My Pain Was a Gift and a Catalyst for Growth


“Sometimes
pain
is
the
teacher
we
require,
a
hidden
gift
of
healing
and
hope.”
~Janet
Jackson

I
was
becoming
more
and
more
confused
as
to
what
my
feelings
were
toward
my
husband.
Longing
for
that
personal
adult
male
connection,
I
started
to
feel
trapped
in
my
marriage.
However,
I
still
had
a
very
strong
sense
of
our
family
unit
and
my
commitment
to
it.

I
wasn’t
going
to
do
anything
to
jeopardize
the
family,
even
if
it
meant
sacrificing
my
personal
happiness.
I
made
a
conscious
decision
that
my
life
was
enough.
It
wasn’t
perfect,
but
it
was
enough.

However,
within
a
few
months,
I
knew
in
my
heart
that
my
husband
and
I
were
further
apart
emotionally
than
even
I
could
accept
or
ignore
any
longer.
I
had
to
address
it,
but
I
had
to
do
it
carefully.
I
wanted
to
make
sure
my
husband
understood
that
I
still
loved
him;
we
just
needed
to
work
on
some
things.
I
believed
it
would
make
both
of
us
happier.

I
found
time
one
night
after
dinner.
We
had
just
finished
cleaning
up
the
kitchen
and
were
standing
by
the
counter.
The
mood
was
relaxed
and
we
had
some
privacy;
the
girls
were
busy
working
on
their
homework
upstairs.
It
seemed
as
good
a
time
as
any.

I
took
a
deep
breath
and
blurted
out,
“I
think
we
are
not
as
close
as
married
people
should
be.”

My
husband
looked
at
me
funny,
first
a
little
quizzically
as
if
he
didn’t
understand
what
he
had
just
heard.
Then
his
face
relaxed
and
a
look
of
release
washed
over
it.
His
response
shocked
me
to
my
core.


“I
agree,”
he
said
with
relief.
“I
haven’t
loved
you
for
a
long
time.
I
was
just
pretending.”

“What?
What
did
you
just
say?!?”
I
stammered,
feeling
as
if
I
couldn’t
catch
my
breath.

His
words
were
suffocating.
I
stood
there,
motionless,
as
a
torrent
of
emotions
raged
inside
of
me.
I
looked
into
the
eyes
of
the
person
I
thought
I
knew
completely,
that
I
had
trusted
without
question.
A
cold,
damp
feeling
of
dread
came
over
me.
He
was
the
person
I
thought
loved
me
unconditionally,
the
one
that
I
had
built
my
life
with.


What
did
he
just
say?

Now,
I
wasn’t
expecting
flowers
and
chocolates.
But
I
wasn’t
expecting
that.
I
was
expecting
his
response
to
be
more
along
the
lines
of
“I
agree.
I
feel
it
too.
What
can
we
do
about
it?”

I
was
astonished.
I
was
numb.
I
cried.
I
pleaded
for
some
explanation.
He
had
none.
He
said
he
would
have
gone
on
pretending
forever,
but
since
I
dared
to
bring
it
up,
he
was
able
to
finally
be
honest.
We
briefly
tried
marriage
counseling,
but
his
mind
was
made
up.
He
didn’t
love
me.
He
was
sorry.
He
felt
guilty
for
the
pain
he
was
causing
the
girls
and
me,
but
he
didn’t
love
me.


We
were
divorced
within
the
year.
Everyone
marveled
at
how
civil
we
were.
How
well
I
was
handling
everything.
I
went
into
survival
mode
during
the
divorce
proceedings.

I
had
to
protect
my
children
emotionally.
All
of
my
strength
went
into
doing
that.
I
had
to
stay
calm.
I
knew
they
were
watching
me.
I
tried
not
to
argue.
I
tried
to
act
normally.
Really,
I
tried.

I
also
had
to
financially
protect
myself
and
my
children.
There
were
so
many
things
to
think
about.
How
could
I
stay
in
the
house
with
the
kids?
They
were
in
high
school
by
then
and
I
didn’t
want
to
uproot
them.
How
could
I
pay
for
college?
We
were
just
getting
by
with
two
salaries
and
one
house.
How
could
I
make
this
work?
We
eventually
figured
the
financial
part
out.
In
comparison,
that
turned
out
to
be
the
easy
part.

He
moved
out,
we
got
divorced,
and
then
I
fell
apart.

This
experience
exposed
some
very
deep
wounds
within
me.
Wounds
I
had
that
for
many
years
had
been
scabbed
over.
Deep,
thick
scabs
that
protected
me
and
allowed
me
to
pretend
they
weren’t
there.
Now,
without
warning,
they
had
been
ripped
wide
open.

Wounds
are
funny
things.
We
all
have
them.
We
respond
from
them,
sometimes
consciously,
but
many
times
not.
They
affect
our
thoughts
and
behaviors
even
when
we’re
not
aware
of
it.
If
we
look
close
enough
we
can
even
see
others’
wounds
in
their
actions.


