Editor’s note: This article refers to spiritual concepts. For more information, read Lovefraud’s statement on spiritual recovery.
By Waleuska Lazo
So here I was grieving, crying and feeling sorry for myself. I had stayed in a situation that was not healthy for my life. Yet I stayed because avoiding that pain was a stronger emotion than facing it. The truth is I was too scared to feel pain. I was too scared to feel the absence of not having ‘that someone’ next to me. What I did not realize was that I was already facing the pain that came as a daily dose of poison. At first, you are unaware of it. It comes camouflaged with little lies and lack of affection. The doses increased with indiscretions and lack of safety.
Yes, I did not want to face the intoxicating pain that would later leave me breathless and lifeless. Consumed by the empty hole in the pit of my stomach. You know what I am talking about, don’t you? You have felt it also. I tried to postpone the inevitable. I suffered a death by a thousand cuts, as Esther Perel nicely said it. I chose to avoid the ultimate death and instead, I settled for a daily and slow death nonetheless.
Sadly, it is through our painful experiences that we learn the most about our inner strength. It is through our pain that we reveal to ourselves who we are at the core.
I ask myself, “What would have happened if I had not been so afraid of the pain?”
“What if I had looked at pain through a different set of lenses, a different perspective?”
“Would I have stayed to suffer for so long? Or would I have entered the storm and be done with it?”
If I had known then what I know today, my life would have taken a different turn. Instead, I died daily for a period of three years, each day my daily poison stripped me of my courage and strength.
What can you do?
You can learn to embrace your pain by seeing it for what it is. Or you can get stuck on the pain. Remember what Buddha said, “Pain is an inevitable part of life. Suffering is optional. ”
The way I see it, I had two choices: Let my painful circumstance take away my willpower and give up. Or I could fight to find some way to dig myself out of the hole I was in.
I felt the Universe was asking me to accept responsibility for what was happening. Of course, I did not create this pain. I also did not deserve what was happening to me. Yes, I could have continued to play the victim, I did that very well! Instead, I opted to take responsibility for what was happening to me and tried to look for the gift in this pain.
“The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity—even under the most difficult circumstances—to add a deeper meaning to his life.” — Victor Frankl
Things happen for a reason, remember? So there had to be some meaning to be drawn from all this hurting. I made it my mission to get up from my depressed state. I forced myself out of bed, after days of just lying in it, and said to myself, “Get up and find the lesson in all this.”
By accepting responsibility for my pain, I learned that I am strong. I thought for a long time that I was weak. I had relinquished my power, and I had forgotten who I was.
“Feeling the pain is a blessing in disguise. It is underneath that pain that real healing can take place.” — Waleuska Lazo
When you are in pain, it is too easy to forget what you have and focus only on what you lack. Getting out of this mindset is not easy either. You will hear people tell you, “This will pass,” “You will be fine again,” “Forget about it and move on,” “There are worse things in life, get over it,” and the list goes on.
Intuitively you know they are right. But what gives these people the right to minimize our pain? The truth is, nobody knows how we feel because we all experience pain and joy in unique ways. So I will not tell you to get over your pain or that you need to let it go and move on. Only you can arrive at that determination yourself.
But what I can tell you is this: The minute you choose to see your pain for what it is, without attachment, the meaning for that pain will shift. There is freedom that comes from embracing pain. I am a living testimony of it. My liberation? It came when I allowed myself to finally embrace the pain. I stopped fighting the pain. I allowed the pain to penetrate every part of my soul. That’s when I realized I was so much more than my thoughts and my suffering. I HAD THE POWER TO CHOOSE how I was going to continue to react to it!
“Everything can be taken from a man, but one thing: the last of the human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Victor Frankl
It was not easy; I will not lie to you.
It requires fortitude.
It would have been easier for me to keep the self-inflicting pain. Staying the victim who questioned only the why of things. “Why is this happening to me?” became the echo in my life.
But I chose to be the brave. I changed my perspective towards my circumstance. I chose to believe that things did not happen TO ME, they happen FOR ME.
I chose to believe that the Universe was my friend and it was colluding to help me achieve all my dreams. When you have this mindset, you’re going to look for the lessons in everything that you encounter, good or bad. I began to think the Universe was here to support and protect me. As a result, I looked at my pain as something happening FOR ME to learn a valuable lesson. A lesson placed there by the Universe, not to hurt me, but to propel me closer to my true destiny.
