What is the difference between going through the pain of loss and creating pain in the midst of loss?

Benjamin July 29 ClenchingThere was a time when I hurt so bad after the death of Bryan that I would have done anything to feel different. It didn’t matter what it was, as long as it was not his death and the impending deaths of Lydia and Matt.

In my desire to run from the pain, I added pain. Life was killing me and I joined in. I was killing me, too.

I have watched many living in loss lose themselves and fall into a pattern of self-destruction. I have worked with many who want to numb the pain, run as far away as they can, or try to ignore the anguish that has beset them.

I have watched tragedy compounded by self-destruction and self-mutilation physically, mentally, emotionally and/or spiritually. I have sat with many in so much pain they would take anything over the loss of a child, a parent, a sibling or a life partner. And often they take every road imaginable to escape. When denial doesn’t work, they try destruction.

There is nothing I can say. There is nothing that can be said. I sit in non-judgment and rest in unconditional love. For I have been there.

We sit in silence. We sit in sorrow. We sit within the incendiary emotions of loss – the anger, the fear, the rage that enflames the self-destruction. And I wait.

I wait, watching the pain take someone else down the inevitable path of cascading sorrow. I follow, following as close as I can but leaving room for the one who is ricocheting off the plethora of pain’s manifestations.

Benjamin July 29 Self loveHow can someone be held who can’t be held? How can their cries be absorbed in the vacuous sorrow that consumes every part of them?

Those that taught me how to love, how to come to a place of self-love, how to heal, did not try to fix me. They did not try to brush my grief away or give me empty platitudes. They gave me presence.

The most we can give to another in deep sorrow is presence. I needed to be held in my isolation. I needed someone to be there, to be here, when I felt I was so lost in the nowhere and everywhere of grief.

Self-destruction is the implosion of self. It is the isolation. It is the excruciating pain of aloneness. It is the emptiness of separation. And when someone is in deep loss, it can create an isolation, aloneness and separation that is absolutely unbearable.

So those of us in unbelievable pain reach for a different hurt. We push those that want to be there for us away. We treat our isolation, aloneness and separation with isolation, aloneness and separation.

I just wanted the world to go away. I just wanted to go away. I wanted to be left alone. I couldn’t take the pain of being with others, and yet, it was so painful to be so utterly alone. There was no place to hide. There was no place to run. I was left with two choices – self-destruct or heal.

Benjamin July 29 Worldgo awayThe only way I could get to healing was to go through the pain without clenching. My resistance to my pain was creating more pain. I needed to find a way not to hurt myself more in the midst of all my hurt. I had to lean into everything that surfaced and feel everything I felt.

What was, and is, essential to my healing is authenticity. I need to be real. This is who I am and I have no time or energy to be what the world wants me to be. I am who I am. This is what it is. It hurts. This hurts. I will not pretend in order to make the world feel better. If I am to make it through this, I must be true to myself. And the truth is, this is all I can be.

There are some people that can’t be around the unpredictable gyrations of sorrow. I let them go in love. I do not know what to expect of me, much less carry any expectations of others. But was crucial to my healing to not mask what I was going through.

And through it I did. I went through every emotion imaginable. I also needed to address my guilt. Why was I healthy and they were all dying? Day after day their bodies were eroding before me and I was still able to walk, to move with ease, to breathe, to live. So much of my initial self-destruction was fueled by guilt.

There was so much I had to work through. I believe I’ll be working through my loss the rest of my life. The issues have changed. They dynamics of my sorrow are different. But nothing is “over.” Everything is still with me.  I will always feel a part of me is missing in the perpetual missing of the ones I love.

Because I have chosen to heal, I have found healing. Healing is about being real. Healing is not that the pain has gone away. I still miss them. I will always long for them and sorrow our physical separation. Healing is finding peace in my longing, in my sorrow. Healing is being real in the tragedy of a reality I would not wish on anyone. Healing is going through everything with an open heart, no matter how much it hurts. As long as I breathe, I will be healing.

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