“If suffering made a sound we would hardly be able to hear ourselves think.”
–Master meditation and grief teacher and poet Stephen Levine
The last thing a fish would invent is water. In the same way the last thing I noticed I was addicted to was suffering.
It was everywhere, I was soaking in it. My body was wafting a feeling tone of bone-weary sadness and lethargy from every pore. The pain body took up occupancy then slimed every square inch before bolting all the windows and doors to make sure my identification with it, as it, was complete. Its jangled and spiky vibes were systemic, pernicious. As Adyashanti would say, I was “Velcro’d”.
Where I was was off. If I was there, even I wished I wasn’t. Kids would go find another room to play in. Dogs would growl. Even my body odor smelled like it belonged to someone else.
Have you ever tried to out-affirm, out-pray, deny or step over that kind of pain? To stuff a steamer trunk of %dc# like that into a space no one would recognize? There is nothing more pathetic and painful than watching someone do that to themselves. The heart knows the truth.
So, you might ask, how did feeling like Eeyore become my drug of choice? Who knows. All I know is it did feel familiar, in the sense of family, or ancestry or at least collective. Like the uh-oh you get in your gut when you step off the plane onto the tarmac of a war-ravaged country. Its not really personal until you make it so. Then the parasite of suffering sucks up to a new host.
Looking back, I can see how I was continually gathering evidence of not enough, animating it with my attention, fertilizing it with the foods I ate, the way I held my body, even the way I breathed. My first few breaths of each morning were puffed into this gloomy little ghost, the rest of the day spent idly stroking it with two fingers…one of encouragement, one of dread. And I was so proud of that angst, protective of it as mine, my special artistic and intuitive sensitivities and pessimistic proclivities. As if brooding made me European and mysterious instead of just an annoyingly brooding American. Pride and shame together make a kind of emotional epoxy.
So how did I get unstuck from the addiction to suffering?
I’ll tell you: merging onto the highway today (which takes time in an old 4 cylinder Subaru) I realized that what I thought was “being in my heart” was actually a lie: I was leaking energy to my feelings and giving my power away to my feelings of separation. Compassion had turned to wallowing, self-care to neuroticism.
Today I chose to let go of wanting to be controlled by that feeling, and instead to re-claim and re-direct my energy and love to someone else that can truly benefit. In choosing to cut that cord, I feel my energy rise, spine lengthen, and heart expand.
If I get caught by that feeling again, I can rest in knowing that feeling is arising in or on that which I Am, and not the other way around. And if I really look deep within, I can’t find anyone home to actually take posession of that little package of pain.
And that is a huge and blessed relief.