Getting unstuck...

::image from Teatown Lake Reservation::

Everyone has personal pain. Some hide it and others wear it as a badge to define them, but few of us know how to let it cut us and do its work.

I'm not sure why pain is the instrument of our growing and becoming, but countless poets, theologians and philosophers have written about it. It would appear that we aren't designed to bear it--thus the reason we invent ways to handle it. "Coping mechanisms" if I remember high school psych correctly.

One of the things that was stunning to me in going through marriage boot camp is that we spent four days knowing everybody's pain. The childhood cuts. The longings of the soul. It's a weird thing to be surrounded by people with no masks. No images projected of themselves. Just the people at their core with all their secrets revealed.

And the odd thing is that vulnerability creates likeability...because we can relate. When it all boils down, there is a commonality in humanity...we simply build different scaffolding to support ourselves when those longings of the heart aren't met.

So to the issue at hand...if anger, depression, anesthetics and shame can make us "stuck" then how do we become "unstuck?" Curiously, I think it goes back to the pain. Physically, the job of pain is to tell us something is wrong. What if emotionally, it's job is the same?

What if when someone says something snarky to you...something that hurts...what if the pain is to alert you that what was said isn't right? What if when a spouse leaves for someone else....because they've "fallen in love"...the pain is to let you know that love doesn't do that?

If pain is an alert system for when things are wrong, then it would seem that in a fallen world there would be emotional pain involved in almost everything.

What if the analogy goes further? If we hurt physically, sometimes the response is immediate (ie. pull your hand back the stove is hot) but other times it is dull. Throbbing. The sign of something more serious. Could it be that emotional pain has similar levels? Sharp...as in "don't hang out with her, she's toxic" or dull...as in "your heart got broken and it never really healed."

It occurs to me that we don't want to listen to our pain. We embrace the energy of anger/indignation, the low emotional bandwidth of depression, the bliss of addiction or the heaviness of shame. Anything to shift away from hurting.

Because, the deep hurts...once you engage them...require time to unravel. They cause you to have to find the lies you've believed about yourself. To practice forgiveness. And perhaps the most demanding of requirements...to allow yourself to open enough so that you could be hurt again.

Which is why we don't seem to mind being stuck.

Except that when we spend too much time stuck, the scenery gets to be the same. And like putting a bandaid on a sucking chest wound, our coping mechanisms only provide the illusion of healing.
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall