"Whatever pain and suffering our life has borne, we must nevertheless be thankful. He who is afraid of suffering is also afraid of joy." Lou Andreas-Salome (1861-1937)
I love this quote and the insight it offers, as it resonates deeply with my own life experiences. Lou Andreas-Salome's words reflect a simple yet profound understanding: that the avoidance of pain and suffering leads to a debilitating retraction from the joy of living; and that, conversely, accepting their inevitability is incredibly liberating.
She who loves most deeply will also be capable of feeling the greatest pain. She who shrinks from that pain will not allow herself to love freely. Loving unreservedly engenders a state of gratitude for the lessons we learn in life, even when they hurt.
The transmutation of pain and suffering into understanding can build incredible strength, character, and courage, and also increase one's ability to experience joy and thankfulness.
Pain and suffering offer hidden gifts when we invest our energy in discovering and embodying the messages they bring. Pain is a messenger. When we listen to it we gain insight - insight we can use to inform and improve our lives.
Shrinking back from the threat of sorrow or loss is a movement away from life. Expansion into any experience, and becoming more open and permeable to it, is a rich source of true learning. In this spirit, one will not seek out unpleasant experiences, but neither will one withdraw or demur for fear of projected consequences.
I'd love to live in a world where nobody need ever suffer pain or hardship again, and where everyone could be joyously free. In the absence of that world, and whilst doing what we can to bring it into being, we can do our best to share insights and reach out to others who yearn for autonomy and true connection. Paradoxically, I would not be the individual I am today without having borne my share of sadness. I have lived through sufficient pain and suffering to learn to appreciate the gifts they have brought to me, and the joy I feel in the simplest aspects of being alive is massively deepened because of them.
If you're in pain, or suffering emotionally, physically or mentally, please know that this phase will pass and that it has much to offer in terms of growth, even if it's hard to see right now. Please reach out for help, and take the time to celebrate the things for which you are thankful. Most of all, remember to look within yourself - and get outdoors whilst doing so if possible! - for the most profound guidance of all is to be found there if only one listens attentively enough.
(If you'd like to find out more about Lou Andreas-Salome, you might want to check out this Blog post about her. Muse to the likes of Nietzsche and Rilke, she was really a remarkable character!)
'A Call for Love', completed 23/11/2018, acrylics, acrylic inks and gel pens on A3 heavyweight mixed media paper.
When now-17-year-old Raven was a newborn, I spent our nap times reading 'A Course in Miracles'. It was a very positive and uplifting experience despite the Christo-religious framing of its messages (as I read, I crossed out the words 'Jesus' and 'God' and replaced them with the words 'Life' or 'The Universe'!) Many miraculous events occurred while I was studying it, including a fantastically mind-boggling Spontaneous Healing Incident. These deepened my burgeoning sense of spirituality and re-opened my heart to the possibility of miracles, healing and acceptance of myself.
Of all of the content in ACIM, the words which resonated most deeply with me back then were these -
"Everything is love or a call for love."
"Everything is love or a call for love."
I am resonating with these words more than ever as I mull the modern disease of looking for love, yet so often pushing it away. It's easy to see how unconscious, dysfunctional behaviours stem from our largely unmet need to be unconditionally loved and accepted for who we are. It is a conundrum of 'civilisation' that it creates so many attachment disorders, which in turn go on to cause destructive and divisive behaviours in the unfortunate children who develop them. The tools our parents were given with which to nurture us so often lead to a Great Divide forming between them and us, their offspring.
For a while now I've been doing 'inner child' work to release the 'expectation of rejection' which has haunted me for as long as I can remember. I can feel my inner child - her anger, her pain, her sense of injustice, her railing against the unfairness of being branded 'difficult', 'defiant', 'troubled' - beginning to soften into the understanding that yes, everything is love or a call for love. She's starting to trust that I love her regardless of what anyone else thinks: that she is loved now as she was not loved then. I begin to see how impossible it was for her to make sense of her mother's rejection and criticism, the bullying, the controlling, the blaming and shaming, the punishments and the ostracisation. And I begin to feel that it's entirely probable that my mother experienced similarly unloving parenting which made her capable of and given to such behaviour.
Pain is passed from one generation to the next until someone is willing to feel it and heal it. This process takes not just awareness but courage, determination and perseverance. Anyone who tells a trauma survivor to 'just get over it', or to 'forgive and forget', does not understand the effect trauma has on brain development and cognition, much less of the heartbreak survivors live with every day...
"Our deepest wound births the pattern we will repeat most often. Find, face and heal the wound, and the pattern will be released." - Jay Taylor
The process of fitting us to the society into which we are born has a lot to answer for, and as well as forgiving and/or understanding, it is our job right now to hold this process to task - to face it bravely, informed by our bone-deep experience, and leave it behind as we stride on fearlessly towards our goal of replacing it with something new and life-serving.
And so my heart is beginning to allow the possibility of feeling empathy for the woman whose behaviour caused me so much pain. This is very different from 'ought to', 'should be able to', or 'it is all in the past - move on...'
I begin to understand that when she called my baby body forth from the aether, my mother, too, was calling out for love - a type of love that she was not able to elicit or model; a kind of love which her behaviour towards me actually made impossible. I begin to consider accepting that this was our fate; that there is an opportunity to extract and cultivate new and positive meaning from our shared experience; that, in fact, this process is already unfolding.
As I lay with my own child, reading 'A Course In Miracles', my newly-activated maternal instincts forming a shield of unconditional love, this knowledge began to proliferate in my awareness. My 'rebellious', feisty nature, borne of the lifelong core conflict between my mother and me, began to take an accounting of itself. 17 years later, this life-changing process continues to work its way through my system, still driving me to seek out the truth, bringing wave after wave of new insight.
Humanity is evolving, and I am evolving, too. All over the world, our experiences are mirroring each other. There are more of us awakening to this realisation every day. It's a truly global phenomenon.
We are living through the beginning of the end. The current paradigm is not sustainable, just as my mother's relationship with me - and ultimately with her own existence - was not sustainable. This cruel world is beginning to fall apart, to face its own dysfunction in ways which will transform or kill it. Those of us who feel will this suffer accordingly, but our suffering and insight are driving us to create (and experience) something radically new - a new way of life for ourselves and our offspring.
Everything is love or a call for love.
All the hurt and pain and anger I carried for so long is birthing a new me - a version of me who is more capable of loving and being loved than ever before. Bringing trauma to the light allows its shadows to be cast out, or to be enjoyed for their own beauty, or to be played with, danced with, LOVED.
"That which divides must be abandoned in favour of that which unites" - Jay Taylor
Do you hear the Call?
The original painting 'A Call For Love' is available to art investors worldwide via my online store.
Stream of consciousness ramblings, artings, happenings and brain droppings