As I send my baby off to his first day of school as a Senior today, my eyes are a little misty. There is an ache in my chest. It feels a little hollow and empty. I think of all the years leading up to this day and wonder where the time has gone,- how did this happen? I love that it hurts, because it is an indication of how incredibly much I love him. The pain I feel is clean and beautiful… a reminder of why I need to cherish the moments I have.
Just like the pain we feel when our beloved pet dies, or we hear heartbreaking news, clean pain is appropriate. It’s something we want to experience because we value that part of our humanity. We know it is sometimes the price we pay to love.
Clean pain is looking at the whole menu of human experiences and saying, “Although I wouldn’t necessarily choose this, I am willing to go through it because I choose to love and be loved in return.”
Dirty pain, on the other hand, occurs when we have the thoughts, “this isn’t fair, this shouldn’t have happened… Dirty pain asks the question, “Why me?” We wallow in blame and misery and don’t process the pain in a clean way. Instead of allowing ourselves to feel it so that it can pass through us, we resist or react to it in a way that keeps us stuck.
When people avoid pain it shows up as over-eating, over-drinking, buying things we don’t need etc… We try to pretend it’s not there so we don’t have to address it, but of course it’s still there at the end of the day, only now we get to beat ourselves up for the way we are handling it as well.
When we resist or react to pain, it’s like trying to hold a giant beach ball underwater, but when we get tired of resisting it, it pops out with a vengeance and we take it out on those around us.
Resisting and reacting creates even more intensity than the original source of pain.
Processing pain is feeling it on purpose. It’s allowing the pain to sit in your body and noticing the effect of it. Where is it located? What does it look and feel like? We don’t try to fix it or end it, we just allow it to be and are willing to feel it for as long as it takes. This is the way to move through pain in a clean way, and also the fastest way to feel good again.
I can honestly say that I am grateful for pain. I’ve had my share and I know there will be more, but I’m up for it! As long as I choose to love, I am willing to experience heartache.
It’s one of the best parts of our journey here on earth and I hope you’re up for it too!