A couple of days ago I heard a widely respected man of faith say "You can only go as far in life as you can manage your pain." The resonance of this truth keeps reverberating around my heart and I cannot stop thinking about his words. The statement was made on the heels of an even truer statement "In life, we will all have pain." Given that I not only know that to be my own truth, but that it is also the truth of the patients I see in my private practice every day, I know that pain comes and goes and comes and goes....without end...until the end...
The idea that we will be continually struggling with pain throughout our lifespan is a harsh pill to swallow. And yet, it seems that the predictable nature of pain tends to be what causes us to change our lives, shift our perspectives or sometimes soften our hearts - to ourselves and toward others. The challenging part is the space between the wound and the place in which we hope to heal or recover. We desperately seek a reprieve from pain through drugs, alcohol, sex or work addictions -- anything really, anything that will numb us from what hurts so badly. But the problem is that these pretend Bandaids only work for a little while and eventually, they stop working and destroy our bodies, our minds and our relationships.
How we try to "manage," our pain can easily destroy us with its false promise of healing and it can destroy our chances for living the life of our dreams. The profound silence of unhealed loneliness can be deafening and our brokenness can run so deep, that nothing in the tangible world, but our connection to the universe, to our gratitude and to our humanity can help us repair our aching soul. You can call it whatever you like....from religion to love to spirituality -- it's your choice. But whomever and whatever you use to manage your wound better be something that won't eventually swallow you up or become a scab that continually bleeds and never heals. It better be bigger than you, greater than your wound and more vast than your small space in the world -- because you can only go as far in life as what you believe will heal your pain, or else you will not even come close to managing the pain... but maintaining the pain.....forever.