Sitting in the Struggle

When we first feel pain, we treat it as a freakish aberration, and do our best to shrug it off.  Whether it’s mental or physical, we hinge our bets on rest — that it will give us the miraculous fix or our youth.  But neglect rarely makes things better.  Regardless of how deep-seeded our beliefs are that it will.

If rest fails you (or the pain simply shifts to a different incarnate), perhaps switching to a different mindset is the next step.  Knowing that it’s going to take work to heal helps materialize an action plan.  There is a great discredit to do the things that were once so easy.  You took them for granted.   Now struggling to do them is uncomfortable.  Still, there is an empowerment in staying uncomfortable.  Discomfort provokes change.

Working to get back to ‘normal’ is a forsaken mentality in our culture of competition.  Nobody cares that the rehabbing star athlete is able to walk without a cane.  All they want to know is if and when he can monster dunk again.  Until that moment, his work proves irrelevant.  Still, if he can appreciate the little victories… if he can smile while getting out of his car on his own, if he can get down that flight of stairs unencumbered, he can find the hope in his progress.  That is where the battle is won, and where a new normal of grateful optimism emerges.  

To get to that blissful other side, you must be wiling to sit in the struggle.

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I wish I could say it is as steady and resolute as Andy Dufresne tunneling his way through Shawshank (“only to still have to crawl through a river of shit”), but more often than not it is simply choosing to sit in your hole, day after day, and make it less scary.  To not panic or act hastily is a valiant victory.

There is a unique learning that comes through pain.  You learn the certainties of what not to do.  You acknowledge what’s wrong, and why it’s wrong.  From there, letting the healing happen is comparatively easy.
The answers are found in the understanding.

When you’re sitting in your hole, looking up, the light and finish seem so far away.  It’s impossible to climb, and if you did have someone to call, you’re sure they wouldn’t hear you.  But if you look down at the dirt, focusing on where you’re at and what brought you here, you’ll find the ground gets built up from underneath.  Little by little, the mound that sucked you in somehow pushes you up.  Soon enough, and without you even realizing all the ground gained, you can stand in the sun.   

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Emotional pain is very similar to physical pain. Both are a sign that you’re doing something wrong, and that you need to understand something better.  The struggle tells you you’re onto that ‘something’, and you’re in the midst of figuring it out.


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