our hardships are curing us


I believe the universe gives me the same lesson until I learn it. Until I listen to my gut. Until I’m willing to step outside my comfort zone and take the risk of doing something differently. It’s pretty uncomfortable. But that risk is the key to healing whatever my wounds, which are usually historical. The lessons I’m asked to learn are just that: the answer to my desperate prayers to get me out of my unhealthy behavior, thought, and emotional patterns.

I grew up with a fairytale dream of life, hearing the message that if there are no “problems” or “worries” or “trouble,” then everything is going “well;” if anything’s painful or upsetting or troubling, life’s “not going well” which means I’m probably doing something wrong. And I would beat myself up like hell believing that it was my fault things were “going wrong.” I was horrible to myself. I’m thinking specifically of my romantic relationships; if my boyfriend and I disagreed on something, then we were about to break up and we weren’t “meant to be.” I never considered that the energy dissonance was placed in my path to help me learn something; I never considered walking through the pain and meeting it head-on. So I constantly ran away. And the same things kept happening. I couldn’t handle the “downs” in life well. I took them so seriously, as if they were sentences to permanent and recurring misery and they had to inform my whole way of living while they were happening. I used to let a “snag” in my day ruin my day. Keyword: letI willingly took on so much pain, fear, and stress when I perceived the bumps in the road were “bad;” because I chose to look at them that way, that’s how I experienced them.

Recently listening to my inner voice in meditation, I found that my philosophy on life has been backwards. My pain, my trials, my issues, are the sign of healing, not signs that I’m taking steps backwards. Growth hurts; I remember being a little kid and feeling the body aches of my bones lengthening as I physically transformed into an adult. I heard this metaphor in an AA meeting once: When the body is injured, blood rushes to the wounded site to heal it. We experience that process as physical pain, though it actually means the body is healing. Think of recovery from surgery or a new piercing or a tattoo; it hurts. Emotional pain is also that sign that I’m healing. Growing. Finally changing. Spiritually, emotionally, psychologically.

In meditation, I heard an inner voice whisper that “the universe doesn’t test me; it teaches me,” which is a perspective I’d never considered and went against my idea that the rough and challenging “shit” in my life meant that the universe wasn’t loving, and that’s just the way life is and it’ll never change. Life doesn’t get easier in terms of “challenging” external circumstances becoming less frequent. Life continues to happen. The difference is how I choose to deal with it. I’ve read in the daily reflection book 24 Hours a Day that we can choose to wear life like a loose garment. If I don’t take things so seriously, they won’t feel so heavy. They’re natural. And that’s okay. As Albert Einstein said, “The most important decision we make is whether we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”

When I “stumble,” the things that I used to consider “mistakes” or “poor decisions” all end up teaching me something and are therefore growth opportunities, which are actually perfect because if I choose to heal the pain at its source, I get to learn something about myself and stop repeating my unhealthy patterns. Every incident in my life, every relationship in my life, every moment, is placed before me intentionally to help me reach my maximal growth opportunity, ultimately so I can be at peace with myself and those around me. So last year when I found out that the cute guy I was sort-of dating that I really liked that I had so much in common with and got along with so easily had a long-term live-in girlfriend, I didn’t have to wallow in my apartment for a weekend or not enjoy a concert we were both at because I couldn’t stop thinking about it and “how awful and disappointing it is.” Obsessively thinking about it never really worked miracles to solve things for me.

Since I’ve begun to internalize this perspective of a loving and healing universe, the “tough times” have been a lot easier to handle, and my ability to meet calamity with serenity has blossomed into a state of continuous ease and grace. I say this especially with regards to my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is an extreme and real example of how “life’s challenges” are actually the universe’s way of helping me become the person I want to be. My little prayers of “help me stop feeling this way” and “help me change” and “I really really don’t want to keep dating the same kind of guy and end up in the same fights with the same problems” all gets answered, but the change doesn’t get handed to me on a silver platter. The reward is that with every victory of walking through a fear, no matter how small the challenge, I come out the other side feeling more confident in myself. My self-esteem grows.

If I can get through the small stuff, I can get through bigger stuff. Life doesn’t have to just be bearable, it can be enjoyable. Blissful. Filled with miracles and opportunities and abundance (even financial) that I couldn’t have dreamed possible if I let the accumulated dirt of my past to continuously cloud the windows of my spirit. I now choose to let the light in, but first, I must clean away that dirt blocking it. The trials in life are just masked as curses of emotional upheaval, but I now look at them as blessings. They show me where I need to grow; finding and listening to that inner voice through meditation tells me how. Emotional and spiritual pain is the little sign that there’s a wound that needs healing. In leprosy, nerves are damaged and the patient can’t feel pain when injured, so the injury is left untreated and worsens. A small cut, left uncleaned and open to bacteria, festers and can turn gangrenous, infecting the body and even demanding amputation of the limb it’s on. Spiritual and emotional pain is a blessing this way; it shows me where healing needs to be done. And in my experience, spiritual, emotional, and psychological wounds I ignore or refuse to heal fester until I heal them.

Even taking a “wrong turn” or “messing up” is perfect because it I get to learn where I need to grow next. What’s uncomfortable, what doesn’t feel right? Try not to do it again next time. And if you do, just love yourself. Why not? At the end of the day, the relationship with myself is the only permanent one, so I hope it’s strong enough to navigate the certain storms ahead. Ultimately, the shift in energy from a perceptive that life is “difficult” to life is loving extends to those around me who are going through the difficulty with me, and that loving energy that I give nurtures me through the “rough spot.” The energy I give is reflected onto me by my surroundings. Marianne Williamson recently expressed beautifully in her lecture that “This world is not difficult; it’s different. What’s difficult is getting over our resistance to doing [the work that the universe is asking us to do].”

So fare forth with dignity, acceptance, non-judgment, and grace in any area of your life begging your attention because those areas want you to heal. Instead of judging that the “problems” are there, ask them what they can do to help you grow, what do they want you to learn? Embrace them; don’t bury them. The universe gives us the same lessons until we’re ready to learn them. Smooth seas never make a skilled sailor.

Disclaimer Charlotte Grey does not claim any professional training in social work or psychiatry. The suggestions listed on this page and on this website are meant to inspire supplemental treatment options for self-help. It is recommended that professional treatment be combined with any solutions discussed herein for suspected or known psychological or psychiatric malady, and that the content of this website not be used as substitute for professional treatment.

writing © Charlotte Grey Writings

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