I am writing this blog tongue in cheek because I am pissed off about humanity’s commitment to suffering. This light-hearted approach to writing helps prevent me from screaming and pulling my hair out. I just need to get this out while my arms are wailing about in the air. Bear with me.
We all have experienced, are experiencing, or will experiences suffering in our lives. We must like to suffer simply because we continue to suffer when it is not necessary. Why give up a good thing eh? We have suffered for millennia – that’s a commitment. So what is suffering and why do we suffer? Firstly, to know suffering we all have had to live through it, to experience it. We all have had to feel what it is like to suffer. Suffering, for the purpose of this blog, refers to long term and includes; continuously feeling pain, misery, distress, agony, self-torment, wounding, self-sacrifice, injury, etc. When we suffer, we feel unhappy, troubled, tormented, and wounded. When we suffer, we learn to endure pain. Since it only takes 10,000 hours to be a master at anything – we are all masters of suffering. Suffering becomes a part of life, a way of life. It becomes our badge of honour (I am being sarcastic here). We do have moments of pure joy, however, there is no continuous state of joy. Joy comes along as if by luck or chance, rather than being something we feel we have control over in our lives.
Unfortunately we usually deal with suffering in a way that enables its continuation as an individual and as a human race. To keep suffering alive we consciously or unconsciously avoid understanding and resolving the causes of the suffering. We go into denial (most of us become either Cleopatra or King Tut, the Queen/King of de-Nile). We make up shite that need not true – all meaning is subjective and it only holds what we attach to it. We stay away from anyone who offers us the truth about our lives and those we fear are often the ones who hold our truth. We continue to do the same thing over and over expecting a different result, which is the very definition of insanity. We blame others for our and identify ourselves as victims. We live entitled lives (a victim coupled with entitlement, whoa Nellie, watch out for this combination). We seek comfort in keeping things the same, same=safe=stuck. We are not curious, and we seek people who support us in our situation of suffering. We bite even harder on our beliefs and on our ideologies (have faith, it will all be OK when we are dead). We abandon ourselves (so that everyone else will as well). Human beings are a strange lot.
Why are we so addicted to suffering? One big reason for being addicted to suffering is because we fear loneliness. Loneliness is about the fear of complete isolation, a life of emptiness. To be with others, we must generally abandon ourselves and accept what is necessary to be in relationship (check it out – still friends with that a-hole? Why? Or still married to that person that blames you for everything? Why?). With life partners, we avoid the truth about our lives and the relationship and in so doing we become dependent on each other to a point where co-dependency is a likely result. Co-dependency is a sure and simple attempt to escape loneliness. We will do nothing to threaten the relationship because of the fear of loneliness. Let’s not open a can of worms or I may get the boot or want to move on. Or you know the movie line, “You complete me.” Yikes!!! Shiver me timbers.
Here’s what I have learned through experience. This is my truth and not the truth. I am alone. I was born alone. Yes, I had family support from the day of my birth, but I was alone. I am in my body. My body is isolated from the rest of the world and I craved others to stop the loneliness. This craving sets up dependency. The solution is very simple yet most difficult to do; I had to become at ease with the fact that I was born alone. To become at ease alone I had to become comfortable with being with me. I had to see the power in myself without being dependent on others – I had to know myself. There it is again; it seems like self knowledge solves just about everything? Hmmmmm? Very interesting. As Socrates is quoted to have said “An unexamined life is not worth living”. Gee whiz, know thyself.
So to stop the relentless suffering, I/we must face our truth and we must become at ease alone. We must face the pain no matter how painful. We must feel the misery, the shame, the guilt, the loneliness, etc. Here’s the deal: Facing the pain directly now will allow you to release the suffering in the long term. We must follow the saying, ‘Short term pain (facing the truth) for long term gain (end of suffering),’ versus what we normally do: ‘short term gain (avoidance) for long term pain (suffering continues and it intensifies).’
In facing the pain we must be prepared to let go of all relationships that do not serve our greater good. I have found that for those who begin the work of knowing themselves, this requirement of letting go relationships is where they fall down and willingly go back to the suffering. Our attachment to unhealthy relationships is far too strong. We cannot overcome the dependency. There’s too much at stake, whether it is the sharing of wealth on divorce, no one serving your needs, being ostracized by family and friends, being alone, being seen as a loser, or a sense of shame and guilt. I have seen very poor life partner relationships continue because the co-dependency is too great. We are all powerful alone. Try it out.
If you are willing and are committed to go the distance you will discover love and beauty beyond your understanding. You will feel freedom for the first time in your life. You will feel inspired to make a difference in the world. You will be a magnificent example to many. You will live, truly live. Here’s what Khalil Gibran says about those who deal with their suffering in a healthy manner: “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars”. Your journey THROUGH suffering is what matters in life. Your decision to remain in suffering is your death. To avoid or to wallow will lead to equal amounts of suffering in the long term. One must confront and work through life’s struggles and hardships in order to thrive.
Stop the suffering and begin to heal yourself through self-knowledge. Become at ease alone and choose relationships that fulfill your values, your non negotiables and other requirements from a point of clarity. You will know what it is like for the first time to truly be in relationship because a relationship with another is not possible without first having a relationship with yourself.
All of the above has been written from my experience of facing my pain. I suffered until I was 50 years old. Nine years later at 59 years old I feel like I have lived for nine years. I can only know what is written here by living it. I can only express the aforementioned if I have felt it. And I do. Join me. The world needs you to know your truth.
This blog was inspired by my partner Anne who has the courage to face tremendous pain. She will emerge a strong soul seared with scars. A great example to us all. Thank you Anne.