So often, after betrayal, we rage against the unfairness of it all. It was HIS mistake, we wail, but I’M paying the price.
True that…and no amount of screaming at the universe is going to change it–though go ahead and scream; it can feel good in the short term. Sometimes horrible things happen to people who don’t deserve it: car accidents, disease, madmen with guns. It IS unfair…but it’s also life.
What if, however, we completely altered the paradigm of our pain? What if, and I realize this is radical, we recognized this pain as the chance for growth–to recreate a self that’s stronger, wiser, less eager to please others, more eager to please ourselves?
Sue Monk Kidd, bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees, writes often about spiritual transformation. I’ve written before about her book, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, here and here.
She says this in When the Heart Waits:
“She didn’t understand that there was a journey to be made here. A waiting, a gestating, a slow and uncertain birthing. That is where [grace] was to be found. Not in the erasing of the experience, but in the embracing of it.”
A cocoon is no escape…it just takes time….
But we have to be patient. We have to let go and tap our creative stillness. Most of all, we have to trust that our scarred hearts really do have wings.
Perhaps it is just with hindsight that I can consider her suggestion that we look at pain not for what it has taken from us, but for what it can give us. Perhaps that would have seemed crazy when I was in the heart of my pain. But perhaps not. Perhaps it would have allowed the blackness of my days to crack open a tiny bit, to allow the tiniest bit of light in to illuminate the possibility that from pain comes growth. My daughter, after all, is experiencing growing pains as we moves toward her teens. We certainly experience pain when we’re birthing a baby.
What Kidd suggests is that we create a cocoon, something I did almost instinctively after D-Day. I cut off the world and retreated into that which nourished and protected me. My kids, my mother, one special friend. And then…waiting. And that’s where so many of us wonder if our pain will be interminable. We wait. And we wait. And we wait. And it seems as if nothing is happening.
Waiting, Kidd reminds us, isn’t passive. Indeed the word “passive”, she points out, comes from the same root as “passionate”, meaning “to endure.” Few of us would argue that we’re not “enduring.” That we can believe.
Waiting is thus both passive and passionate… It involves listening to disinherited voices within, facing the wounded holes of the soul, the denied and undiscovered, the places one lives falsely.
It can be there, in that cocoon, that we can metamorphose into something with wings.