Hard or Easy: The decision that will impact your growth
Hello loves! Welcome back to another week in our journey to wholeness and self-love. I am traveling in Northern CA at the moment, so my sincerest apologies for the delay in this week's blog post. However, I do prioritize safety, rest and time for reflection before I dive into writing a new post so I trust this process and know that it will serve us in the long run. It's best to approach meaningful work from a rested heart than a hurried/stressed out one. Wouldn't you agree?
OK! So this week we are switching gears a bit and discussing something I have been learning about through following Glennon Doyle Melton's discussions on being a Love Warrior. As I've mentioned before, I am currently reading her book Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life and I've been listening to the Super Soul Conversations podcast where Oprah and Glennon discuss her newest book, Love Warrior. What struck a chord with me in listening to Glennon is how she felt broken most of her life because she feared pain. She was constantly afraid, self-conscious, and received a lot of unwanted attention for her looks (even as a young child, constantly being told what a 'pretty little girl' she was). In essence, she knew what it was like to feel objectified early on in life, and didn't like it. It created fear in her, and so...she numbed. She was bulimic from the age of 10, and spent most of her young adult life being a somewhat-functioning alcoholic. She used this journey to break the cycle of her existence and learned to become comfortable with the one thing she kept running from, the one thing she kept numbing...PAIN:
"Most of the magic in my life has happened after my heart has been shattered." - GDM
The idea here, that Glennon is offering, is that pain is meant to be leaned into, it's meant to be experienced, explored, and learned from. It's in these moments of pain, that we learn something new about ourselves, our world, and we get the divine opportunity to use that pain towards becoming a better participant in this life we've been given. Pain allows us to choose grace. Glennon numbed her fear of pain with booze, but many of us have our own numbing tactics: shopping, sex, drugs, gossip, overeating, overworking (just to name a few). Numbing is "the easy button", sort of like that Staples commercial where when things got difficult someone would reach for that button seeking an immediate solution -- "that was easy!". The problem is that these buttons aren't fixing anything, really. These numbing tactics are just temporary distractions that withhold true feeling, and hinder growth. She eventually learned to SIT in her pain, listen to it, and understand that it was there to show her something -- to communicate to her that no matter what the outcome, there WILL be redemption. She WILL be fine. She WILL go on. And she's STILL a child of God, regardless.
I started to think about how I saw this idea play out in my own life. Certainly, one of the biggest pains I dealt with was the absence of my father. For so many years, I told myself that I didn't need a dad, that dad's were obsolete, and that I am going to be 'just fine' without him. In fact, I told myself that I would 'be better' because I was going to show him that he didn't derail my strive for greatness. Much of this was done, also, in a feeble attempt to support my hurting mother who was dealing with the fact that her marriage was over, and she was now a single mom raising 2 children on her own. Getting angry along with her, and shaking my fists at the thought of my father -- was my young-child-like way of 'standing in it' with her. I had it all wrong. This was "the easy button". In this situation:
Easy Button - being angry, resentful, and punishing my dad for his mistakes; removing him from my life completely; walking every day of this life allowing myself to feel superior to him because I controlled how much he could get to me.
Hard Button - allowing myself to feel, truly feel, the pain and disappointment of his absence; allow myself to walk in the truth which was that I DID need my dad; allow myself to see him as a human being instead of some unicorn that should have been PERFECT and UNWAVERING in his job as my father; understand that he was a sick man who struggled with alcoholism, depression, and anger from his own childhood; give myself permission to forgive him and still allow a small space for him in my life without being fearful of how this would upset mom.
I can say with all honesty, I probably would have learned SO MUCH MORE had I went with the hard button. I could have learned about forgiveness, grace, mercy and love so much earlier in life. Instead, I practiced what I thought was best - cold, shut out, and long-term resentment to protect my heart from the pain of having to truly SIT in the devastation that my father had caused. I get it now. Pain is a part of life. We can use it to our advantage, as long as we don't allow fear and numbing to control how to approach it. We can run toward the pain, instead of reaching for 'the easy button'.
How has 'the easy button' showed up in your life? Do you have a usual numbing tactic that you reach for? Are you afraid of pain or do you run towards it? We must be honest with ourselves and feel comfortable with 'not being fine'. We aren't robots. This world is so uncomfortable with women telling the truth, not being shiny and perfect all of the time, and saying exactly what they are feeling - even if it makes them question their own existence. But truth telling is where breakthrough comes from. Sitting in it, is how we heal it and give space for others' truths to also be revealed. Glennon says this is why 12-step-program meetings are her 'safe place', because it's the one space and time where we can share our truths and say out loud, "I'm not fine. I need help."
This Self-Love community is just that. A safe place where you can share that you aren't "FINE" and guess what, it's OK. When we have been running away from the very things that can heal us: fear, connection, truth telling, tough conversations, facing conflict, etc -- it's no wonder why the "I'm fine" mentality is perpetuated. The great thing is that TODAY you can make a choice the next time a fearful, uncertain, or scary situation in life comes up. Whether it's deciding to get married, deciding to get divorced, finally approaching that difficult conversation, deciding to take on a new job, go back to school, to have children or NOT have children. Will you run toward the pain of uncertainty? Or will you reach for "the easy button" through the usual numbing tactics? The former is the path to breakthrough, healing, a new start, or an end to a cycle of life, once and for all. While the latter, just puts time on hold while you check-out mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Your heart can take on more than you know. Pain is one of them. Trust that you have been equipped with the strength of love necessary to live through the 'hard things' and still be OK after the storm is over.