It’s those moments that you are lying in shavasana at the end of a yoga class thinking, though you’re not supposed to, with a tear running down your cheek. And you realize that although some moments in that class were physically painful, it’s over now – the hard part only lasted a minute or two. You come back to reality and realize that the very stressor that motivated you to attend the class in the first place is still on your mind afterwards. And although it hurts, the pain isn’t so fleeting. This time, you can’t just power through for a moment in time.
We have all experienced it. The ups and downs of life. The facets of change, loss, pain and confusion. And while sometimes its change that causes pain, other times it’s pain that motivates change. Either way, these messy and confusing aspects of life are unavoidable. And I have come to learn that whether you are rich or poor or young or old – you will face these challenges at some point or another. I just so happen to have recent experience with all of the above – and as I am sharing with you, I am learning about me.
Prior to my surgery, I experienced severe headaches on a daily basis. There was so much pressure building inside my skull, that with every move I could feel my heart beat rhythmically in my head. These headaches would often lead to migraines – which would put me out for days. And although I got accustom to taking Advil often, non-headache days were so limited that I could count them on one hand.
This is how I lived my life for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until I got a diagnosis that I finally gained some hope that perhaps these headaches won’t last forever. I got so used to the pain that although my skull was drilled open and stitched back together 28 times, post-op pain was not an issue. I was able to discard the T3’s early on and I can honestly say I don’t get headaches anymore. And as crazy as this sounds, I now reflect in honour of my pain and am grateful for the strength it gave me. Because without it, perhaps my recovery would have looked much different. Perhaps the pain would be so unbearable that it would hinder my progress. And although I suffered for so long, this threshold has become the beacon of my strength and should not be overlooked.
When you are 30 years old, it is likely that your body is on your side. And as I am often told, my age is helping me ‘bounce back’ after brain surgery. I believe it. However, I am learning that perhaps the opposite is true for the recovery of emotional pain. Perhaps life experience that comes with age is the benefit of growing older and that strength and wisdom comes from being exposed to challenges throughout the course of life. Or, maybe age has nothing to do with it at all. Maybe emotional pain is a teacher that shows up to strengthen us whether we like it or not. Perhaps it is showing us that you can only numb your feelings for so long before you learn to cope. And just maybe, the pain that breaks us down is the very thing we need to become whole.
At this point in my life, emotional pain is very present. Between confusion about what was, what is and what will be – and the unsettling feelings of change, I feel many emotions deeply. And although I am told often “you are so strong”, I don’t always feel that way. However, I am getting there. I am strong in many ways. And in the ways that I am not, I am learning where I need to grow. I am learning that the events that trigger an emotional reaction are the golden tickets to what you have to work on. I am learning that the truest source of empathy comes from personal experience. I am learning that you can create a bond so special when you are raw and real and vulnerable. I am learning that it is essential to forgive yourself for doing the best you can with the knowledge you had at the time. And most importantly, I am unlearning patterns that I have held onto for so long and with that, I am learning to let go.
We are all one in the same. You are me and I am you. We are living different lives yet we all share the same needs. And the need to learn from pain is just as relevant in your life as it is in mine. To develop strength when all else fails is to embrace the ugly and hard moments and let them complete their cycle. Don’t make excuses “I didn’t need that anyway”. Rather, respect the fact that you lost something and it sucks because you cared about it. I don’t want to tell you that there is purpose for your pain – because that may not be true to you. But, I will say that the pain you feel today and the pain I feel tomorrow will without a doubt build strength that will be needed later in life – even if you don’t believe me now.
Pain; the gateway to our inner strength and wisdom.
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