Fire. // Suffering: Part II

Updated: Jul 2, 2018

Part Two of Three: On suffering, emotion, and what it’s like to walk through the fire. It’s not for everyone, but it is for every one. { Part One }

I stepped into fire almost a year ago. And what's interesting is, where I expected disintegration, I was met with pounding clarity and sustaining warmth. Because stepping into fire finally got me honest.

Of course, the fire I’m talking about is not actual flames (though I know a few who have been touched by the real thing, lately).

This fire is the one we see when our eyes turn inward, taking a good hard look at ourselves. The metaphorical symbol for the rightfully cliché thing that makes us come alive and sweat, all the same. It's a truth-fire. A sincere and down-right frank heat. What keeps our soul burning is the thing that lights us up when we get real honest. Honest like: I need help. Honest like: I’m scared out of my ever-living mind. Honest like: I’m imploding and exploding and I’m seeing a pattern. Honest like: I’m angry. Honest like: It hurts and I have no clue why. Honest like: Enough. I gotta know why. Honest like: I’m so unsure of myself. Is there any significance to me? I’m turning answers of my worth over to loose hands. Honest like: Maybe they don’t have my answers, and never did. Honest like: Am I okay? Should I be better than I am? How can I do that? And why? Honest like: Good God, if who I am isn’t enough, what will ever qualify? Honest like: I’m blood-angry at oppressive systems. Mechanisms that suck vulnerable beings under the rip of their ego-tide. Honest like: People matter more than ideas! Honest like: Can I do this life? Can I be a person? Can I be human who is woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend? How do I participate in life without losing myself? Honest like: How do people do this? How do people live? Honest like: I’m having trouble feeling love. Feeling joy. Feeling alive. Honest like: The needs are too great. I want to run. Why? Something is behind this. Enough. I gotta know why.

After years of tucking honesty behind bookshelves and canned goods, way back there in the closet corner, and beneath the wooden floor plank that creaks a bit, honesty wouldn’t let me hide anymore.

I think little and large fires crash into our life, and we are often left no choice but to respond. To say, "Excuse me? You pummeled over my being. I’m toast and I don’t like it. What is going on?”

For me, it happened like this. Everett, my son, was born - and though postpartum depression was the main influencer demanding that I crawl straight into a therapists’ office, more hidden corners of honesty came with me. And even more, they were illuminated once I looked straight at that fire. Shining in on all of my life. I let the heat reveal. And some scared, yet honest, questions tentatively took a big gulpy inhale, and then sighed to be finally found.

So, I take my questions and into the fire we go. Into that hot and smoky creature that will tell me how it really is. The thing that will actually tell me the truth. It’s the way inward. And most probably, down. The valley is where the river runs, anyway.

Honest like: This better work.

Listen. The fire isn’t faint. But it isn’t fury. It isn’t a concierge, nor is it a bully. It is there to expose the hidden truth when we’ve had enough of ‘smiling precious’ through actual pain. It’s there to allow you to say, “This hurts!!! And this isn’t okay!!!” The fire rolls in so we have a chance to break up with this counterfeit life we’re fronting with. It doesn’t feel right at first. It feels like “NO!” and all synonyms alike. Because this kind of fire starts as a siphoning of poison, those loops in my head that would play about how I’m not-enough and such and such, as the loops do. This fire does the hard job of burning up the mean and nasty that I was so afraid would end up true. And the burning can look scary from the outside. But can I tell you something, golden one? Here's the secret from the inside: As fast as it comes in, making it feel foreign and scary, it will then take a hard “U” just as quickly and will become one-of-few that turns around and gives right back to you. Yes, friend. It gives back. Let me explain.

It was in the fire that I learned new realities: I can be taken care of. I've always known that I have need, but what was new to me in the fire is this: It’s okay to have need. You don't need to pretend that you don't. And another treasure-line: It's okay for that need to be met. It was in the fire that I first learned how to take care of myself. To love out and to love in. It was in the fire that I learned to set clear and loving boundaries, not as a means to contend with another or to hurt, but to allow the kind of room my entire being needed. It was in the fire that came a kind of warmth I never knew I was allowed to have. I learned that I have personhood. And that matters.

Because as Martha Beck would instill toward you, the fire will burn the poison. And while it does, it will either expose the most you that you are, or it will warm you, nourish you, give to you, as heat does. If we're going to go in to this hot beast, well friend - we might as well cozy up and get some #hygge out of it.

Inside the changing, inside the detoxification of a life lived imperfectly and broken, the honesty of this fire showed up as a maker and a friend, a helper and a presence. The fire gave permission. Permission to take up space. To be human. To want or to need.

The fire reveals what isn’t working. And you get to sink into the warmth of what it offers to you. Decision. You get to decide how to move forward. You get to decide what does work, to let life fill you in entirety. And when you're full, you get to pass the empowerment along and pour a glass for someone else who might need the permission also.

It’s okay to tuck away if you need to. It’s okay to stop the show, to slow it all down, to let it get messy, to get real quiet. It’s okay to take a beat, or five hundred beats.

It’s okay for your life to look differently than everyone around. It’s okay to choose something different because that direction is healthiest for you. It’s okay to not produce a single thing this week, this month, this entire year.

It’s okay to say, “No” and mean it, or in that case, "Yes" and mean it. It’s okay to answer the question, “How are you?” with “Medium” or “Meh” or “Not great” or “Shitty.” It’s okay to be exactly how you are, right now, in your full honesty, in this moment, at any given time, in any space, wherever you are.

It’s okay to gather your trusted ones close and to show every emotion you’ve ever needed to. Real love doesn’t carry conditions, and you’ll find in time, the lucky few who love you boundlessly.

It’s okay to show up your most unique-self, to place any masks in a nearby recycler, and to show your every mark and enjoy it. It’s okay to speak, to vocalize, and to do so as you actually intend. It’s okay to have an opinion, to have a thought, to have feeling.

It’s okay to carry hope and anger in the exact same hand, gratitude and ache in the same sentence. It’s okay to embrace that sometimes life is Both-And.

It’s okay to get curious, to question, to bow out, or move toward. It’s okay to mess it all up, to say sorry, to learn, to try again.

Oh, my favorite companions and deeply loved friends, I say this to you and to my whirlwind self: It’s okay to be a person, to have need, to have heart. It’s okay to take up space in the world, to have being. “No one belongs here more than you.” (Brené Brown)

If we’re going to step into fires, we might as well let them warm us.


To take it further by practicing positive embodiment, grab a few solitary minutes (6 minutes) and listen in on this guided meditation, curated for just this kind of needed warmth. Enjoy the gratuity of nourishment, as you listen.

{ Music scored by On Earth, Before Dawn } { Audio engineered by Loft Light Media }