Mental Health, Relationships

Have you ever experienced a moment where everything feels like it makes sense?

It happens only very rarely for me, but sometimes it feels like all the dots of my life connect in such a way that all my problems vanish….because maybe they were really never there to begin with. All the problems were in me, because of me, and suddenly I see a way out of all of them. Of course, they’re usually short-lived…because the solution is often short-term and only pauses the problem reel until new ones arise.

This time…I may have found one that is more permanent. Sunday night, to be exact as I was driving back from a mountain house enjoyed with a number of people who were mostly not quite friends, but became friends by the end of our trip together.

I was talking to myself, as I often do when I’m driving alone. I started that habit on my long solo roadtrips. I would be on long stretches of road without reception to call anyone and to stay awake and engaged, I would just…talk. Aloud. Occasionally, I would ask myself questions and someone else would respond….someone who felt like my subconscious. I played along with it a few times, which resulted in some interesting revelations and conversations that I hadn’t already recognized or perceived.

This time, I was trying to understand my recent insecurities and fears about a relationship in my life and why I let all these things get to me when I know in the end I WILL BE OKAY. I know this deep down. So why, why do I focus on any possibility that a relationship will end instead of enjoying when it’s currently working and alive? These are some things I was forcing myself to confront and dealing with the reality that I *still* have been afraid of being “all in” when I have something amazing to lose…which just increases the likelihood of losing it.

Whoever I was talking to in my head told me to let myself be loved and love fully without letting the fear of its ending getting in the way. It reminded me of the quote about living life to the fullest and in its present form: “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming — WOW– What a Ride!” I smiled thinking of that quote; I love the image.

Then She (subconscious me) said: “But how about if that is how your heart is supposed to feel at the end of your life too?”

Whoa. What? PAUSE.

Subconscious Me: “How about if your (emotional) heart at the end of your life is supposed to be scarred and bloody from being used so much to love so many people, it’s about to explode? How about if the scars are reminders on your heart like the marks on you from other physical events?”

Conscious Me: “What physical events are you referring to?”

Subconscious Me: “Well…like purposeful physical events…like purposeful scars you request of people to make on you.”

Conscious Me: *breathes deeply*

Subconscious Me: “What happens then? Why do you enjoy scars and wearing them proudly?”

Conscious Me: “Because they are reminders of a momentous, intense experience. Because I was strong enough to take it. Because I was totally alive.”

Subconscious Me: “Uh huh…and what happened in those experiences?”

[Side note: My subconscious can be kind of condescending sometimes.]

Conscious Me: “I went to a different place emotionally. When there was enough physical pain compounding, eventually, I could breathe into it and something changed. The physical pain was suddenly something I could “tune into” or not. My body no longer mattered; it was inconsequential. The pain no longer mattered. And there was only calm.”

Subconscious Me: “Uh huh. So you transformed the pain from physical pain into a cathartic experience? You needed the pain and suffering to get you to peace? Why can’t it be the same for emotional pain?”


Let me backtrack a bit here.

A couple months ago, I met a man from a dating site. Ok, more backtracking. I am on dating sites not for romance, but for meeting people who are amazing who I wouldn’t have met otherwise. As a female, I admittedly don’t do any work. People find me. I make a profile and people write me and I decide whether they would be worth putting energy into. The message I got from this man was “We need to meet.” When I saw that show up in my inbox, my first thought was “Well, that’s pretentious.” Then, I read his profile and I wrote to him, “Yes, we do.” He was a Buddhist and traveled all over the world, spending thousands of hours understanding Buddhism and meditation and now teaches meditation in addition to other things.

We met and since then, though I’ve only seen him twice, we continue emailing each other. We’ve talked a lot about emotional pain (and other pain). And most recently, he had written me this: “For starters, could emotional pain be as much of a turn-on for your heart and spirit as physical pain can be for your body? Could you learn to experience it that way? And, if so, then how much of a pity would it be to “expel” or even “let go” of that pain?!  It would be like tossing out an endless trove of treasure.”

When I read it (multiple times), it just didn’t make sense.

Not until this conversation with myself.

All of this connected what he was saying. To summarize, it meant that I’ve been able to use physical pain to get me to a different place of catharsis, as a vehicle to calm and “choosing” to feel the pain or not, as a reminder of how strong I am. And thus…emotional pain can be a vehicle to the same. Pain (emotional or otherwise) can just be a channel in our brains that we choose to tune into…or not. And instead of seeing pain as a problem, something to be fixed, we can actually *use* it to become better selves. We can say “Bring it! This pain is bringing me to a higher dimension; I’m taking it and using it to transform me!”

I realized all these years, I’ve been letting pain and scars sit in me, continuously opening them to “understand” or “process,” but maybe all I needed to do was let them be, let them add up, and let them transform me until the pain wasn’t pain any longer….until I could choose to not tune in.

If I can see every experience of emotional pain as another lash I’ve taken and take pleasure in it, let it turn me on like I might with physical lashes, then I will be free. Because then all emotional pain is a “desired” means to an improved end.

I’m not yet at the point of screaming “HURT ME, WORLD!” at the top of my lungs…and yet, the inevitable emotional pain seems like it has a different hue to it when I think of it. Because I can take a whole lot of physical pain. 😉

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