Thankfully my pain gifted me with the ability to rediscover myself. I began to get up early and force myself out of bed. I went to the gym even though I did not want to. I decided to read. I read some amazing books that inspired my soul. I started to write again. I began to think of the things I had in my life that were amazing.
“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.” – Victor Frankl
What is the first step? You make a decision. In that very instance, you choose to change your perspective, is when it happens. I shifted all my energy from the fear and anger I was in and focused on LOVE and GRATITUDE. I began to breathe deep and opened myself to appreciate the things I had and focused less on the ones I was lacking. The moment I allowed myself to feel the pain I was in, without shame, was the moment I began to heal.
“You are defined by how you rise, not by how you fall.”
I would like to correct Freud. The real aim of human existence is not to secure pleasure and avoid pain. The real aim of human existence to me is to find MEANING in our lives. So find your reason for living. It has to be something that is bigger than yourself. It cannot be your lover, your material possessions, nor your ego-driven goals. Find something that makes you want to get up in the mornings. Something that makes your life here on earth worth living.
“He who has a WHY to live for can bear with almost any HOW.” — Victor Frankl
For me, it’s being the best mother I can be for my beautiful girls. They are my number one reason for living. They are my ‘why’ to endure any ‘how.’
The second is being able to uplift others through my writing. I derive meaning from being of service to you by sharing my truth. Hoping that my experiences help you find some perspective on your own lives.
Learn to live a life of purpose. Live from a place of gratitude. If you do that, nothing will defeat you. If a person comes and leaves, well it was never meant to be permanent in your life. You will be strong to face the setbacks and circumstances that come. You will learn and grow each time from your pain as you search for the gifted lessons it brings. You will most likely continue to experience pain. But you will not get stuck in the suffering because your perspective would be different.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” — Wayne Dyer
In facing my pain, I learned that I am more than just my thoughts, my body and circumstances. I am not defined by the ‘one who loves me’ anymore, nor by what others think of me. I learned that I could overcome pain and not attach meaning to it, other than the lesson it brings with it. I learned that I can endure and that in truth, all things pass.
The biggest blessing in my life was not being afraid to face the pain. It was this pain that allowed me to break from the inside so that the light could get through. It was in this pain that I evolved as a person. If it had not been for this pain, I would not have realized how strong I truly am.
Showing gratitude for my painful circumstances led me to appreciate all that is good in my life. One cannot appreciate the light unless you have seen darkness. One cannot appreciate joy without experiencing sorrow. Health without fallen to illness. Love without the feeling of loss. Abundance without lack. A rainbow cannot form without rain.
Start today. Don’t wait a single second longer. Embrace whatever pain you are going through at this very moment. Close your eyes. Sit still in silence and just let the pain go right through you. Don’t try to control it. Give yourself to it and just let it consume you. Face it head on and don’t judge it. It is there for a reason. It is in this pain that your humanity is reclaimed.
There is something beautiful in knowing that we feel pain because it means we are ALIVE! It gives you a clear connection to being intensely human. The pain is there to remain you that you can hurt, cry, love and laugh all at the same time. That, my friends, is called HAVING A HUMAN EXPERIENCE!
I loved Glennon Doyle Melton when she said: “feeling the pain is learning to keep your heart open while it breaks.” It is only when you face your pain head-on and work through it, that you find true freedom.
As for me now?
No person that comes in or out of my life will ever break me. I exist for so much more than my circumstances. I know that I cannot make anyone responsible for my happiness or my pain.
Did I like this painful experience I went through?
But I wouldn’t change a thing.
This painful experience is what transformed me from feeling being a victim to becoming a warrior. I love that I can write about my journey and be vulnerable with you about my feelings without shame. Yes, I was hurt. Haven’t we all? In that respect, I am not unique. I am not the first to get hurt nor will I be the last. What I did with my pain, however, is what sets me apart.
What are you going to do? Are you going to look at the darkness in your circunstances or you going to look for the light in you?
The choice is yours!
See more of Waleuska Lazo’s writing at waleuskalazo.com.