Those feelings come from a place so far deep inside us that really don’t get accessed that often.
Historically, when I would find myself in the midst of a painful emotional experience, all I could feel is the hurt.
All I could focus on was the present and could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now as years pass and I really do understand elements of suffering from personal experience—there’s a complex acknowledgement of the capacity of the pain, and then there comes an integration of the lesson.
It’s very difficult to do at times, but I feel as though in retrospect I appreciate it. I appreciate it because that pain and difficulty stretches me and tests me. It forces me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It enables me to appreciate times in my life when I am not suffering.
I feel as though so many people fall surrender to the dynamic of suffering. It penetrates the soul and mind in ways that we didn’t know possible. Yet on the other end, there’s calm in the sea.
I remember being in the throws of grieving the loss of my best friend a few years ago, and being curious and scared that my life would never be peaceful. I resented those periods when I felt like I was doing nothing but mourning a loss or being preoccupied with sadness.
There are those moments of truly marinating in the hurt and feeling the penetration so deeply that we genuinely don’t feel like that kind of heaviness can lift.
All I wanted was for things to “be back where they were.” When in reality, no experience in life allows for that.
Every experience molds us into something different.
Then I came to a realization. It’s those lengthy periods of suffering that truly have made me into the person that I am today. I have seen the benefits of suffering manifest in my daily life and in my relationships. If someone comes to me with a problem or concern that parallels in any way something that I have experienced, I can show extreme empathy. I have such a deep and profound respect for those who can acknowledge suffering and try and work through it.
In the past, being with people who were suffering made me uncomfortable. Often enough I became nervous that they had emotionally traveled to a place I didn’t understand. And now, I become sympathetic. I become more connected.
When I come to the last of my days, I want to look back on my life and appreciate those times of suffering because they have indeed made me strong and whole. They’ve made me human.
We need to find a way to appreciate the hard months and years. To not be intimidated by them.
Keep the optimism that they represent a part of our lives, they don’t make up our lives. I mean, if we think about it, what would life be like without any suffering? It would be boring and mundane and challenge free.
Ed: Lynn Hasselberger