Day 18 of 365: the prison and freedom of pain

I am in the midst of a paradigm shift. Currently, as I write this, I’m only partially present. I feel tinglies in the back of my skull and I feel as though my cells are dancing faster than usual. My heart is open and I can feel energy pouring into and out of it.

This paradigm shift seems to be about a handful of big items. I’ll have a better idea about it once the water has again settled.

When love is invited into the heart, and the heart is open to receive, some deep-rooted, hardened pain begins to loosen. The silky smooth liquid of love moves its way into cracks and crevices, crumbling what previously appeared to be concrete.

This pain came in at one point in time, through a traumatic experience or words of another, or perhaps it’s karmic debt from past lives and lessons yet to be incorporated. It hurt too badly to feel. I was too afraid to feel it.

And so I boxed myself in.

I spent a life afraid of my sensitivity. Avoiding my sensitivity. Asking for elbow pads and armor to protect my tender skin from the sharp edges of the world.

What started as a beautiful, infinite field slowly became a prison. A prison of “out of sight, out of mind.” A prison of, “only feel the good feelings.” A prison of, “turn your head the other way.”

The walls and bars and guards of my prison were all built of and fueled by fear. By the unknown. By past pain and the uncertainty of where that pain would take me.

What if I deeply felt into the old patterns of wanting to die? Of not being good enough? Of failing in this life? Could I survive? What if I never came back? What if it ate me alive? What if my darkness won?

These thoughts were subconscious, at most. I wasn’t consciously aware of my avoidance; it was merely how I’d grown accustomed to living. It’s how most others seem to live, too.

We avoid a song or a place or a movie or the eyes of a person that remind us of a painful memory.

When pain or a serious topic naturally arises in conversation, we are trained to switch subjects to something lighter. Something easier to digest.

We have an ongoing “AVOID” list in our heads. We may think of these as triggers, or landmines.

But… If we continue to add to this list… If our inventory of internal landmines grows… Then we are not protecting ourselves at all. We are imprisoning ourselves.

I’ve been challenging myself to feel into those triggers. When I hear the first riff of a song and feel the constriction in my heart that typically cues my hand to skip the track, I instead relax and breathe… And trust that I can survive this.

And then I do. Sometimes intense emotions come up. I feel them, trusting that I am safe to do so. And, just as they came… They leave.

The next time I listen to the song, the heart constriction is less.

And eventually, the constriction ceases altogether.

Eventually, my “AVOID” list becomes a “WELCOME” list. Because this pain I’ve kept trapped inside of me brings messages. It makes doors where there were once walls, showing me a clear pathway that I’d have never before known existed.

Protecting myself from feeling, and building barriers around my body and heart are akin to wearing blinders, but for my entire being. Not only is my vision blocked. So too is my hearing, my sense of touch, and even taste and smell.

By separating my psyche from the realities of human life, I have become both the overbearing mother and the overprotected child.

I think this is where my past suicidality stemmed from.

I was so accustomed to avoiding pain. I did drugs and drank alcohol and numbed myself with sugar and caffeine and constant activity all in an effort to avoid pain.

This became exhausting, and impossible to keep up.

I burnt myself out, time and time again. And, without the energy to check off to-do list items 1-10 for avoiding pain, the armor weakened. The barriers wobbled.

Due to living in a padded darkness for so long, even the tiniest pinprick or the dimmest light was overwhelming. The smallest situations would send me over the deep end.

And all because I hadn’t allowed my skin to naturally thicken. I hadn’t trusted myself to be a survivor. I feared I was too weak, or that it would hurt too much.

And now… Now that I’m opening my heart and relaxing my shoulders and truly feeling the pain I’ve avoided for years, and possibly lifetimes, my life is awakening.

I am awakening.

My heart, my mind, my soul, my body. Every part of me is lifting, connecting me with an infinite energy I’d only read about in books… Or seen in movies.

And it’s all because of the power of this process… Of inviting love in and using it to flush the system of the old, sticky gunk that clogs the drains.

Each day, I’m getting closer to truly believing that I’ll be okay, no matter what.

Each day, I’m having my eyes opened to my true purpose here. My focus is shifting away from an ego-driven quest for awards or being a best-selling writer.

My focus is instead on being honest, on sharing my journey, on loving myself unconditionally, and helping others to do the same.

My focus is on embracing the unknown with a deep peace that, whatever comes my way, is for the highest good of all.

And what a blessing. To be walking, breathing, eating, dancing manifestations of something we previously thought abstract: love.

~J

(Shout out to Michael Singer, writer of The Untethered Soul, for being my catalyst for this journey.)

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Sometimes I write about happy things. Other times I write about sad things. Either way, there will be doodles.

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