When I was twenty-three years- old and attending graduate school, as I have mentioned before, I had a professor who said, “No one’s pain is any more important than another’s.”
At that ripe and tender age, having survived my share of trauma and pain, I was shocked, awed, slightly indignant, but mostly awakened. I remember immediately thinking, “What if she is right?” Everything changed the moment I tried that thinking on.
Twenty-one years have passed and that statement lives inside of me on a daily basis. Admittedly, I find myself faltering and failing in my judgments of others from time to time. What comes to mind immediately is pulling myself out of a very critical crisis in January and attending a workshop. I was sincerely astonished that I had managed to get myself there and I recall that there was a woman complaining, from a place of sheer agony, that her family simply wanted to spend “too much time with her.” I sat, trying to find compassion for her pain, trying so hard, as I wanted to shake her and tell her to set some boundaries and recognize what she actually had and what some of us will never have again.
But it isn’t my place nor my desire to preach and everyone arrives where they arrive when it is time for them to arrive in the very place they arrive.
And I have my own healing to do.
I have often been told that maybe what I can offer is to help others who are dealing with loss and grief.
But I am learning many things and I recognize that I still have much healing to do.
One thing I recognize which is a great strength is that I do not get triggered by needing to “fix” people. That has been a really beautiful thing for me to honor and recognize.
But what I have learned which has been an uncomfortable place to sit in, is that I am not YET in a fully empowered place within myself, in order to sit with people in their grief.
I feel too much.
Perhaps this is why when I did my coaching course, I was named a “Paralyzed Sensitive.”
Last week I was called to assist a Yoga Training. It was a challenging experience on many levels. Mostly on my body which I realize is still healing (and all of the bending and breaking down of the room, lifting and carrying of props, was more than I realized it would be on my body which is still healing). This was no small realization.
But the bigger thing I realized was this: There was a couple present who had lost a child. Two weeks earlier, I had seen the Jon Robin Baitz play of similar “content,” which absolutely SLAYED me!
I am still working to heal my own heart, daily.
Do I understand loss? Yes.
Can I sit with someone who is grieving? Yes.
Do I try to fix them? No.
When I sat in the theater, I was compelled. I was riveted. And then I jumped straight into being in sheer AGONY for the grief which was erupting before me. Why? Probably because MINE IS NOT HEALED.
While I was assisting the Yoga Training, I held a steady seat. I knew there was nothing to be done for the mother who was grieving except to hold as much space and permission for whatever was needed.
And truth be told, I really felt pain. Not because it is my default mode any longer. That is a choice I am healing successfully and no longer unconsciously or consciously choosing. But because the mirror of unhealed grief is such an astoundingly real mirror to me and I recognize that I am triggered by looking into this mirror.
I was asked recently about my healing process. I entered a place of my history which triggered a great deal of pain for me (being in Synagogue and hearing Jewish prayers being sung), but this time there was community around me. My friend asked me, “But wasn’t it healing for you?”
I recognized a few things.
For me, it is beyond challenging for me to grieve in public. And we cannot control such circumstances unless we stay at home all of the time. God bless Jackie Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, Coretta Scott King... the list is endless (!!!).
The other thing I recognize is that healing is painful even if it is, in fact, healing!
And so... it is time to heal these triggers. Pour more compassion into these places which remain open and not yet “repaired.” Because I believe in the process of healing. I know it is possible.
My body needs more time. I must respect it. Listen. Follow its lead.
And as for the pain in my heart. Yes, I must listen and honor it. But I wish to keep OPENING TO MORE. Because what I know more than anything is that my essence is not the pain. It is buoyant and irrepressible JOY.
I just need to get the other stuff out of the way in order to find my way back to what has always been there all along.
I believe in healing.
I know I am.
I am healing.
I know I am.
I am healing.