Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: Jorinde Berben
During the past few years, I have spent hours upon hours on personal work, trying to get beyond the things that I kept running into. When I say ‘kept running into’ that should give you a clue already as to how well I was doing in getting ‘beyond’ these things. I wrote a blog post on this specific thing as well entitled: Am I still not over this?.
When I was in the hospital for an operation on Thursday and Friday, there was a lady in the room with me who was very instrumental in keeping me distracted from the anxiety before the operation and the pain afterwards. She did this by recounting much of her life story, and over the course of the two days, I heard the same themes returning.
On Friday, we attended the funeral of someone in our family, a fantastic woman, mother to four children but also to all who entered her home. The grief over losing her is so big, and though it is painful, I could see that there’s no healing from something like this. Some things just don’t heal, and that’s okay.
Whether it’s old trauma, grief, or the pain we feel over a lost dream, some things will stay with us our entire lives. When we try to heal our pain at all costs, when we keep telling ourselves we’re not okay until we’ve worked through every single link in the chain of our complexity, we may forget to make room for those parts that don’t need to be healed, really. Even if they are painful, some parts just need a space to exist. Grieving over the effect of my divorce on my children just needs a space to exist in. The hurt my partner felt when I told him this particularly hurtful thing 3 years ago, just needs room to be in. Some of our hurt, our pain, and our trauma is going to stick around. If not forever, then at least for a long time.
During the women’s retreat I attended a few months ago, one of the facilitators at one point said the following sentence that really resonated with me:
If I can allow it, perhaps it will let me go.
This idea of allowing our pain to let go of us instead of the other way around is one that really resonated with me. It actually felt like a relief, like a cramp that was finally able to relax. Maybe I didn’t need to push stuff away from me, work through it actively and try to get rid of my problems. Maybe I just need to create the space for those things to occur at their own pace, in their own way.
We’re so quick to want to get rid of our pain. But there is wisdom in our suffering. It is the root of our empathy and the guiding lantern to what we really want in life. It can be the engine behind change and the glue that connects us to others. Our grief shows us the depth of our love. Our trauma can be the gateway into our deepest selves, as well as the trigger that draws us away from our deliberate choices and into old patterns. It can be both of those things at the same time. In the immortal words of a famously complex musician:
There is a crack in everything.Leonard Cohen
That’s how the light gets in.
It would be cruel (and untrue!) to say that I wish any pain upon any of you. I obviously hope you suffer as little as possible. Yet, when you do (we all suffer in this life, no one gets a free pass), I hope it can bring you some of the gems that are sometimes carried at the heart of pain: love, gratitude, understanding and deep connection.