I feel like my soul got stabbed yesterday. It was an old wound, one that had been ripped open countless times and covered over with decades worth of scabs and scar tissue. It was one that I actually thought had been just about healed for good. So when the knife went in, cutting so cleanly through the callouses, deep down to the core of my being, I was both saddened and surprised to feel how familiar and comfortable it felt.
And man, did it hurt. An intense pain that made me almost physically fall over. It made me catch my breath and for a moment made me wonder if I was really feeling what I was feeling and actually revisiting this ancient place of grief and despair. When I realized that indeed, I was in this place again, the devastation was palpable to those around me.
But here's the interesting thing about severe emotional pain combined with age. There was a time when this would have shattered me for days, even weeks, and it would have consumed my mind and made it difficult for me to function. But now, after so many years of learning how to heal myself and deal with others' disrespect and disregard for my worth as a person, I'm able to see the hurt for what it is, note the source of where it came from (not me), and begin to build up the scar tissue again. More quickly and effectively this time.
This is a choice.
I can very easily choose to wallow in my misery, taking everyone around me down with me, focusing on the pain and the betrayal and frustration that this situation is happening yet again to me. But the sun came up this morning, there are birds literally singing outside my window, the people that I love are thankfully well, and I have much to be grateful for. What could have been a fall from a cliff that left me broken and bleeding is instead a pebble that I tripped over on the sidewalk. Did I skin my knees and pull some muscles? Sure. But I'm able to pick myself up, patch myself up, and keep on walking. I may walk more slowly for the next few days, but I'm upright and choosing to continue on my journey.
As strange as it may sound, there is a certain benefit to when you have been hurt so deeply that you drown for months in acute pain and sorrow. When you DO get through it, you can never be hurt that profoundly again. You do get stronger in the broken places and when something close to it happens, there is an odd comfort in knowing that you will never be quite that devastated again.
In The Princess Bride Wesley famously says, "Life IS pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something." In a way that's true. But on the other hand, "No pain, no gain." I would not have the strength I have now, to deal with this latest challenge, had I not gone through the pain before and come out stronger on the other side. It made me wiser, tougher, and more resilient overall. I'm not saying that I'm glad I've had to go through these things in my life. But these things are going to come our way, no matter how much we try to dodge them, and we have to make the choice to either let them destroy us, or let them be experiences which we can learn from and which will ultimately make us happier and healthier people overall.
You can get bitter or you can get better. I'm choosing better.