This is a blog about loving when it hurts.
I don't have a clever place to start. If you are in the place of needing to love when it hurts, then you don't need an anecdote to meet me here.
Loving when it hurts is the deepest work of our life. Let's acknowledge here that we just do not know how to do it. Nor do we want to. We find out about it through necessity. We find out when What We Love is threatened. When the connection is broken. The trust is destroyed. When there is life and death riding next to each other. When the pain is spilling over larger than our walls.
We find out about how to do this when we get to the place where we can finally, really, say "I don't know" what to do/how to help/how to fix it/what will happen/when it will end.
It's a raw place.
Here in this place, the world looks different. You feel acutely how often we are caught in problems that do not matter, are not real. You hear the culture around you- advertising and sitcoms and social media posts- but it does not make any sense. What used to entice you feels insignificant. You know because you can now feel what matters most. It feels clear as day.
This is the meaning of "the emperor has no clothes."
The predicament, and the gestalt (or whole) of your life, and the world. feels so naked.
How do we live with this acute level of clarity? I really believe this is what spins into panic for many. When we feel the depth of our situation so clearly, intense fear can cast a shadow that nearly chokes us.
When my dad was dying, I felt a choice inside me. It wasn't a decision happening in my mind. It was primitive. The pain inside me was unbearable. I felt lost at sea, and I could not stop what was happening to him, what was going to happen. Everything in me was pulling to shut down. What I sensed in that time was that I could shut down and maybe miss the pain, but I would also miss the remaining time with my dad. Or I could figure out how to keep loving, keep staying open, even through the hurting. This was the only way to get to be with my dad for whatever time we had left. My heart had to stay open in the hurt. I could not afford anything less.
We are in the territory of surrender. I was once given the gift of being with a dear friend during her labor and delivery. Since then, I've read extensively about the experience of birth since I have not yet experienced it in my own body. Witnessing a birth and learning further gave me a window into another kind of moment when the pain is so great but you have to stay and give yourself too it in order for new life to come.
Loving, or keeping the heart open, through pain is a place of great and difficult transformation.
We are deciding that we will let this great and mighty painful time do its work on us. We are surrendering to be changed by it. There is no template for what it will change, for how we too will be dismantled amidst it all.
The original concept of a crucible is a vessel that can tolerate incredibly high heat, and is used to melt down other substances that require extreme heat to become malleable. A crucible is a container made to hold extremes that transform elements. When the crucible of Loving Through Pain arises in our life, we are in a moment of extremes. Extremes bring clarity. They can induce panic. They are also a quick route to clarity about what matters most, and what it means to stay connected to that all the time.
Where could we start?
We could start with giving ourself the space and place to unwind the tight knot of fear about being in this situation at all. For me, this is akin to letting feeling come back into a limb dead with pins-and-needles. Giving time and space for the circulation to spread out again. Knowing I'm not ready to use the limb just yet. I just need to wait here for a second.
A space to do this could mean taking a few minutes in the evening at bedtime, or after work, to lay down and place your hands on your own body wherever you feel the hurting, and let your breath move through those places. Not with the intention of changing them. Do not use your breath to manipulate yourself. A more helpful vision is to see and feel space around those tender places. Do not try to move or dissolve the pain. Feel the space at the sides and back of the pain. Let the pain start to sit in a place with a bit more breathing room.
We could start to look at the possibility of love that does not have pleading and begging wrapped around it. Confusing love and worry is a core confusion. I know that I held it for years and still get confused about it. Worry is not love. It is not an expression of a more genuine or deeper love. Worry sits closer to fear. Does the worry need to go away? Let's not even think about it that way. The worry is there. It's going to be impossible to send it away without repressing it, and that it not helpful. But separate from the worry, or around it, we might feel that Love is there still. A kind of largeness that feels delicate and tucked away like a jewel. A knowing about a connection that is universal through time and space, no matter what these outside circumstances look like now. It could feel like a connection to your willingness to try to surrender, and how feeling that is warm and tender and brave. Giving time for the Love, for Loving, even if it can't be directly expressed to the object of your Love. Knowing that giving time to sit and worry is not the same presence as giving space for the Love.
Give space for sitting in Love, with Love. You may Remember in your body that this Love comes from you, and also you sit inside of it.
Lastly, we could sing. We could sing with our whole heart. Anything. A song we know, or just making sounds from our belly. Sometimes I will sit in my car in the empty edge of a parking lot and just sing for a few minutes. Sing at a volume and in a way where my throat opens up and I'm not thinking anymore. Heal yourself with your own sound. Let all the intensity have space to M O V E . What else can you do? Holding it all inside, alone, is unbearable. If you do not yet have supportive community in your life where you can really let go, then this is a way to be with yourself. For me it is a lifeline when I do not know where to go.
Come out of the mental maze of worry and panic. Meet yourself in what matters most. See who you are there.
Deep Roots Living supports the work of meeting yourself. If you would like to talk about doing this work together, email me (email@example.com).