Today I have a guest post by a very good friend of mine – Gel. She has become a regular on my blog, and she is one of my biggest inspirations through her own writing, and today I have welcomed her to write as a guest as she talks about her struggle with “pain is the healing” .
In her last blog post Karen wrote; “Feeling the pain IS the Healing”. I started to write a comment on her blog. It got so long and I realized that this is an important topic for me right now. So I am going into it more deeply here.
“Feeling the pain IS the Healing”….I believe this but it’s so hard to keep it in mind. Every fiber in my being behaves as if pain is to be avoided, averted, figured out, fought, run from, analyzed, work on, numbed, and probably dozens of other things. All of them are the opposite of accepting pain as part of the healing process.
It is confusing because we have a survival instinct to avoid pain. There are times when it is totally right to flee, leave or fight…usually on a survival level, a self-protection level.
The hardest step for me in the 12 step program is step 3….”making a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand God.”….I did this step with my AA sponsor as part of a progression through the 12 steps. But to me the work really deepens when I make more of a regular practice of applying this step in my life.
So the hard part for me is turning myself over to the present (the preset being the only place where I think ‘God’ is accessible), and letting go of the outcome….and accepting that what is going on right now IS where God wants me to be and IS where the growth and learning is….as Karen wrote about in her last post “the healing is here”.
Another part of Karen’s post that really struck me was this: “Maybe if I accept that work can be done being stuck in the hard, maybe I will move through this stuck place I have been in“. Ah! this is really good. I’ve turned Karen’s words into a statement of empowerment – this is what I need to tell myself:
“I accept that work can be done, growth happens, even while being
stuck in the hard stuff.”
I usually interpret pain as evidence that something is WRONG, that I’ve made a mistake, or “I’m screwed” etc… When i feel stuck I often react to that by collapsing even more, rather than breathing into the hard stuff with curiosity, compassion and presence.
Another thread in all this is the mistaken belief that when I’m in pain, that means I ‘deserve‘ it as if I’m being punished. There is truth in their being consequences to my actions. But what I’m talking about here is the mistaken belief that at my core I’m NOT OK. This is a dead-end, it doesn’t hold any potential for growth. So I want to ‘weed’ out that mistaken belief, because it keeps me stuck in my head about the pain rather than just really feeling it. And it keeps me from remembering to trust the process.
But it is so dreadful to be stuck, I wonder if there is a way to find a rhythm of swinging back and forth between accepting things without trying to change them AND then asserting our willingness to take bold steps into new territory. Not out of avoidance but in the spirit of collaboration with God. I’ve always really liked the idea of ‘collaborating’ with God rather than being totally passive. I think the Serenity Prayer has that in it ….”accepting the things we cannot change and CHANGING THE THINGS WE CAN”…..I don’t think God wants us to be totally passive. So really this is an elegant paradox…to accept what is without changing it AND to keep moving with the flow of life – to also be a spark of creative participation.
Down on the ground, in day-to-life this is about having daily routines that nourish me even when I’m down, stuck or in a hard place. In my life with addictions there was only turning to the addiction to find relief. Now I’m learning to give myself breaks with healthy activities,or at least with benign activities. Activities that don’t always make me feel good in the moment but which I trust are rebuilding my foundation. Gardening, standing in the garden doing nothing but looking, watching a movie in the middle of the day, and not feeling lazy or guilty about it, just to name a few.
Back to ‘feeling the pain IS the healing”– this is the essence of the counseling I am doing right now — (Re-Evaluation Co-Counseling (RC)). The basic premise of RC is that feeling the pain – letting it flow out in the form emotional and physical ‘discharge’ – is the actual healing of the wound or trauma. (by ‘discharge’ I mean anything that releases the stored pain….like crying, shaking, talking, yawning etc). Then the mind is clear and can see things rationally (re-evaluate). It’s not about inflicting pain or forcing oneself to feel things that are traumatic, as is done with desensitization therapy techniques. It’s based on just the understanding that when we feel safe and cared for and respected then our natural healing process will come forth in the form of going through and letting out the stored pains. Having a trusted compassionate counselor with you for that process is key.
I guess I’m writing so much about this because I need to hear it. I have a Co-Counseling session today and I’m not excited about feeling the pain that is finally coming up. The tricky part is that I am seeing that I get depressed right before the icky stuff comes up. I never saw that until recently. OK I’m not going to cancel the appointment, like I FEEL like doing right now.
Thanks to Karen for this topic. I do not wish for anyone to have pain but if you do have pain than I wish you well in the journey THROUGH it. I hope your journey moves through what ever you are feeling into what ever you are to become.
– Thank you GEL for this WONDERFUL blog post.. there is so much to learn from others in their own experiences in healing.