We all experience pain within our lives to varying degrees. Emotional pain is personal. Everyone’s experience and triggers are unique and the circumstances that trigger emotional pain are unique. However, there is one thing we all have in common. For all of us there are opportunities for spiritual and psychological growth which are buried like gems beneath the dusty surface of our mental crap.
Mark Twain once pondered on how we learn from experiencing the polarities in life.
“What is joy without sorrow? … You have to experience each if you are to appreciate the other. there is always going to be suffering. It’s how you look at your suffering, how you deal with it, that will define you.” ~ Mark Twain
I have learnt a lot about joy over the years whilst wading my way through disappointment and heartache. My experiences might not have been as horrific as some have experienced. However, I have had quite a few experiences with personal heartache and disappointment which have led me to exquisite moments of connection, love and joy. If I had dived into the pool of pity being offered by those around me, my inner victim would have languished there soaking for far too long. For me personally, I recognised I needed to focus on the given moment rather than on lamenting the pain I am in.
The best way I can demonstrate the point I am trying to make is by sharing a personal story of one particularly hurtful broken relationship experienced in my early thirties. This particular experience helped me discover an inner resilience I never realised I had, and it taught me a lot about human connection.
Here’s What Happened
One New Years Eve the man I was engaged to chose to go drinking with his friends. Not normally an issue for me. However, over the preceding months this had become a regular occurrence. I recall feeling rejected and pushed aside instead of being loved. It hurt. However that particular evening transformed my life. Being on my own without him gave me the opportunity to reflect on my life. For much of that night I cried. The emotional pain was raw. Nothing felt right. I felt empty. For many months I had been caught in a washing machine of feelings. With the rinse cycle constantly on repeat, I rehashed my situation. Back then I was too scared to look forward to a life without him. That New Years Eve though was different. I realised I really didn’t have anything to lose. When I looked into the future I couldn’t see him in it. So when New Years Day arrived, I ended the relationship. Through the tears and emotional processing experienced the previous evening I realised I deserved better than what I was receiving.
Then The Real Story Came Out
It was not until after parting company with this man that I discovered the extent of his deception and cruelty. He had apparently been cheating on me with numerous women. He had lied to them too. Whilst I felt betrayed and angry I also felt grateful. I had dodged a bullet in ending that relationship and chose to focus on the grace. I understood the pain of the other women so I wrapped them up with love in my heart. This might sound like I was pushing my emotional pain aside so as not to deal with it. However, there is a bit more to this story you need to know.
You see, I had gotten to know one of the women on a deep, emotional level a few months prior to us breaking up. He had proclaimed her to be his “best friend”. Over a series of months, he had been regularly pushing us to spend time together. We got to know each other quite well as we talked a lot about the emotions we were experiencing. It had felt like we were kindred spirits in that regard. She and I had never talked about the cause of her pain. However this lady had shared with me her self-loathing and how she had contemplated wrapping her car around a tree. As she talked to me about her pain, I sat there listening and feeling. It felt like I understood the core of her being, even if just a little bit. It was she who unveiled his deception, despite the concern of losing me as a friend.
To this very day this lady remains in my heart as one of the most special people in my life. Our friendship also flourished as we healed together. The memory of that time and the revelation of infidelity was deeply shocking. However, that early opportunity to connect with her so deeply on an emotional level helped me back to see beyond betrayal whilst in the midst of my pain. I had a contextual understanding of what she had experienced. And understanding this helped me to heal. It helped me overcome that heartbreak relatively quickly. I also recognised her courage in coming forward in honesty. With that experience I realised dealing with pain with an open heart was extremely powerful.
Forgetting The Lesson & Relearning It
Not dwelling on pain is something I still struggle with intermittently. Sometimes, I ride the downward spiral of negative, victim-mentality. I also have a tendency to fall into the old trap of not valuing myself and allowing abusive behaviour. Although I dip my toe into old waters occasionally, I don’t remain in that space for very long these days. It doesn’t take me too long to remember again. I switch my thoughts around from focussing on helplessness. Instead I take ownership of my right to make a choice. I focus on all of the blessings in my life in the current moment, and I feel that soothing grace. It is futile to self-flagellate over not getting it right after all these years. I suspect I have lifetimes of imprinting that have had to be addressed. What I do know is that relapse occurs less frequently.
This same approach helped my family through nearly losing my Dad through a heart condition and learning my sister was diagnosed with Cancer within six months of one another. Returning to grace is like taking a deep breathe and a break from the pain. In that moment life feels better.
Wonderful family, friends and remembering to come back to mindfulness helps to bring things back to a place of equilibrium, self-love, harmony and joy.
By the way, some of you might feel frustration and anger in reading this post. This is okay. It is a positive thing to acknowledge your feelings. Tomorrow is a different day though. You never know, exploring the possibilities of grace might just move your mountain.
With much love. xxx
Feature photo courtesy of Pixabay
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