For people who have spent their entire lives disconnected from their emotions, venturing into the feeling zone can be unsettling, to say the least. And downright dangerous, if you’ve experienced intolerable* pain in your life.
*A word of clarification: What you consider intolerable, is for you, and you alone, to gauge. Just as your pain is all yours…so is your threshold and tolerance for it, what it feels like inside of you, and what you consider painful in the first place. It’s not to be compared with, or determined by anyone else. Not to be weighed against the norm, or any definition of ‘normal.’ Pain is way too personal for that, and there are a million different ‘normals.’ You get to have your own pain…your own response to it and expression of it…your own threshold and tolerance for it…and your own definition of intolerable.
The other thing that’s all ours when it comes to pain is what we choose to do with it…our strategy for dealing with it, living with it, managing it, or “avoiding it at all cost.” And for those who have made this very common vow early in life, it can feel entirely too risky as adults to break the vow or go anywhere near that dreaded feeling zone.
Who knows what might happen? One little slip, and the catch in your throat could turn into a raging torrent. The quivering chin you can’t seem to control in unguarded moments could give way to something even more uncontrollable. Some things we just can’t hold back. Not forever, at least. We thought we could. We vowed we would. But, no matter how deep we try to bury it, or how long we’ve managed to deny it, pain will eventually work its way to the surface. One way or the other.
It’s a frightening thought. One that makes avoiding pain at all cost seem perfectly reasonable. Who cares about the cost? Escaping pain is worth any cost. Right?
It’s one of the major markers and most sobering awakenings of the healing journey: realizing for the first time just how high the cost has been. And the pain of it could feel unbearable, if it weren’t for a deeper truth surfacing at the same time: the cost of continuing to do what we’ve always done is simply too great. We know it in moments of clarity. We’re lovingly reminded of it when our entrenched defaults kick in. And in the meantime, we are becoming more understanding of the parts of ourselves that kick and scream to do exactly what we want to do and have always done, while our truer parts rise up with courage and resolve, knowing what we must do in order to heal and truly live.
It’s why God brought us here. It’s why we came. It’s why we stay…. In the company of others who understand, and feel the impact of our wounds with us, we are slowly but surely, finding our way back home to our hearts, and to the One waiting there to welcome us with all the love and comfort we’ve ever needed. The One who knew all along what it would take, and vowed long before we made our vows, that He Himself would bear our sorrows, heal our wounds, and love us to life…at all cost.