All of her life, she’d been trying to run away from pain.
She went from place to place. She traveled around the world to find her joy—but like a loyal companion, the pain followed her wherever she went. She entered relationships and friendships hoping that this time it would be better—more loving, less painful. But her hope was rarely fulfilled.
Why was the pain always by her side?
For as long as she can remember, each decision she made was always followed by hurt. “Choices are painful” was the lesson she learned as a little girl. This was a lesson she swallowed so deeply into her subconscious mind that she became unaware of this conviction—a lesson that then began to shape her reality.
When she became an adult, she was unable to commit to a choice. Deep down, she still believed that every choice would bring her pain; every commitment would take away her freedom.
So she stayed stuck in an in-between state—never fully saying yes, and never fully saying no, leaving all options open.
Sometimes she tried to make short-term decisions. She chose boyfriends and places to live. But her mind was so convinced that choices bring pain that this illusion would shape shift her reality. With every decision she took, the pain followed her. She resisted it—it became stronger and stronger until she escaped into a short-lived freedom.
But the more she resisted choices, the more life presented her with opportunities to choose. And so, she tried again.
Choosing, followed by suffering, and then escape was the pattern her unconscious settled for. When all she ever wanted was freedom.
But something was missing in her freedom.
Finally, one day she realized what had been missing all along: She had forgotten to include her pain in her freedom.
She had made up a story in her mind that pain and freedom were opposites when really they didn’t have to be. She understood that in order to be free, she must welcome the pain into her soul, into her being.
So, for the first time in her life, she desired to make a commitment. And she chose to feel her pain.
Every time the pain would follow her like a loyal companion, she decided that she would finally fully feel it. It was her heartfelt choice. She was in control when she surrendered to all emotions that she used to judge as “bad.”
She let herself feel the pain of the separation and loneliness. It was the first time that she did not run away from her emotions or distract herself, but instead observed her heart when it broke into thousand pieces.
She felt the deeply rooted pain of a perceived isolation that she had accumulated since childhood and that sometimes threatened to take her life. She let the tears run down her face like a river of salted sadness. She chose to feel deeply, made friends with her anger, and let her voice rise from the bottom of her inner dungeon.
She surrendered to the downward spirals of life and embraced every emotion with openness and compassion.
And when she did, she was surprised.
She laughed—because, for the first time in her life, the pain did not feel painful. When she did not resist the downward spiral, she would quickly find herself back in the beautiful flow of love and creation.
She smiled when she understood that it was never the pain that had made her suffer. The root cause of her suffering was the belief that she had no choice but to be stuck in pain.
For so many years, this belief had made her believe that she was powerless. But now that she chose to feel the pain, she felt powerful instead.
Now that she was with her pain, she did not need to be scared of it anymore. She did not need to run away any longer. She felt complete.
She befriended her pain and felt stronger than ever before. She befriended her pain and lost her fear of commitment.
By choosing pain, she found her freedom.
Author: Alice Dea Smeets
Image: Author’s own, via Christine Bongartz
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina