If you’re alive, if you’re a human, you’ve experienced pain in your life. And while everybody’s suffering is different, what binds us together is the fact pain has visited us in some form. This is the commonality of suffering.
Pain is an integral part of our story and even when we have left the immediate event or circumstance that caused it behind, it stays with us. It takes up residence somewhere in our spirit. And, if we’re not aware of it, this can make for a difficult and life-altering cohabitation.
Rationalizing our pain may seem reasonable in theory, but in reality it’s problematic. Applying logic to something so illogical only creates a cycle that ushers us back to the beginning of the conundrum without any progress or definitive answer.
I have chosen to acknowledge and accept my pain, fully. I know what I endured. I remember it well and it has affected me on so many levels, both negatively and positively. But gone are the days where I’d sit and wonder “why?” until I was rendered immobile by the enormity of what I was comprehending. I moved on from being a victim of my sadness to being friends with it. Friends may be a strange term, but friendship isn’t always happiness. Friendship can be brutal, honest and uncomfortable. It can also be liberating and if there’s a way to find liberation despite our pain, that’s beautiful.
What often makes pain so difficult is the idea that someone or something has singled us out to endure what we’re dealing with. But when we embrace that pain visits all of us in some way, we feel much less alone. It makes us feel that we can make it through knowing it happens universally. And this also fosters our ability to empathize with others; to sit with them with their pain and share it. Because, we have our own.
As we begin to process suffering, it’s important to realize that what works for one person may not work for the next. There will be ups and downs. There will be times when our progress seems to be for naught. This is the nature of suffering as well. Instead of mastering it, we simply let it be. We embrace the cloudy days knowing that the sun in all its brilliance is shining brightly beyond the grey and murky skies.
Pain is our link to others. But so is love. So it joy. We are connected in so many complex and beautiful ways. Pain is one component of that connection. So, instead of measuring and comparing what we’ve ensued to that of others, let’s just awaken to the truth that to suffer is to be human and to be alive. It is one part of our human and individual story.