Part One 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.
This is for the achey ones. This is for the ones whose heart hurts. Who feel suffering, and who wonder if feeling it is shameful.
I would never ask any hallway door of your soul to get opened without mine getting opened-honest, too. Reciprocity in a relationship is everything, lopsided intimacy always a red flag. Most of us, if we’re willing, prefer “we.” Here’s to we. I am, forever, with you.
While the specificity behind the fabric of suffering may be spared, wounds still a touch too delicate, we can climb into the space of pain together because it is in sharing that we find new worlds of wholeness. Together, we can navigate our connectedly-separate human essence in it’s blurry beauty.
Let’s get curious and tell the truth, however jagged, along the way.
// PART I: It's okay. //
It’s quiet around here, because life is happening, robust and complicated and beloved and slow. It’s also quiet around here because that’s how things go when things are really painful.
Yea. Both of that.
Life is happening robust and painful, good and grieved. Both-and.
Do you think it can be true? That all of it matters, the comfort and the pain, happening at the exact same time? The on-paper life can get clean and polished, and we can even enjoy those bullet-listed varieties of our stories. And still, the insides know something else is happening. Around those clean corners hides some suffering and so sometimes our life finds a deeper dark, all the while.
Sitting on our backs is a culture gripped with power and hustle and numb production. Sitting on our shoulders is a limited approval from someone we trusted with our entirety. Sitting on our legs is a humanity who get uncomfortable and quiet when we get honest. Sitting on our hands is a backwards view of God, that in order for the Divine to be pleased with us, we ought to be better than we are. “Be best, show best, give best, compare best. Don’t be how you actually are. That would be weird, too much. Pull it together. Perfection is the standard. If you can’t get perfect, perform. Get smaller, get quieter, get bigger, get louder.”
What are we to do with our actual feelings? What are we to do with the enormous scope of our being, our authenticity? The fear is that it’s not welcome, so we hide it, boot it, at most cite it in the footnotes. This doesn’t sit right. This gives us headaches behind our eyes and knots in our newly-intolerant stomach. It gives us unexplained nausea and unstoppable vertigo. We are tired. We’re tired of pretending.
This is the counter-narrative coming out of our dissonant hearts these days, isn’t it? Don’t you just want your exactness to be okay? When we wake to the morning, overwhelmed and unsure if this day can hold us, or if we can hold the day, don’t we want permission to know that we are, as we are, allowed to take up space? Do we have to pretend? Do we have to somehow figure it out? Maybe instead, when we peel our eyes open at the aperture of day, we might see a giant permission slip floating along our bedroom ceiling that says, “You belong. That belongs. You’re allowed. It’s okay. Permission to be exactly that.”
The monsters on our bodies smell a whole lot like fear. Distraction.
What if it’s all allowed?
All of it.
We want to know it’s okay for us to be how we are. Weary and rejoicing. We’ve wanted to know this all along. That, at any given moment, either or both are okay. That you are never too much or not enough.
You can celebrate and bawl at the exact same time. You can tearfully sway through the most wintery of solstices. You can hold gratitude and fury in the same palm. You know how I know? I’m somehow doing it, trying it out. And it’s fire. It’s gorgeous and it’s painful, lonely and comforting, achey and connecting. It’s burning up the poisonous trash and playfully leaving behind small treasures.
The entirety of life’s paradox is right here in our every day. And what to be found at that intersection of odds is Truth. That it all belongs, every splattered matter of it, important.
You need not be told what to do. You need just permission to be your story, however broad or mysterious, detailed or nebulous, harsh or engaging, warm or revealing. To open the cave of your lips in sharing the realities of a life lived actually. You be you, and you begin to come home to yourself.
For further reflection, grab a few solitary minutes and listen in on this guided meditation curated for just this kind of tension. While we may not know how to sit in the darkness, we can always try and we may always practice.
This, too, may be a gift.
Enjoy the break in time, and the coming closer in this Advent season.