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What's The Pain For?

I was trying to mentally "list" the losses I have had over the course of my adult life. Not for any macabre or victim-claiming exercise but to try to really connect with these losses. I think if our losses seem of the "ordinary" or even "expected" losses, we can lose sight of the trauma they leave within us.

When I was 24 my father died. I endured three miscarriages in a year in the early years of my marriage. And then of course, there is my marriage to an alcoholic. In some ways, I can say he ruined my life. Of course, from this marriage came my children that I love as any mother loves her children so the "ruined my life" is a dangerously sweeping statement. But the truth is, he destroyed what I envisioned for my life, our life, my children's lives. We are a broken family. There is no way around that and he wielded the hammer that broke us.

But even through life can be harsh and life is not "fair," life is balanced. There isn't just pain. There isn't just disappointment. There isn't just loss and grief and regret. There is joy. There is happiness. There is love and fulfillment and wonderment and beauty and potential. The problem (challenge) is the pain and loss and grief and regret will just land right on your doorway, no effort on your part required. But the other stuff. The joy and the happiness and the love and the fulfillment and the wonderment and all that glorious potential - that's on us. We need to court and cultivate and create that. And so if you don't find a way - some way, any way, later or sooner, it doesn't matter - then what is the pain for? You'll live a sad, unbalanced life.

I hate - hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, HATE!! that I married an alcoholic. Nothing about this marriage, this life, this home, this family dynamic is anything I EVER even feared would be my fate. But it is. And either I stay hating it or I mine it for the gold that is in all losses, heartaches and setbacks.

I don't believe we come here with a defined purpose. But I do believe we come here with some innate, "defined" gifts. And if we use those gifts, in response to the losses and grief and suffering we encounter, we will create a purpose - the purpose - for our lives.

Writing is my gift. But my idea that I had to write "profound" pieces for this blog kept me from writing at all. I know the loneliness. The wretched, wretched loneliness and the overwhelming sense of destitute that living with an alcoholic husband creates in a woman. I wanted to speak to that, answer that, calm that for you. I wanted to make it go away. But I can't make it go away. Not for you, not for myself. That's like thinking you can help someone who is drowning by emptying the ocean.

Writing is my gift. But my idea that I had to write "profound" pieces for this blog kept me from writing at all. I know the loneliness. The wretched, wretched loneliness and the overwhelming sense of destitute that living with an alcoholic husband creates in a woman. I wanted to speak to that, answer that, calm that for you. I wanted to make it go away. But I can't make it go away. Not for you, not for myself. That's like thinking you can help someone who is drowning by emptying the ocean.

I can't empty this ocean. But I can throw you some life preservers. Maybe help teach you to swim. And so what I will offer you today is this: start considering who you are outside the role of wife of an alcoholic. Who are you as the individual human who came here to live an adventure. Not who you are as your alcoholic husband's wife. Not who you are as an angry, hurt, overwhelmed wife, mother, woman. But who are You. As a human being. As the unique human being you came here to be.

I remember for years there wasn't a single thought in my head that didn't revolve around the fact that my husband was an alcoholic. I don't say that isn't justified. But practice seeing yourself as someone else. Someone more. Even if it's just for the first ten minutes in the morning, before you face world. Maybe your first thought will be "I don't know who I am." That's fair enough. But don't stop searching. Don't stop asking. Don't stop giving yourself the opportunity to learn the answer.

Because here's the thing: if you don't use the pain to drive you to living a life beyond the pain...if you don't learn to respond to the pain proactively rather than re-actively...if you don't make the pain part of your story - rather than YOUR story - than what is the pain for?

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