Yesterday I woke up to a call from a friend who was in the midst of deep emotional pain. It was the ending of a relationship, a packing of their life shared into little boxes. And to no ones surprise she was reminded that life doesn’t fit so neatly into boxes. There is the unexpected running into momentos, pictures, moments that they had shared, milestones that were celebrated, and now the untangling. The unraveling of lives that had been woven together for the better part of a decade. Loss, grief and pain were consuming her and darkening her field of vision.
An hour later I was in the salon waiting for my first client. And as he rose with difficulty his eyes met mine, only they weren’t the same eyes I had looked into the last time I saw him. This time his eyes were clouded, full of fear and pain.
As he walked slowly, gingerly back to the massage table he was sharing about his back pain. The fear of the next spasm- the pain that would bring him to his knees, the unpredictability of it, the intensity of it and how his life in the past two weeks had been closed down, reduced to the bare essentials- his life darkened by pain.
Pain- emotional, physical, both bound by it, both deep in the middle of it… both scared of the spasms… both afraid of what comes next… what unsuspecting move or discovery would bring back the blinding pain.
For both the same remedy… touching the tender places, touching gently at first, finding the edge of the pain, finding the borders and the cause, re-introducing the body and the heart to touch that won’t cause pain, breathing in and out, finding safety for sore muscles, for broken hearts.
Both left in different places… both remembering that they are more than their pain, that there was life before, there will be life after- but for now life requires gentleness, modifications of various sorts. Both require lots of rest and water, getting rid of the toxins, clearing out the residue of fear, and learning to trust again.
Trusting the body, trusting the heart, trusting the healing.
And again it comes back a simple recipe for healing…
Listen to the pain
Attend with gentleness
Find safety for the hurting places
Trust in the process
Seek out comfort
Look for the healing
Once the pain has opened up the way for the new beginning look to the path stepping one foot in front of another.
Pain is the one thing that we spend so much of our time avoiding, keeping the house at just the right temperature, keeping ourselves away from any element that might create mess in any form. Yet, the best of life happens in the mess. Often the moments of greatest stretching and growth happen in the moment of tension between our comfort zone and the beginning of pain. Sometimes these moments are ones we consciously invite, and sometimes they are moments that are forced upon us.
Either way we still choose how we respond to pain. Do we breathe into it, or as Brene Brown talks about “lean into the discomfort.” Or do we constrict our lives, allowing fear to have us focus only the darkness.
It is my hope that you put your faith in the crack of light, that little shaft that breaks through to show us the way back to the light in our life. My hope that you would trust in healing, trust that as John O’Donohue reminds us “You are more than your pain.”
“Even though life may have moved wearily and painfully through such a person, they have still managed not to let it corrode their soul. In such a face a lovely luminosity shines out into the world. It casts a tender light that radiates a sense of wholeness and wholesomeness.”