February 3, 2020

Showing our Sh*t is what Heals & brings us Closer Together.


View this post on Instagram


Deer Angst. 2006. Sold. Fecalface (ha!) did a mini interview on me & this. There was a lot of talk of bronchitis & hallucinations…

A post shared by Noël Smith-Sparrow (@theluckysparrow) on

Pain is the one thing than none of us can escape.

We all experience it. It’s a part of being alive. Why can’t we be as open about it as we are about our joy and victories?

A story half-told doesn’t serve us. It doesn’t serve our capacity for compassion, empathy, or healing. We need to share our full story—not just the edited versions that suit our audience, be it friends, coworkers, social media followers, or family.

To neglect the full story of who we are—sad, ugly parts included—keeps us in a state of disconnection. One where we constantly struggle to keep up appearances, and one where we ourselves are no longer able to see who we are.

As a medicine woman, I am intimate with people’s pain. I support them through it. I help them accept and move beyond it. I don’t have the luxury of turning a blind eye.

I know firsthand that if I’m unable to hold space for the pain, I cannot hold space for the light.

I’ve seen successful people hold deep pain within their cells. I’ve seen people who seemingly have everything suffer behind closed doors, with not a soul to confide in besides me. People who cannot share with their friends the struggles they go through.

Here’s the truth though: none of us are immune to pain. We need to stop labeling strength as “never failing,” “never falling.” We need to stop defining strength as the opposite of weakness.

Trust me—and I speak from my personal experience and also as a professional—it takes immense strength and courage to choose life, to choose to show up and do the work when everything is dark and the pain is unbearable.

Having emotions, crying, feeling low, and experiencing deep depression and anxiety are not signs of weakness. They are signs of deep longing—signs from our system that something is not aligned in our lives. It’s our wake-up call! And it takes immense strength to recognise that, to accept it and move through it.

I’ve had the immense joy of meeting people in their pain, of giving them space to wail like there is no tomorrow, to scream like their life is in danger, to shake like they’re in trance.

There is no greater honor than to hold space for people and to see them, all of them, without judgment and offer to support and guide them. It’s magical to witness what happens when we are present with our pain.

You know what happens? It dissolves. It has been seen and acknowledged—so it no longer needs to be there. 

It’s magical. I’ve witnessed it so many times in my bodywork sessions. Our suffering comes not from befriending our pain, not allowing it to coexist with our joy. Our suffering comes from denying the inherent pain that comes with the job description of being human.

We cannot expand our hearts to more beauty without also expanding it to feel more pain.

We are all healers, children of the earth. We all have the power to hold space for others. We all have the power to let down our armour and let people see us, all of us and to also trust that they will still love and choose us.

Our greatest ailment is to serve up only a half-version of ourselves to be loved and accepted. How could that ever be enough? How could it ever be enough to be half-seen, half-loved, half-known? And at the same time, doesn’t it secretly say something about the trust we have in others? Doesn’t it discredit others and their capacity to choose us, just as we are?

Let us share our darkness along with our light, and trust that we can hold space for pain and support each other through it.

The choice is always ours.

Read 5 Comments and Reply

Read 5 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Lilya Sabatier  |  Contribution: 520

author: Lilya Sabatier

Image: Noel Smith Sparrow/Instagram

Editor: Tara Lindsey