Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Pain as the Pathway to Peace

As I continue on my journey to healing and recovery, I recognize more clearly than ever that it is the core underlying issues of self-esteem, insecurity and much more that is actually being addressed as I learn to care for myself, refrain from using old, ineffective coping mechanisms and keep my side of the street clean while giving others room to grow. This does not mean that I never want to act out. In fact, the desire to seek comfort (what food, sex and love are for me) can be far greater when I'm doing work on resolving the trauma of my childhood, which I have been doing lately.

This weekend I was preparing for a few trauma healing exercises and my body began to ache with physical pain, stiffness and discomfort just reading about the various stages of healing we go through when recovering from childhood sexual abuse. The pain, which has been carried in my body since childhood, deserves a chance to be felt and experienced, and released. No one wants to hurt unmercifully. Still I know that if I can endure the pain while it is here -- being experienced in its fullness -- rather than eating it away or losing it in the numbness of sexual/romantic intrigue and pursuit, I will be releasing it and making room in my body for comfort and growth. I pray for the strength to feel the pain and to face the future with a new perspective.

I thought this reading was perfect for me today. I share it in hopes that it helps someone else.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009
From the book The Language of Letting Go

Stopping Our Pain

Some of my feelings have been stored so long they have freezer burn.
—Beyond Codependency

There are many sources of pain in our life. Those of us recovering from adult children and codependency issues frequently have a cesspool of unresolved pain from the past. We have feelings, sometimes from early childhood to the present, that either hurt too much to feel or that we had no support and permission to deal with.

There are other inevitable sources of pain in our life too. There is the sadness and grief that comes when we experience change, even good change, as we let go of one part of our life, and begin our journey into the new.

There is pain in recovery, as we begin allowing ourselves to feel while dropping our protective shield of denial.

There is the pain that leads and guides us into better choices for our future.

We have many choices about how to stop this pain. We may have experimented with different options. Compulsive and addictive behaviors stop pain - temporarily. We may have used alcohol, other drugs, relationships, or sex to stop our pain.

We may talk compulsively or compulsively focus on other people and their needs as a way to avoid or stop our pain.

We may use religion to avoid our feelings.

We may resort to denial of how we are feeling to stop our pain.

We may stay so busy that we don't have time to feel. We may use money, exercise, or food to stop our pain.

We have many choices. To survive, we may have used some of these options, only to find that these were Band Aids - temporary pain relievers that did not solve the problem. They did not really stop our pain; they postponed it.

In recovery, there is a better choice about how we may stop pain. We can face it and feel it. When we are ready, with our Higher Power's help, we can summon the courage to feel the pain, let it go, and let the pain move forward - into a new decision, a better life.

We can stop the behaviors we are doing that cause pain, if that's appropriate. We can make a decision to remove ourselves from situations that cause repeated, similar pain. We can learn the lesson our pain is trying to teach us.

If we are being pelted by pain, there is a lesson. Trust that idea. Something is being worked out in us. The answer will not come from addictive or other compulsive behaviors; we will receive the answer when we feel our feelings.

It takes courage to be willing to stand still and feel what we must feel. Sometimes, we have what seems like endless layers of pain inside us. Pain hurts. Grief hurts. Sadness hurts. It does not feel good. But neither does denying what is already there; neither does living a lifetime with old and new pockets of pain packed, stored, and stacked within.

It will only hurt for a while, no longer than necessary, to heal us. We can trust that if we must feel pain, it is part of healing, and it is good. We can become willing to surrender to and accept the inevitable painful feelings that are a good part of recovery.

Go with the flow, even when the flow takes us through uncomfortable feelings. Release, freedom, healing, and good feelings are on the other side.

Today, I am open and willing to feel what I need to feel. I am willing to stop my compulsive behaviors. I am willing to let go of my denial. I am willing to feel what I need to feel to be healed, healthy, and whole.


heidi said...

thank you- definitely needed to read this today...well last week would've been better...but i'm was a day late in my meditation book for a reason, i guess to shed some light on things today.

Practical Addict said...

Thank you. I am newly surprised each time I am reminded that pain can be a good thing, if I uncover it with honesty and care. I say, "Oh yeah, that's right", and then I feel like a human being.

vicariousrising said...

I love this post. I've never read Beatty's books and I really ought to. I love the quote about the freezer burned feelings.

Willow said...

Great post, once again Rae. It can be sooo painful to face our inner wounds but in the end I find that the pain of "stuffing" is truly incomparable to doing the work of healing. I've seen you prove it to yourself again and again through your blog. You are the picture of courage.