So much of what we’re going to feel as human beings is uncomfortable. Longing, loneliness, rage, bitterness, resentment, insecurity, doubt, fear, shame, guilt, jealousy…none of these are comfortable, and we aren’t taught how to sit with these feelings, how to lean into them and breathe. For so many people, the impulse is to do something, to fix it, to push it down, to make it go away, but these are just natural sensations. That’s all loneliness is, it’s an uncomfortable sensation in your heart. It hurts, it aches, but it’s temporary and if you open to it you might also open to the understanding that you’re longing for connection. Maybe some part of you feels invisible or unworthy of love, and what you want more than anything is for someone to see you and know you and embrace you; that’s beautiful and understandable. Maybe there’s some healing that needs to happen within you before you can truly allow yourself to be vulnerable with someone else, but if you run out the door, or open that bottle of wine, or pick up the phone, or try to shop the feeling away you miss an opportunity to know yourself and not knowing yourself is the loneliest thing there is.
If you’re enraged and you allow yourself to feel that feeling, if you loosen your grip on the story around why you’re angry, you might start to feel something underneath that rage. People get angry when they feel misunderstood, wronged or discarded. Those are some of the most painful feelings we have. Avoiding them doesn’t diminish them, it strengthens them. Alienating yourself from other people won’t lessen those feelings, either, it will increase them. What we resist, persists as the saying goes. Intense sensations are markers for places where we have healing to do, places where we really ought to sit down and dig our hands in the dirt. A lot of people get so freaked out by the discomfort, they run like hell and wonder why the pain never goes away for long. Life is not something to “get through”, it’s something to experience fully.
It’s human to crave the things that feel good and to try to avoid the things that don’t, but that is also the root of all suffering and it’s wildly unrealistic. No one has a life full of only good things and if they did, they wouldn’t be able to distinguish them from anything else. There’s gradation, it’s not a level playing field. Some people will suffer the “normal” amount, and some will suffer so much it makes your head spin and your heart hurt. In the end we are all going to die. That’s about the only thing we know for sure and even that is shrouded in uncertainty. The body will die, but what about the energy that is you? What about your spirit, or your essence or your soul, or whatever you want to call it? I don’t believe that dies, I think it lives on in the people we’ve loved and the places where we’ve given our hearts. You might think that’s wrong, and you might be right. No one will know for sure until they exhale for the final time, so I don’t see any use in arguing about it. This life is full of unanswered questions, suffering, confusion, heartache, longing and things that just make you wonder why, but it’s also full of beauty and love and the kind of joy that makes your heart expand if you let it, of laughter and connection and moments of absolute bliss. There’s piercing beauty in suffering, too, if you examine it carefully enough. Even if you’ve lost someone and you have no idea how you’ll go on, there’s beauty in having loved like that and there’s enormous power in opening to things as they are.
There’s a funny thing about opening to your pain as well as all the obvious beauty in life. Your heart may break, but you can let the breaking soften you. You can also let it harden you, but you’ve probably noticed human beings are not born with shells. We are not born with armor. We don’t thrive when we hide or develop a thick skin. We are born with the strength of being able to love and feel and express, to recognize it when we love, to see when we’ve been given a gift, and to open it slowly, and with gratitude. It’s very easy to lose the thread.
Opening to love does not mean you embrace everything. Some things cannot be embraced. Some things will break you, but just as human beings aren’t born with shells, we aren’t made of glass, either. Rumi on this, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” You can glue the broken pieces together with love and kindness and time, with patience and compassion, and with the ability to hold even more light. When life breaks you, let it open you.
Wishing you the strength to face reality as it is, and sending so much love,