Day 328 - Suffering...
Again, something we all do. Some of us more than others. Some of us seemingly have this amazing ability to just take life, let it rain its misery all down on us and still come up with something to be grateful for...these are rare people. I think it is innate. Some people are just born with this spirituality, this ability to wear life like a loose garment. Where they can allow the joy and pain to come and not really seem to make big deal either way.
I had an aunt like that. She lost her entire family save one sister when she was little. Her entire family killed in a car crash. Just like that she was an orphan and left in the care of a teenaged sibling. To say her life was hard was an understatement. The hardships she must have endured must have been great. But you would have never known it from talking to her. She was full of life. She was happy. Sure she suffered, but the suffering was always tempered by the joy she felt at just being alive. She was fun, funny, outgoing, kind, loving, happy and yet she still suffered.
I think people suffer in degrees of quietness. Some people are very loud sufferers. They get something out of the suffering that somehow feels good. Like early on in life, they found out that suffering paid off in some way and then, likely without intention, they set a course that emphasized suffering, and thereby brought about more suffering...
Then there are people who suffer in silence. Some deploy martyrdom as their vehicle for suffering expression which is the loudest form of quiet suffering. Hand to head, they go about life, always the victim, never the perpetrator. Life happens to them and at them and they suffer a lot. Quietly, but in a very loud way.
I tend not to like either type of sufferer. I have a hard time in either camp. I have to work hard to see their pain as legitimate. I do know that this makes me an arrogant ass. It is just that their suffering irritates me. Mostly because of its self reinforcing nature. They have hard wired the suffering into their lives, complain about it often but there is no solution for this that results in a better outcome for them, and in turn you, if you happen to love a person like this...
I do realize that my lack of tolerance in either department, makes me suffer, and to that, I will say, I am working on it. I am trying to find some grace to throw their way, which is an improvement to my rushing in to help or ignoring them completely. Their suffering and particularly, the way they suffer, makes me suffer more, so I tend to want to avoid them. Which is progress for me now that I think about it.
Then there are those that are super private about their suffering. They suffer a lot but cover it up with happiness, joy, positivity and personality. They become these larger than life versions of themselves, but it is all a sham, they are just smoke and mirrors designed to keep you from slowing down long enough to see what is going on with them. “Nothing to see here, please keep it going!”
Until I started this blog, this was my path for suffering. It was a personal thing that I did not trust you with...it was my pain, my suffering and I didn’t want you to have any part in that. I would handle it, thank you very much.
But I have learned that pain shared is halved and joy shared is doubled if I keep my motives pure. If I am just using the sharing of my pain to manipulate you into doing what I want you to do, misery is always the result. But, if I am genuinely sharing my pain with you because I want you to see me, open up to you so that you also have a forum to share your pain...then I am really growing and changing and making some pretty huge efforts to be a better version of me.
Opening up to others, the pain you feel, is hard. But I have found it almost equally hard to tolerate and experience the pain of others. I kind of treated other’s pain in an arrogant way for a long time, like “your pain does not compare to mine so it is less valid. OR, your pain is so much greater than my pain, that I feel unable to help you.” What I have finally realized is that pain, suffering, is all the same when you get down to it. My ability to feel and experience pain and suffering enables me to show up for you when it is your turn in the pain barrel. By coming to know my own well, I create a space where you can share yours if you want to.
But not everyone wants to. Some people want to clutch their pain and loss and suffering close to them, always in an effort to stop the madness. Prevent more of the suffering from happening. Unfortunately, from my experience, this only creates more of both: pain and suffering. AND, it does not allow for intimacy and true connection to happen.
What I have learned about suffering is that it really is optional. I can choose to take the cards dealt me, and create a fabulous story where I am forever the victim and thus create a pain laden life. Or, I can recognize that pain is inevitable but I don’t really have to suffer about it. I can share it, I can own it, I can learn from the things that make me suffer. Most of which come from old ideas about myself and you that aren’t even true, just magical thinking that momentarily makes me feel better...or not.
I want to live life today, brave, courageous, going after all that my heart desires. Free to allow anyone to walk in, with the knowledge that I can share my pain and I can handle the sharing of yours. I want to grant space in my life for the things that happen that smash you, but also for the things that happen that make you buoyantly alive. I want to walk into each day, open, receptive and willing to feel all each day brings to me. The ups, the downs, the love, the desire, the fine cutting edge place where I actually live life instead of just continually filtering it through a storyline designed to keep me safe. Safety is good but living is better.
Suffering is part of life. But I get to decide how much a part of my life it is. I suffer every day, it is part of my day. It has its proper and rightful place. But it does not consume me anymore. I take it in stride. “Oh, suffering, hello there, can get you anything?” But like all feelings, I know without a doubt, they are fleeting and always and forever will be replaced with some new and amazing one headed toward the heart or the head.
My time now is best spent going for the love. Love of others, love of self, love of the whole ramshackle ridiculousness that is life. I have no idea where I am going, but I know that I am having the best life along the way. Some days I am terrified, some days elated. I am always acutely aware that it is in our nature to suffer, all of us, every one. But I can be joyously alive, even whilest I suffer. And this is the magic of it all.