My dad always said “this too shall pass” when painful or hard moments unpacked themselves in my life. I reluctantly said it back to him, not really believing it, but allowing myself to believe that if I said it enough, it could be true.
Like the time my highschool boyfriend broke up with me, and I sat on my bestfriends bed as she spoon fed rocky road ice cream into my mouth while snot ran down my face. Which burned because I had been crying and wiping my face on his lacrosse sweatshirt that I refused to take off for the last 7 hours. My dad’s text “this too shall pass” made me want to throw my orange Verizon envy across the room as hard as I possibly could. Thinking to myself “oh will it dad? Will this god awful pain and heartbreak pass? What could you possibly know about this pain? It won’t pass. I am pain, and pain is me. Here I sit in pain and I will never not feel this soul sucking, gut wrenching sadness.”
Clearly, I wasn’t angsty at all when I was 15.
The idea that I could feel pain, and one day it would hurt less seemed like a cute lie grown ups would tell us to make our drama stop.
You know how in movies they’ll have a girl going through something hard or sad, and then she’ll blink and be 5 years older? I use to do this thing in the mirror where I would say to myself “one day you’ll blink and all of this will be years behind you.” As if I could actually blink it away how they did in the movies. Until one day I looked in the mirror and thought of high school lacrosse boyfriend and remembered the pain I once felt, and how it no longer existed.
Wow, he was right. It will pass.
I mean, we know it will pass. But when you’re in the darkness, you don’t see the light. Not yet.
Most recently when heartbreak showed up in my life, a friend said to me “I can’t wait to see how you feel in two weeks, and then six weeks from that, and then 3 months later.”
I remember being pissed. Fuck you, I thought. I can’t even see 2 seconds in front of me. How do I do life right now, forget about two weeks. I need a play by play of how to navigate pain right this minute.
Pema Chodron says in her book, When Things Fall Apart “So even if the hot loneliness is there, and for 1.6 seconds we sit with that restlessness when yesterday we couldn't sit for even one, that's the journey of the warrior.”
Okay, I thought. So I work on 1 second at a time.
I’m sure you know heartbreak, even if the decision to end a relationship is yours, your heart still hurts. Hurt is a cute way to talk about. Heartbreak felt like being okay for milliseconds, and then being hit by a large semi that erupted all of your feelings in your body into sharp and tiny shards of glass, making you feel every single piece, one at a time as they push against your insides. Like you can’t breathe, and can’t feel, but you can feel everything all at once. Like you can’t eat, because your body feels too full of hurt. Like you may actually die from the pain your heart is experiencing.
You can imagine that navigating each second of that felt like the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. And at the time, it was by far the hardest thing I had ever done.
I would wake up each day waiting to go back to sleep so I could stop having to feel so much sadness.
And then one day, I laughed. It was unexpected, but I laughed. And then I laughed more. And then I cried. Cried some more. Revisited the hurt. But back came the laughter, and more normalcy. Weeks later, I had forgotten for a moment about the hurt.
Months later, the pain has no home here.
It had to pass.
You don’t get through the pain by pushing it away, because it will always, always come back and find you.
You sit, in the hot loneliness of your suffering, and honor each brutally painful emotion that arises. Hopefully you can do this without judgement. Because judgement is annoying and will make you believe that you can’t feel happiness and sadness, and that’s just a damn lie.
There is no shortcut through pain. Which I find both horrific, and beautiful.
Beautiful because how incredible is it that we are these flesh bodies, with a heart that can feel so deeply, and with so much expansion? Horrific, because pain is hard.
We are taught to run from the hard, hurtful things. But, even when it feels impossible you somehow always make it through the pain. And it passes. Like it always does. Which allows you to grow. How cliche right?
I’ve learned to find a special sense of gratitude for my pain.
I think I’d rather feel heartbreak and pain 100x over, than nothing at all. And I’m very familiar with nothing. The pain though, it teaches you things that you didn’t know you needed to understand or feel.
The pain is where the rising comes from.
The rising which allows you to touch new places, spaces and love over and over again.
This too shall pass, my dad says.
He’s right. As dad’s most always are.
But it doesn't mean it won’t hurt. Don’t push it away. It’s asking you to be felt.