“Often we find it easier to think our way around things rather than to feel our way through them” – Mark Nepo, The Book Of Awakening
A great set of knives is a girls best friend in the kitchen. Unless that knife becomes your assailant. Recently I cut my finger. I was chopping vegetables while chatting and laughing with a friend and got myself caught off guard. I cut it bad. Bad enough to need stitches. To my surprise the seething pain of the initial cut hurt LESS than the anesthetic the fine doctor injected in order to sew my finger back together. It was not pleasant. But, it was an interesting learning experience….
Sometimes life is a little like that. We apply a numbing mechanism to our deep cuts. We note the injury, but get about the business of anesthetizing the pain with all sorts of things. Enter: Coping mechanisms. In reality, all the while, the numbing is actually a greater pain inflicted than the cut itself and the overall process to heal.
I’ve had some deep cuts in my life. Far greater than the cut on my finger while making a salad. Cuts that have run deep into my soul. Cuts that have hit me at my core and were hard to put a finger on much less wrap a set of tender loving arms around. I know now, as an adult, that I dealt with some of those cuts in a way that only served me greater pain down the road. I’ve battled an eating disorder for almost thirty years now. It hasn’t been easy, or pretty, or uplifting or mending to say the least. I wouldn’t say that the presence of my eating disorder is solely tied to the avoidance of my wounds, but it has definitely been a coping mechanism that made me feel in control of … something. Chiefly the way I felt about myself. I thought that if I could control what others saw then I would somehow feel good about who I was. The work of feeling good about who I was always had more to do with what was happening on the inside than the reflection I projected on the outside. I know that now.
We’ve all had moments where life cut us deeply. Deep enough to need a mending. But, often we avoid the injury and dance around it a bit rather than just making our way through the pain and the process required that leads to the healing. Some of us have significant wounds. Some of us have tucked those away in a corridor of our mind that requires minimal occupancy. Dare I suggest that we visit some of those areas and take the chance to “feel our way through” to a healing? I think that fear rises up in us when we contemplate the necessary steps toward healing. We fear the emotional undertow. We fear that sense of brokenness. We fear needing time. Time we’re not sure is available to us. We fear the unknown. We fear that something is inherently wrong with us when things that occurred decades ago still have pain associated with them.
Pain is a funny thing. It can be like a slow babbling brook or like Niagara Falls depending on the injury. But, it makes no sense to take either flow of water and dam it up. Let it be what it is. Pain is just pain and it indicates that you are human and alive and breathing. Let your mending come. Let the healing have its way. Ask yourself what you need in order to visit that corridor of pain. The anesthesia will always be worse than the cut itself and the mending that awaits you.
I believe in us and the power to heal.