I try to publish a blog every Sunday. Last week I wrote 3 different blogs and choose not to post any of them. In hindsight, I think I was avoiding the questions I have been thinking and reflecting upon the last few weeks. On two different occasions recently, I have been asked if I was willing to give up my suffering. My reality is that I live with the daily mental and physical challenges that come with PTSD, and pain is a part of my life. I wondered if I could be in pain and not suffer. Immediately, I remembered that my last blog talked about how my pain, challenges and limitations were bringing me to a deeper relationship with life. They truly are bringing me a more vibrant, authentic and sacred life. Actually, I am grateful for how I have learned to live with them every day. As I am reflecting on whether you could give up suffering while in pain, two further questions are popping into my mind. They are as follows:
First: Why do I think I still need to suffer? Is it because I don’t think I am worthy of a good life?
I want to do so much in my life. I yearn to be more, to do more, and to have a greater impact on the world. However, I find daily self care a challenging adventure and life’s daily tasks can become daunting. The reality is that I do the best I can do every day, and most days I feel successful. I have had to adjust my definition of success from years ago but I am at peace with my daily successes. However, I feel grief, loss and conflict between what I want to do and what my body and mind can actually do. Until recently, these feelings made me suffer and constrict my body but I now know that I am learning to let the emotions and their accompanying energy flow freely through me and out into the universe. I can see this new practice is freeing me and making my emotional life a much more joyful experience. When I practice it I feel so alive. In this way I think it is time to give up the suffering.
Over two years ago, I found myself in a substance abuse program. There they asked me why I came to this program. I quickly responded that I was worthy of a good life and alcohol was interfering with the good life I was trying to create. Now, I am growing in my ability to proclaim that I am worthy enough to give up suffering. I truly am growing in the belief that I am worthy and complete as I am in this moment in time. I believe more and more that I don’t need to fix myself anymore. I have developed a worthy life for myself where I get to live more fully human, fully alive. I have a life I never thought possible. It is a great gift when you learn to care for and respect your true essence.
Second: Can I let go of the suffering that has been such a part of my life for over 50 years? What will I lose if I give it up? Is it part of my comfort zone?
I have been struggling with PTSD since I was 5 actually since utero. I spent the next 50 years trying to hide it from others by living the successful life or trying to fix it before others would know I had something that was defined as a mental illness. These things have driven me my whole life. If I continue to embrace the pain and let it and its accompanying energy flow through me, if I continue to see myself as complete as I am then I am afraid I would have nothing to drive me to be more, to live more. Furthermore, I am afraid that if I give up my suffering I will find this stillness and inner calm that holds my sense of empowerment. I am afraid to be powerless or helpless again in my life but I am also afraid to hold my power, to take full responsibility for creating the life I want and need. In addition, I am afraid to give up my suffering, since I would have to get to know a whole new part of me without it. It has been my constant companion since my very early years. I wonder who I would be without my suffering. I wonder what would replace it because it has taken so much of my life’s energy to bear it. What would I do with this intense drive within me to fix my pain and suffering? Where do I put the energy that drove me to succeed while hiding my disability? Obviously, I am not hiding my PTSD anymore.
In addition, I am afraid that if I give up suffering, I will lose the support of Lisa, my therapist. She is one of the first attentive listeners I have found in my life and her presence in my life has brought me to a inner life that I only dreamed of having and to a life I didn’t know could exist. I love her and don’t ever want to lose her from my life. I am attached to another woman for the first time in my life. She is definitely a source who helps me with the challenge of daily self regulation that comes with PTSD. I have always thought this needed to be done alone. It was hard for me to admit I needed a therapist because life was not working. I have done a great deal of personal development with my therapist and now I want to give support and get support from a global group of woman. So, I have taken several steps to develop or become part of some online global communities whose sole purpose is to support women to reach their fullest potential.
To work on my ability to give up suffering, I commit myself whole heartedly to the following practices:
- To let all my emotions and their accompanying intense energy flow through me and out into the universe. To not try to constrict the flow, it only causes further suffering.
- To remind myself throughout the day that I am here to learn to be a peace with being uncomfortable and in pain. To remind myself not to resist or fight it but to breathe into it and let it flow through me and out into the universe.
- To remember in gratitude that all that I am experiencing is bringing me to a deeper relationship with life and it is helping me to fully live this amazing, joyful yet often fearful and painful journey. I will try to embrace the fear, joy and pain as well as its accompanying energy and let the energy flow through me and out into the universe.
I will continue to ponder about what other losses I might have if I gave up my suffering. I really get excited about thinking about a life without suffering but I wonder if I can ever be without suffering? Isn’t it just part of life? There is now a sense of lightheartedness as I write this blog. There is a joy in my heart that is also terrifying me. I actually am growing in my ability to believe life will support me and that I will be able to handle whatever life throws at me. However, I still have that traumatic thinking – “what is the next bad thing that is going to happen to me.” Right now I am holding both joy and deep anxiety. I immediately constricted from the energy that accompanies these emotions. Breathing through them and letting the emotion and energy flow through me and out into the universe is still not always my first response but I do see improvement.