Pain is a personal thing, sometimes. Try as we might to let others in, there are times when they cannot come and sit in the dark rooms of our souls.
Recently, a friend made a statement on social media. Fed up with the phrase, “I know how you feel,” she urged her friends to consider that it is not possible to know how someone else feels. You may relate in some way, she said, but that is not the same as feeling.
And so I realized how often I torture myself with my expectations. I don’t merely hope to be understood, often it becomes a need. I settle now into the soft open space of acceptance, and in it I feel peace. I know that while I may not always be understood, I am invariably loved. So here is a scenario that has compelled me to feel differently about my own ego-fueled need to be understood. This is a letter of sorts, one I have written to my heart more than to any person…
The Worst Five Words
“That’s the way it is,” you told me. I should get over it. The words felt heavy, like bricks erecting a wall between us. I could see you understood nothing. Walk in my shoes; be where I’ve been; feel my pain– these are impossibilities. To be fully understood, to strive to have every dimension of my multifaceted soul seen, is impractical. How could you, while wearing your own scuffed shoes, put on mine and walk in them? And if it were possible at all, how then could you feel the impact of each step as I have felt it in my body? You, having your own threshold for bullshit, your own mind, emotions and experiences, could not fully comprehend what it is to be me, walking as I do.
I am a fool for seeking complete understanding, for presuming you could know how I feel.
So to be loved– that is good enough.
It has to be.
And for love, I am grateful.
There will be a time when again I come to you with arms full of anguish and I say, “Do you see this load? Carry this, please.” You will undoubtedly turn to me, blind to the burden I bear, and say, “That’s the way it is.” Kissing the pearls of tears on my skin, you will love me. For a moment, I will feel a lightning bolt of rage in my belly, anger at your inability to wholly fathom my pain. And then I will remember what I learned today about understanding, that it is not a prerequisite to love. And again I will remind myself that you, wearing your own scuffed shoes, cannot possibly put on mine. But neither can I wear yours. Still, we can walk together, bound by love.
And that will be good enough.
Mantra: Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional ~ Buddha