For The Love Of Pain
I used to be very successful at blocking out other people’s pain. I’d hear stories on the news or TV and marvel at those around me who would seem to react to the plight of strangers as if they were dear friends. Why did they care, I’d wonder. Was it just a performance to prove how much more empathetic they?
Not coincidentally, I presume, I was also successful at blocking out much of my own pain. It seems to go hand in hand. But, somehow or another, I’ve become less successful at both things, which I ironically consider a big success. Now I get to feel all kinds of longing and grief. Daily.
I’m delighted to be able to let the sorrow in, since I suspect that feeling pain will allow me to feel all kinds of things, including joy. We’ll see. So far, the main thing I’m feeling is the pain. And not just my own.
My ability to feel other people’s suffering makes me ever more tender towards them. And it makes me wonder why we’re all in so much pain. If the meme wasn’t so worn out, I’d ask who hurt us. But I also already know. Our parents, their parents, our friends, teachers, bosses, lovers, siblings, evolution by natural selection, the impersonal, profit-oriented techno-industrial complex, Adam and Eve, Lucy. You name it.
Now that I am feeling both your pain and mine, surprisingly, I’m also feeling more connected. Pain unites us. It‘s humbling and leveling. And relatable. Struggling makes us real and personal to each other, even if we’ll never meet.
Misery is a universal language, like music, and laughter. No matter who we are, pain is pain, and we get it when someone is suffering. Our hearts go out. But only if we have access to this part of ourselves. And only when someone has the courage to reveal that they’re struggling.
I can’t quite say that pain feels good, but it feels real, and real feels good. When I can touch my grief, I am more whole. It reconnects me to an authentic part of myself that has been severed off and stuffed away underneath my anxious, addictive, busy mind.
There is precious freedom and release in allowing my feelings to flow into whatever shape and form they will, even when I’m not exactly enjoying them. It’s when my emotions get blocked and I feel nothing, including the lethal quantities of tension I am holding in my body, that I suffer the most. Finding tears and anguish is simply divine compared with that.
When I can manage to tolerate grief and allow my sensations to flow without constraint, they can occasionally transcend even my own boundaries and expand into awe itself.
If that’s not something worth feeling awful about, what is?