Dealing with Pain
Marianne Williamson

By midlife, most of us have a lot of impacted emotional pain.  That pain can poison our system or leave it.  Those are pretty much our only two choices.

Sometimes depression is to the soul what fever is to the body:  a way to burn up what needs to be burned up so that health can return.  Some dark nights of the soul last months or years, while others just last a night or two.  Either way, they're part of a mystical detox of our accumulated fear and despair.  Any thought not reconciled with truth remains in our psychic "in-box," put in the trash but not yet deleted from the computer.  Whatever energy isn't brought to light, surrendered and transformed, stays in the dark--an insidious force of constant, active attack on both body and soul.

Even if you've lived a pretty good life, unless you've lived it in some isolated mountain village where everyone around you was nice all the time, then you're probably carrying some pain around.  In your 30s and 40s you were so busy that you were able to keep distracted, but sometime. . . that pain demands to be heard.  It will be heard.  And it's far, far better to hear it in your head and in your soul, than from your doctor when the test results come back and unfortunately they do not look good.

Turning on the TV these days, one feels bombarded by advertisements for sleep medications.  

It's understandable, of course, that people who have to get up for work the next morning will do anything necessary to get a good night's sleep.

But there's a deeper story here, of people seeking help in their efforts to handle the monsters that often emerge from their psyches very late at night.  Some of these monsters need to be let out.  They need to be freed from the caves they live in.  They bring messages of pain, it's true, and yet the pain they bring is often important pain.  If you don't feel the guilt, how will you ever reach your motivation to make amends?  If you don't feel the self-loathing, how will you ever reach the motivation to act more responsibly next time?  If you avoid the pain, you'll miss the gain.  Just suppressing the monsters only makes them larger.  Allowing them out--and allowing yourself to finally face them--is the only way to make sure that they will ever go away.

It's not always fun to face your past--not the white-washed, historically revised version, but the real backstory you don't look at daily because it would make you cringe so much if you did.  It's not really about what you don't want others to know; the actual events probably weren't any worse than what others have been through in their lives.  Compared to others, you might not have even done so badly.  But wherever you didn't live up to your personal best, shame remains like an underground toxin.  You live with regrets that haunt you, perhaps rarely during the day when the ego's illusionist worldview holds sway, but during those nights when no pill or drink or amount of sex can keep them from you.  They move through locked doors in your mind as though they're ghosts, which they are.  And no amount of "Go on now, go!" can shoo them away.

Only the rigorous work of taking a fearless moral inventory will do that--the bravery to respect your conscience, to know that if something's up for review, then it's best to review it.  And that can be difficult.  In the words of the ancient Greek playwright, Aeschylus, "He who learns must suffer.  And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God."  Numbing yourself--while sleeping or waking--will not erase the pain; only forgiveness and love can do that.  Then, through the alchemy of atonement and grace, the ghosts will go back to the nothingness from whence they came.  And they will be no more.  The past is over, and you are free.

The need for change as we get older—an emotional pressure for one phase of our lives to transition into another—is a human phenomenon, neither male nor female. There simply comes a time in our lives—not fundamentally different from the way puberty separates childhood from adulthood—when it’s time for one part of ourselves to die and for something new to be born.

The purpose of this book by best-selling author and lecturer Marianne Williamson is to psychologically and spiritually reframe this transition so that it leads to a wonderful sense of joy and awakening.


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