“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” - Kahlil Gibran What a powerful statement. We’ve all heard the phrase, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” right? I suppose that is true, but I do not like the negative connotation, because my literal mind interprets that to mean that great suffering is always negative or that some form of death is imminent. Suffering and pain are a natural part of life. Stuff happens. Life happens, and we cannot control that. We can, however, control how we view life and what we make of our experiences. We can accept the lot we are given and not only make the best of it, but move it the direction we want it to go.
If out of suffering emerge the strongest of souls, then perhaps we need to reach deep down to decide how to use the difficult periods in our lives to build our character and emerge from the ashes stronger, more powerful and ready for action. We all have our own story, and if you know me personally or follow this blog, then you know that I’ve had a significant amount of life change in the past couple of years. Much of that change arose from profoundly painful decisions and experiences, but those were necessary in order for me to find my way to where I am now.
I used my pain as the impetus to start my new life. I will not say I have been able to to this with grace and dignity every step of the way, but I do my best every day given the circumstances and the resources I have (energy, emotional intelligence, time, strength.) I believe scars show as reminders of what we have learned, and will fade over time. I also believe, however, that the challenge is to keep the scars from hindering our ability to continue to move, as some scar tissue does after injury or surgery. This is a strong metaphor. If we leave our painful experiences in place and do nothing to massage, stretch or heal the damaged ares, we will eventually lose some of our mobility.
When the physical body sustains an injury or is recovering from surgery, there are three distinct stages of healing: Acute Inflammation, Repair and Remodeling. I compare the emotional and spiritual healing process to the physical, because I believe that the mind, body and spirit are interconnected, and frankly, linking our emotional healing to something tangible like tissue repair can give us hope and focus. The end of a relationship is an excellent example of the need for healing and recovery.
Almost everyone has experienced the loss of a relationship, either by their own choice or by the other person’s choice. It hurts, is often a blow to the ego and emotions, and can take some time to recover.
Stage 1. Acute Inflammation. This is the time immediately following injury. When a relationship ends, there is a period of pain, sometimes experienced as anger, hurt, frustration, sadness or some combination thereof. As with physical injury, this is very normal. The immediate response is pain, swelling, heat and redness. Inflammation is an imperative part of healing because it helps defuse the toxins to allow the healing process to begin. Plainly stated, we have to feel the injury, the pain, swelling of emotions, and discomfort in order to rid our system of the toxins and negativity that would otherwise fester into something far worse and potentially more damaging. As inflammation decreases, the repair process can begin.
Stage 2. Repair. Damaged structures begin the repair process by forming new connective tissues. This is a fragile time when the injury should not be touched. Only gentle stretching, beginning slowly, and gradually building in intensity over time. At this point, the healing process is building toward remodeling, the final stage.
There is always a period of time after a relationship ends when we need to get ourselves right before we “move on” to another relationship. There is no definite timeframe for this, but we all know we need to take the time to heal, work on figuring ourselves out, learning what we need to learn. This is the time when we are most fragile, and as with physical healing, it is recommended that you allow yourself to heal before hitting the ground running again.
Stage 3. Remodeling. This is the time when you need to take a more active role in your healing. Damaged tissues can be “remodeled” thru a series of range of movement exercises. How fantastically symbolic! Once you have experienced the pain of the injury, given yourself time to feel the pain, allowed the inflammation to push the toxins out of your system, gently eased back into life - into a more active role in your recovery - then you can really remodel and reshape your life.
Taking into account the natural healing process, we can treat difficult times as we would an injury or recovery from surgery by taking this attitude: “Here I am, what now?" or, "It is what it is, now what?” We accept that something has happened, and now we need to recover from it. How do we best do this? It seems for the most part that we readily accept a physical injury and the need to heal from it, but emotionally and spiritually, this presents as a larger challenge. If we change one thing, our perspective, and just accept that we need to heal and move forward, we will already begin to grow in the right direction.
“In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us.” - Rainer Maria Rilke
We have the real opportunity to live fully, with deep meaning and fulfillment. We can all get there with acceptance, love and faith. Allow the hard times to help shape the amazing path in front of you. Let yourself feel the pain, let it flow, and then take an active part in your recovery and keep moving forward. As you travel in this amazing journey called life, you will encounter bumps, twists and turns; this is your time to make that jagged path into something beautiful.