I am healing. My broken heart is slowly being stitched back together with the golden threads of courage, love and friendship.
The knotted bands of anxiety are gently untangling in my stomach, stretching out and thinning.
The lump in my throat that has been choking me is loosening and I am able to breathe again.
My eyes are no longer burning with tears that threaten to overflow at any second.
I still ache. My head is still spinning, but less with each moment that passes. I may ache for a while, and while I don’t enjoy it, I make space for it. The pain may linger and may surface occasionally when I least expect it, and that’s also okay.
As my dear friend reminded me, suffering is grace. We, as a culture, have been taught that suffering is bad and that it is something to avoid. However, the curious paradox of suffering and pain is that while we want to avoid it, doing so will only lead to a hardened heart that is impenetrable.
We cannot selectively choose what emotions we feel, and so to embrace love, hope, joy and delight we must also be willing to accept pain, suffering, defeat and agony.
While I don’t like the ache and there are many moments where I wish it would just stop, I know that it is working magic deep inside of me. Each moment that I feel the pain, acknowledge its presence and allow it to move through me is a victory. It is the easier thing to deny pain, to run, to self-medicate, to pretend it really didn’t matter and really doesn’t hurt.
That is not the path for me to take.
I am, like many of you reading this, an open-hearted spiritual warrior. We are not the type to take the easy road—we take the higher road. We recognize the gift that comes wrapped in betrayal, abandonment, rejection, heartbreak and even suffering, because we know that as we lean into the pain, we become stronger. We become more able to tolerate the vicissitudes of life.
The fire we call suffering burns away all that no longer serves us.
When we learn to walk through hell with an open heart, we have become able to offer love as it was meant to be: unconditional, unwavering and pure.
I welcome every salty tear and hold it with love, knowing that it is a silent prayer, offered up by a heart that is surrendered. I hold tenderly the ache inside, knowing that the ability to feel pain means I am still alive, still present and have not shut down. I allow the agony that sometimes hits me like a freight train and I breathe through it.
As I quiet my mind and breathe, I hear my brave, tender and mending heart whispering:
I’m still here
I’m still here
I’m still here.
Author: Lisa Vallejos, PhD
Editor: Toby Israel
Image: Eva Blue/Flickr