“I just don’t want this anymore,” she said, waving her hand in the air as if removing the invisible webs of suffering infesting her reality.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“The pain, the anxiety, the memories, the never-ending tapes of shame and guilt and hatred and violence in my head.”
I smiled. This, I know.
She’s not the only one who wants “this,” nor was it her first time feeling this way. She’d just allowed the discomfort to build to a point where it became the center of her attention.
This could no longer be brushed away.
By the time they’re ready to ask for help, most people are deep in crisis. Their thoughts keep them up at night. Their emotions, whether anger or sadness, spill out anywhere that they’re triggered. Their relationships with friends and family stand on their last legs as they grasp out for anyone, anything that will remove the pain.
Even before I started doing my current work, I had a knack for getting people to open up to me. My friends used to jokingly call me “Dr. Phil” because they’d walk away at a party and come back to see me across from an emotional stranger spilling his deepest, darkest secrets. I invited this, but I doubt that I did anything valuable for anyone until I finally healed myself. It’s hard to say. I’ve never asked.
From the mouths of all the suffering people I’ve met in my life, I’ve heard the same belief. In dozens of different phrases, I’ve heard hopeless lips proclaim that they’re broken somehow.
Sometimes the suffering person will think they were born with it.
“I’ve never been like other people, so I can understand why everyone always leaves,” they’ll say.
Then, there’s the all-too-common belief of being broken by something, broken in a way that can’t be fixed.
They say: “I’m too messed up. I’m dark, and I know it. I’ll never be like those normal people after what’s happened to me, after what I’ve seen.”
Some will try to hide their darkness and others will live directly through it. And yet, at the source, there is still that simple belief: I am flawed. I am not like others. I am broken.
So where do these come from?
I’ve found that, only every single time, those who suffer in mind and body have faced some sort of trauma. Whether it was abandonment, neglect, abuse, rape, or some other violation, they experienced shocking pain.
And then, things got worse and worse after that experience. And then, they unconsciously recreated that experience over and over by the people they attracted into their lives and the places they went. And then, the pain worsened and the belief of being broken strengthened.
So why does it get worse?
It may surprise you to hear that the downward spiral of most “mental health” issues is actually an incredibly useful and beautiful process. In fact, without it, we’d have no chance for spiritual enlightenment or healing.
Pain bears a gift. The gift is – the knowledge of what you can undergo and survive. The knowledge of your own power.
They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This isn’t quite right. The truth is: what doesn’t kill you must make you realize how strong you already are and, if it doesn’t, that lesson will keep knocking on your door.
The pain of any trauma worsens as your inner wisdom attempts to teach you a lesson: you are more than your pain. The suffering of loss worsens as your wisdom tries to teach you that the suffering cannot destroy you.
The lesson is: I cannot be broken. I cannot be destroyed. I cannot be killed.
The reason that heartbreak pain persists is the illusion that the heart can, in fact, be broken. It can’t. You are already so incredibly strong and powerful. You are indestructible and eternal. Pain may hurt, but it cannot break you.
What we do, however, when we experience pain is that we put up walls around our hearts, thinking we can protect them. With those walls, we block any chance of healing. We need that inner power to heal.
What we really need is to allow those walls to break open and to find what is unbreakable within.
There, pain will come.
I know that pain. It can get pretty intense. It may give you nausea. It could make you throw up. It could even knock you unconscious. It cannot, however, kill you. Even death cannot kill you. You are immortal, eternal, and powerful.
This is the gift of pain, heartbreak, and trauma: the opportunity to realize your own strength.
Not build or create your strength, realize it. Discover it. Live through it.
And so, funny enough, we block our own healing by trying to stop it, by doubting our natural, inner wisdom. We begin to experience great suffering and we block it by protecting ourselves. Sometimes that protection is with a tough personality and other times it is with drugs. Sometimes with violence and other times with depression.
However we block it, pain is an absolutely necessary pain of healing. In fact, it is the path to it. The willingness to step into the fire is the willingness to find the jewels that lay in its center.
And so, I said: “If you want all this to stop, you must be willing to experience it completely.”
If you want to stop the pain, you must first let it wash over you like water caught in a dam. It is only spilling over at every opportunity because it’s built up pressure and desperately needs release. Tear down the wall, let the waves come, and let yesterday wash away with the tide, making space for a peaceful today and a brighter tomorrow.
Vironika Tugaleva is an author, speaker, reformed cynic, people lover, and a different kind of spiritual teacher. She helps people heal their minds and discover their inner power. Read more about Vironika (www.vironika.org) and her book The Love Mindset (www.thelovemindset.com).