Suffering Lesson #1: It is Okay to Feel

So often, we avoid feelings. Especially those of the negative kind. One of the first lessons that suffering has taught me is that it is not only okay to feel, but it is also necessary. Necessary for healing. Necessary for growth. And our feelings are also an indicator of where we are at any given point along this road that we travel called life.

I spent the afternoon riding along with my sister and broinlaw as they took care of some needed business. Along the journey, we passed through many neighborhoods and traveled quite a few of the same roads that my husband and I rode along together. It was a pleasant ride, but a painful trip because I saw constant reminders of what we had been to each other in the past and made note of a lot of the places where we had gone and things we had done. My heart hurt because I could almost feel my husband’s presence beside me in the car and I’d wanted so badly to reach out and put my hand upon his thigh as I had done thousands of times before in times past. But I could not do that…because he was not there.

Alongside the pain, there was pleasure as I reminisced on the countless journeys that we travelled together. The fun we had in the car as we talked and sang along to music and drove to certain points simply because I was curious about where those points led. I both missed my husband and celebrated his being a part of my life during the best period of my life.

I was grateful for the feelings that I experienced this afternoon because they let me know that I am a lot further along this path than I had previously realized. Where before, I could not remember my husband without intense pain and an almost knee-jerk reaction of avoidance, I was able to feel the pain of his loss while also smiling at his love. That marked a true milestone within me.

My feelings of pain also let me know that I am still capable of experiencing passion and love. Those did not die within me when last I saw my husband’s face and heard his voice. Until I am blessed again with a companion who will love me with the same intensity and devotion of my husband, I can utilize the passion and love that I feel in my heart to love and to give to others. And to live life with the same intensity of passion that I always had. I thought that passion had been killed by suffering. It turns out that it had only been laying dormant, waiting for the day when I would again get up and live this life once more.

I am grateful for the ability to cry and to feel. That means that I also have the same ability to laugh and to feel great joy. For me, one’s capacity to feel pain is in direct proportion to their capacity to love.

I wonder where tomorrow’s journey will take me. I am more than ready for the ride.

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