Leaning In

Last weekend -meaning 9 days ago -I was hurt. I had been vulnerable and afterward felt very unseen. It cut deep.

As I’ve delved into learning about myself -truly learning how I work and what makes me act and respond the way I do -I have found that I dull pain frequently. I dull pain before pain comes. I dull pain when it comes, and after it’s gone, I numb up for the inevitable next round.
It’s all very, “Life IS pain, Highness.”

I could feel the pain hitting hard -the emotional BANG that reverberates throughout my entire self… and I wanted to run. I wanted chocolate, a movie marathon, an escape nap. Tears began welling up in my eyes, and I wanted to STUFF them back down as far as I could.

But I know too much about myself now, so I cried instead of swallowing. I know from past experience that pain doesn’t stay, nor is emotion reality. I knew that it wasn’t the END of the world, and that knowledge gave me courage to let the pain in. If I let it in, let it course it’s way through and out, perhaps it wouldn’t rear it’s ugly head later on at some really, really, really inconvenient manner and/or time and/or place.
I prayed. I cried. I told my Father in Heaven that I was HURTING. I was feeling pain.

There’s something about our culture that makes FEELING PAIN AND HATING IT seem like something only weak chickens do. We look at the shame culture facilitated by Jillian Michaels, and we hate on ourselves.
In my case, I just numbed the pain to a do-able level and carried on, Sailor. But you know what that got me? That got me very sick. Very, very sick.
I became emotionally sick, spiritually sick, and even physically sick.

I can’t Numb and Stuff anymore. I have to lean in, FEEL it go through and out of me…
I woke up the next morning and took a pile of things that represented -to me -feeling unseen. I put them into a burn pile and one by one by one, I burned, burned, burned.

As the smoke rose and the fire grew, I felt a cleansing happening. Without actually SAYING the words, I was letting myself know that I was enough, that I deserved to be seen and my NOT being seen had nothing to do with my shortcomings.  I can’t EARN my way to being seen by others.
Each item I burned brought on a new wave of pain, stuffed resentments rose up through my soul and out through my eyes. I cried more.

There was pain. It was uncomfortable.
But there was also peace. Is it possible to feel peace when you’re uncomfortable? I’m learning that life is really just like that for me… an uncomfortable experience with a peaceable undercurrent.

I don’t always FEEL the peace, but I have the knowledge that it is always there should I choose to take my pain and pride and fears to God and say, “I’m afraid that my future will be a painful string of experiences in the which I feel walked on and unseen. Please take this fear. Please take it and YOU worry about it. There is no possible way my worrying will change anything about my future. Please take care of me, my future, and my pain.”

The prayers I said that day went up to God in a steady waft of smoke… my tear-filled smoke signals to heaven.

Later that morning, I went to church smelling like someone dumped perfume on a bonfire.  Church brought more tears, and when I felt them welling up, I let them fall.
After church, I fell into an exhausted sleep, and let my body REST. And in the days following, I wrote about my pain. I felt waves of it hit after the fact. Some days were exhausting. It was hard not to shame myself for feeling pain.

My house still hasn’t recovered from when I was sick the week before, and I had to let that go.
I talked honestly with my kids, hoping that in doing so I was giving them permission to be honest and open as well -to feel their own pain instead of hearing shame inside of their head telling them to STUFF and NUMB.

I didn’t handle each wave of pain perfectly. I numbed my second wave very well, lashed out at my kids, and spent the next day apologizing and trying to pull myself back into an un-numbed reality.

When I numb pain, I numb peace.
And -more than anything -I crave peace right now, even if I have to be uncomfortable.



  1. Thank you for this. Most people don’t WANT to have pain in their lives, but I think that true bravery is facing and accepting it, knowing that ‘this too shall pass .’

  2. I love that you somehow manage to touch me deeply even as you quote Princess Bride. It’s amazing. A are you.

Speak Your Mind