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  • Writer's pictureDaniela Abedrabbo

Pain has its Purpose

So About That feeling..

"shhhh not another word!" Mom used to always say to us as kids. Feelings weren't exactly welcomed in our household. We learnt at such a young age to dismiss our feelings. It seemed more normal for us to ignore them then to acknowledge them. I was so good at ignoring them, I got away with it most my life. I ignored them so much I mentally would forget they existed. Yep, that's how good we can be at suppressing feelings!

I remember being 16 years old, on the couch, feeling awful. I couldn't even describe to mom what was going on because I had no words for it. All I knew is that I felt really awful. I couldn't move. I asked mom about "death", she panicked and called the doctor right away. After examining me the doctor told her I needed to see a counsellor, he said "your daughter is depressed, she needs to talk to someone." My mom in complete denial and fear of others ever finding out such a thing about her daughter decided to completely ignore what he said and go back to normal life. When mom thought I was physically ill, I might physically die, she was willing to get me help right away but as soon as she found out it was emotional/mental she handled it very differently. On the other hand I had no clue what depression meant. I had never heard of it. I was hurting inside yet I had no clue that's what was going on.

So I went on for many years doing the same thing, hurting and numbing, hurting and numbing.

Then I started dating. It was in long term relationships that I started realizing how life gets so much more challenging when it's no longer about just me, my feelings, my wants and needs. There is someone else to consider. That's when I first realized I wasn't saying what I really wanted to say, I wasn't doing what I really wanted to do. I started suppressing pieces of myself to please others. It was as simple as eating something I really didn't want to eat but being afraid to say "no." Hanging out with people I didn't want to hang out with. Going to events I wasn't interested in. To the point when one day I was asked "Will you Marry Me?" and I said "Yes." I was genuinely excited and grateful in the moment. But when the seriousness of a wedding and marriage kicked in, everything in me started feeling out of place. And, yes I did not listen, I suppressed the feelings and fears.

Those fears had nothing to do with my partner. Those fears were from my past, from observing my parents as a couple, from experiencing hurt and distrust in my earlier relationships with men. The fears and pain are from all the things I didn't get to say to my parents or my exes. I brought my old pain into this relationship and allowed all of these conversations and emotions to get in the way of giving my marriage an actual chance.

And I kept going. I numbed. I was offered a great position with a start up company. Again, everything in me said "RUN" but I ignored and I took the job. I was miserable. I think this was probably my career rock bottom. I hated it with so much. I did not connect with the team. I was so uninterested with the service we sold. I was uninspired. It had nothing to do with the company, the team or the position itself. I was just not aligned with what I wanted and I was really hurting but I refused to look at it. I knew the right thing to do was actually face my feelings, admit it was a wrong move and leave. I didn't. I stayed until they let me go.

It was uncomfortable. It was in my gut. I couldn't describe this sensation but I always knew it hurt, I knew it didn't feel right. Sometimes it got much louder and I would right away try to distract myself. I would make myself busy, super busy all the time so I didn't notice it. If that didn't work I would turn to food. I would eat to make it go away. I would eat even when not hungry, eat things that I knew my stomach couldn't handle. I hid behind sugar, I wanted it all the time. I would not have even started a meal and I would already be thinking about where I would find my next sugar fix. I was diagnosed with IBS (because they actually could not find what was wrong) and developed sensitivities to so many foods. I would have brutal attacks, similar to ulcer attacks and the only thing that would take that pain away was morphine at the ER. I got angry. I didn't even understand why I was triggered by things, people, events but I simply was. I would point the finger outward, always.

I continued this pattern in almost every area of my life and it sucked. Pain sucks. I became angry which caused me to become unpleasant and unkind with myself and others. Sometimes it turned into depression, I became so emotionally disconnected that I no longer knew how to feel the "happy, good" feelings. It turned into a mental and physical illness, I kept so much inside, my brain couldn't keep up with all the thoughts, my organs couldn't keep up with all the tense feelings. It can be harmful in so many ways to ignore and/or suppress the pain in our gut.

I became depressed on and off. I even went through phases were I would sit at home and just stare at the walls. I would leave the house and go to work but could not get out of the car. Eventually I could not even work. I disconnected from people and from situations. In relationships I wasn't as present, I felt I was letting people down. My conversations were empty. I felt more and more empty. I just wanted to be home, alone, doing nothing, seeing no one.

Many times I wondered why I was still here and what was the point of life. Many times I wondered what it would be like on the other side. At no point I planned to take my life away but I can certainly see how many get there.

"The pain it will leave once it has finished teaching you." - Pavana

Yes it does. Once we pause and listen, the pain shifts and transforms. I learnt the hard way, but thankfully I learnt. I learnt that the pain will always come back if I don't pause and look at it in a healthy way. Pain is not bad. The pain is telling us something is not aligned, there is something we are not ok with, it is reminding us that we are not being / speaking our truth and we need to stop and shift.

I eventually had to STOP. I stopped everything I was doing and I really mean everything and connected with myself. I listened to what the pain was saying. I faced it and felt those feelings I was avoiding: pain, fears, judgements on myself and/or others, anger, sadness and resentment. I spent a lot of time with myself, mostly through counselling and self-development. Most times it was awful, hard and it felt like it would never end. But the cost of not facing the pain was much worse.

When I stopped and listened, I heard something new, I saw a path that never existed before. I always knew I was very good with people but I had no idea being a counsellor was "my thing." When I stopped and listened, the path was right in front of me, waiting for me to take the next step. I took that step, I went back to school and today I am have my own practice as a Registered Counsellor. Even though being a counsellor was something I never considered, today I am very clear it is one of my gifts and every time I come out of a session with someone, my heart is full. I am in alignment.

When I stopped and listened, I learnt why I was making people wrong. I started accepting my past choices and took responsibility for my part in everything that happened. I decided to practice leaving the past where it belongs and make room for what I really wanted.

When I stopped and listened, I stopped hiding behind sugar and people. When I start feeling pain or hurt, I get my journal out, I email my counsellor, I talk to a friend, I close my eyes, meditate and pray. I listen to it, I explore it, I express it. And when I need help processing it, I ask for help instead of pressuring myself to figure it out on my own.

Today, these feelings creep back up often and I know what to do. Today, I have the tools to face the hurt and pain. Sometimes I go ahead and stop right away and connect inwards. But sometimes, I still ignore them because I don't want to face them. The difference today, is that I don't wait as long. I know it is much more peaceful on the other side. Now I know better, to choose myself, to choose self-care.

I am grateful this post was published in the Holistic Lifestyle 2018 here and in Elephant Journal here!


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