Bliss and Suffering – A Life Well-Lived

My suffering this past week, from my anxiety and ever present sense of terror, was intense and made daily self-care daunting. However at the same time I was feeling such intense suffering, I also had the ability to hold on to the fact that I had such a wonderful, loving relationship with my husband. I could hold on to the fact that I was both connected to and intimate with my husband and connected to my therapist. This gave me such an experience of bliss in the midst of my suffering. However, it did not erase my regular thoughts of how much pain and suffering can one endure. I thought it was a shameful thing to have this kind of distress, pain and suffering. I had feelings that I was doing something wrong because I was in such pain. I thought that I was wrong because I live with pain and suffering. I wondered what was wrong with me that I could not just choose happiness. I thought about how everyone including me has been trying to help fix my pain but was not happening so I wondered if I had failed me/them in some way. I questioned, “Is it a failure to live with pain and suffering?”

Then my thinking started to shift. I started to think about how lucky I was to be feeling the depth of the human experience. I became thrilled with the fact that I get to feel such bliss because I am so deeply connected, loved and intimate with another. Furthermore, I felt this sense of freedom because I know I do not need to look for this love to take away the existential ache of human emptiness and aloneness. Also, I was full of joy that I get to experience such purpose in my life despite the fact that I am in pain over my inability to hold a job. In addition, I was so full of pride at how hard I work and invest myself in living fully every day. I was experiencing all of this while in pain and anguish from my PTSD. Upon further reflection, I realized I was truly living more fully human, fully alive, and much freer than I ever had in my life. In fact, one morning I woke up at 2 am with this sense of incredible freedom. I felt so alive in mind, body and spirit. This was a far cry from the terror and anxiety I usually wake up with so I got up and began my day. I wanted to embrace and hold this sense of freedom while fully awake and aware. I held this experience that morning while negotiating my chronic anxiety and fatigue. I felt such gratitude to be able to hold both.

Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that striving for happiness is overrated. Furthermore, I do not equate happiness with the good life nor do I strive for it anymore. What I do hope and strive for today is living the fullness of the human experience and that is exactly what I was doing this past week – embracing and holding bliss and suffering. This is my cure. This is me living so fully human, fully alive, which is really living a life well-lived and it is a life well-lived that I strive for on a daily basis.

 

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