Some
wounds
can
lie
dormant
for
many
years
and
only
return
to
taunt
us
when
we
are
faced
with
the
very
thing
that
wounded
us.
And
the
funniest
thing
of
all
is
that
wounds
don’t
heal
on
their
own,
regardless
of
how
much
we
pretend
they
are
not
there.
We
have
to
heal
them
ourselves.

My
personal
wounds
had
to
do
with
self-love
and
my
relationships
with
others.
And
they
were
deep,
deeper
than
I
had
ever
realized.
When
they
resurfaced,
I
was
surprised
not
only
by
their
presence
but
by
their
intensity.
There
had
been
signs
through
the
years,
but
they
were
easy
enough
to
ignore.

My
wounds
might
surprise
you.
I
believe
most
people
consider
me
to
be
a
smart,
attractive,
capable
woman
with
many
accomplishments
in
my
life.
“Capable”
as
a
nice
way
to
say
assertive
or
a
take-charge
kind
of
woman.

But
there
is
also
another
side
to
me,
a
side
that
has
deep-rooted
feelings
of
not
being
“good
enough”
or
not
being
“worth
the
effort”.
My
thoughts
would
go
something
like
“I’m
pretty,
just
not
pretty
enough.
I’m
thin,
just
not
thin
enough.”
I’m
smart,
but
intelligence
wasn’t
something
celebrated
in
a
girl
growing
up
during
the
sixties
and
seventies.
We
were
told
to
make
sure
we
weren’t
smarter
than
our
future
husbands,
because
men
didn’t
find
smart
women
attractive,
and
God
forbid
of
all
things,
don’t
be
capable.

But
the
traits
not
celebrated
were
the
ones
I
clung
to.
I
believed
they
were
all
I
had
to
offer.
I
was
the
smart
and
capable
one.
My
intellect
and
the
sheer
force
of
my
will
allowed
me
to
succeed
in
most
endeavors.
I
became
goal-oriented
and
proved
my
worth
by
accomplishing
my
goals.
I
never
allowed
myself
to
fail,
because
success
was
expected,
it
was
the
only
thing
that
I
believed
validated
me.

That,
however,
didn’t
translate
into
healthy
personal
relationships.
I
didn’t
find
value
in
myself
as
a
whole
person,
so
in
turn,
I
never
believed
that
the
whole
of
me
could
be
embraced,
cherished,
and
loved.
I
was
the
only
the
“smart”
and
“capable”
one.


Why
couldn’t
I
love
myself?
Why
didn’t
I
feel
I
was
worth
the
effort?
Why
didn’t
I
see
the
whole
person
and
celebrate
my
strengths,
laugh
at
my
weaknesses,
and
cherish
the
little
girl
in
me
that
was
just
doing
the
best
she
could?

Eight
years
ago,
I
didn’t
know.
Today,
after
having
lived
through
deep
pain
and
more
personal
self-reflection
and
inner
work
than
I
care
to
admit,
I
believe
I
have
some
understanding
of
the
larger
journey.

Pain
was
my
catalyst.
Deep,
aching
pain
that
stopped
me
in
my
tracks
and
made
me
choose
between
exiting
this
lifetime
(yes,
I
considered
it)
and
seeking
deeper
answers
to
heal
the
ball
of
hurt
I
had
become.
I
chose
to
seek
deeper
answers
and
that
was
the
beginning
of
my
spiritual
journey.

Over
the
years
I
have
learned
to
open
my
heart
to
myself
and
look
at
my
experiences
with
a
wider
lens.
I
see
my
divorce
and
subsequent
pain
and
depression
as
a
gift
that
transformed
my
life
and
me
along
with
it.

I’ve
traveled
back
into
my
childhood
and
identified
the
core
trauma
that
I
experienced
that
shaped
the
personality
(the
smart,
capable,
one)
and
the
embedded
belief
(I
had
to
succeed
to
have
value)
from
the
essence
of
who
I
am.
That
took a
lot
 of
work
because
the
personality
traits
and
beliefs
we
create
are
so
intertwined
into
who
we
think
we
are
that
it
is
difficult
to
separate
them,
as
they
have
been
‘us’
for
our
whole
lives.

In
our
defense,
much
of
the
‘less
than’
beliefs
we
hold
are
a
result
of
the
negative,
punitive
language
that
is
deeply
embedded
in
our
religious
and
spiritual
constructs.
Many
of
us
have
come
from
a
traditional
religious
belief
system
of
‘original
sin
and
karma
that
we
need
forgiveness
for’
and
move
to
a
spiritual
belief
system
of
‘we
need
to
learn
our
lessons
and
repeating
our
lessons
until
we
finally
get
them.’


What
if
there
is
nothing
to
learn
and
no
penance
to
do?
What
if
everything
in
life
is
an
experience
for
us
to
feel
emotion
and
live
from
that
deep
space?
That
every
emotion
is
an
opportunity
for
us
to
expand
our
awareness
and
embrace
the
magnificence
of
who
we
are.

Deep
emotions
shake
us
out
of
our
complacent
lives
and
spur
us
into
action.


In
the
experience
is
the
emotion
and
in
the
emotion
is
the
gift.

Keep
digging
because
the
real
you
is
in
there.

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typo,
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