Transform the Pain of Difficult Times to GrowApr 30, 2022 11:00AM ● By Liz Driscoll Jorgensen
When life is at its most stressful, unpredictable and seemingly random, I have always used specific inspirational writing to help focus and center my own fearful “monkey mind”. The same wise words are comforting, familiar and yet new again, as I have read them in different decades to help me to feel grounded.
As I have come to learn, there is always a meaning to my pain if I can stay with the pain and allow it to be my teacher. This is not the same as saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” Instead, it is a way of embracing our inevitable pain and suffering to grow emotionally and spiritually.
Pain grows when we mentally “fight” against it and it festers when we deny it, turning into compulsions, nightmares and worse. One of my hopes for the aftermath of the losses of COVID-19 is that we begin to accept the inevitable nature of human suffering and willingly enter into its wisdom.
I have spent many hours these past two years or so helping others and sitting in my own deep pain at the same time. Some days, I didn’t know where my strength might come from. I was open to Spirit, the Divine, my dog Millie, chocolate and many dear friends.
Both of my parents died within 14 months of one another (as well as a dear mentor and another friend) and I was able to observe how others have faced great losses. Nothing humbled me as much as this unremitting loss and witnessing physical pain of others who would not get better.
I also realized that many whom I believed to be kind and thoughtful lifetime connections were not able to be there for me, even in a symbolic way at the time of my greatest need in decades. I have let myself feel this pain as well, and let them go to their own journeys, without expectations or resentments.
The hardest part of surviving pain and loss for me is the winnowing of close relationships that can happen due to others’
inability to sit with suffering and, in parallel, their fear and acknowledgment that great loss is coming to them one day as well. It is a certainty that we don’t have to run from, and peace comes from this acceptance.
My back-to-back, fast-paced chaos propelled me to full gut, mind and heart acceptance of my own fairly average demise, coming sooner than I expect (as it does for most). What a wonderful freedom it is. Am I next? Oh well, it may be, or I may live to advanced old age and therefore witness many, many additional losses. This is a Buddhist idea—every gift has a price, and each day may be the day we die. Accepting this is an edgy kind of fun.
There have been so many lessons in the past years: what it is we really need, what we can let go of and what we were too “attached” to that in the clarified sight of staying safe and well over having “stuff”, we now see as silly.
Let it go, give it away, share with those who suffer more than we have. These are my lessons, as well as the precious qualities of true friendship, the subtle joy of sacrificing in the short-term for the deep joy of days to come.
In closing, I am sharing Desiderata, written by Max Ehrmann in 1912—a poem that seems inspired by the ancients, and gives me comfort every time I read it. The name Desiderata is derived from the word “desideratum”, defined as “that which is needed, something which is wanted or needed”. The word sounds mystical, however, the poem/prayer can be read as a simple set of instructions for how to be sane, kind and okay in any storm.
Sending you all care and hope for continuing to find your own meaning in this time of new life and renewal, as we mourn and accept all we have lost and must lose along the way to be human.
Liz Driscoll Jorgensen, director of Insight Counseling, has over 30 years of experience with adult and adolescent psychotherapy and counseling. She will host “Be Here Now: A Day of Deep Healing and Renewal” on May 20, from 8:30am to 3pm, at Mercy by the Sea, in Madison. The event will involve gentle yoga, narrative healing, sound healing, meditation, mindful eating and time on the beach. For more information about the event and to connect with Jorgensen, click here, call 203-431-9726, email [email protected] or visit InsightCounselingLLC.com. See ad, page 17.
Liz Jorgensen has 30 year’s experience with adolescent and adult psychotherapy and counseling. She is a nationally recognized expert in counseling, particularly in engaging resistant tee... Read More »