt you, then you will be better able to cope and move through the feelings more quickly.


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