Sometimes, I think we are under the impression that only some people have work to do.
If we can tell ourselves that our lives weren't as bad as that persons, or at least that kind of stuff didn't happen to me, or thank god I'm not as messed up as her, then we assume we are ok and we can just carry on.
And yes, perhaps there is some truth to that. You may not have experienced the same degree of trauma as someone else, you may be functioning better than some people or you may tell yourself that your parents didn't do terrible things to you so therefore you don't need to do the deep work of healing pain and trauma.
We all need to do the work of healing our pain.
I've had many conversations with people that have started with them describing their perfect childhood to me, which usually gets me curious. All of us experienced things that were too much for us to handle, times we weren't seen and it devastated us, needs that went unmet, psychological woundings that were so distressing that we formed our primary survival strategies in response to them. These events or messages were so hurtful that much of our personal style and sensitivities have their origins there. However, as children, we weren't able to name them as such, so we internalized ourselves as being the problem and went about finding a way to survive, all without our conscious mind knowing. It’s amazing to me that we not only use our survival strategies to survive but that we also reframe these strategies for ourselves so that we see them as noble. That way, we don’t ever need to question them.
For instance, I learned to create a socially acceptable, nice, funny, not angry personality and call it kind and loving, noble even, but really, I had a deep need to avoid anger, my own or other's. I was desperately afraid of finding myself alone if I truly showed myself. Someone once suggested that the reason I had 6 kids was so that I would never be alone. I think that's true but I had framed it as something I was doing for god and would never have even looked there for some part of me that needed healing.
The problem is that wholeness, transformation, healing, means I have greater access to myself, not less. I actually need to have access to all of my emotions, not just some of them. I can't say I'm just not an angry person and meanwhile be using my muscles to contain my anger, or worse yet, turning it against myself. In fact, Gabor Mate says that a lot of diseases can be traced to people stuffing anger (and people not being able to say no- Check out his book, 'When the Body Says No'). I can not only stuff it, but I can reframe it for myself and tell myself that I don't even have it, AND, I can put myself on a moral high ground, being thankful that I'm not like those angry people, or not like my dad in particular.
Maybe for you, you need all your ducks in a row but you tell yourself you just like to be organized but something happens to you when things are out of order and since it will be painful to look at that, you tell yourself something noble about what you are doing. Perhaps, you like to keep everyone laughing, never a dull moment, but really you don't want to look at pain, yours or anyone else's. We have an incredible ability to reframe our experience so we won't question our behaviour. Brilliant, really. And it works, until it doesn't. Usually, it stops working for us in our 40's and 50's, for sure, and we have to look at what's been done to us and what we have done to others, all while holding ourselves with great compassion.
What frustrates me, is that we do not have elders that are watching and waiting for that moment in our journey when it's time to start looking at and healing our pain. No one saying, "
YES! Welcome! We have been waiting for you. We will show you the way."
We don't have models around us of people who have transformed themselves and their pain, so there is no one to light the way. We, therefore, wrongly assume that this is what being a grown up is, or that who we see in the mirror is who we are.
Richard Rohr says, "If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it."
This is actually the kind of culture we live in; untransformed people, transmitting their pain. This is maybe why teens don't want to grow up and be adults...who is modelling to them what healthy adulthood looks like? Who is inspiring them about what is possible for the future? Who is showing them what to do with their pain? How not to transmit it.
So, I guess what is here for me today is the idea that everyone has to work with their pain. No one is exempt. We have all locked parts of ourselves away. We all created personalities, that were in some form, a response to what we were allowed to be in our family of origin, or personalities that are about hiding from our pain. There are ways we are not showing up in the world, things in ourselves that we can't access. As Leonard Cohen says, we all have cracks, that's how the light gets in. I would add, that's also how your light gets out.
Really, it's the whole point.
It's our task in becoming fully human, to make something out of our brokenness.
Perhaps people would not be so overwhelmed that painful things would happen to themselves or their kids if they knew that it was possible to heal.
And it is, you know,
possible to heal.
You can transform your pain.
In fact, your pain and trauma wants to be healed.
There is a beautiful way that you get to come along side your pain and heal it.
So, instead of thinking only some people have pain to heal from, realize it's the job that belongs to all of us. No one escapes this journey. Pain isn't the problem, our lack of transformation is, keeping ourselves locked down is. Pretending transformation is someone else's journey, not our own, is the problem. No, it's not about blame but it is about feeling the pain we were not allowed to admit or feel and healing it. It's about allowing ourselves to have our experiences...to be able to say, "Actually, that really did hurt." and to let ourselves feel the pain. Then, it's about healing the wounded one of us.
What would it be like if we knew how to support people in their pain and that instead of thinking that healing it was only the job of a few people, we realized that it's the task, the journey, the invitation, for all of us, to transform our pain so we don't transmit it.
It's the beauty of being fully human. You can heal and you need to. There's beauty in discovering our brokenness, in coming along side ourselves in order to heal. There's beauty in coming along side each other, in showing others that they can heal too.
Transformation, we all need it.