For the last few weeks, it feels like life has been closing in on our family. I feel like I’m being suffocated as I struggle to process three very difficult life events we’re facing. My normally positive personality feels dim, and my biggest daily desire is to fall to pieces.
I finally came up with a word that I think best represents the last two months: Pain.
For the first part of my graduate wife journey I appeared to dodge pain like a championship dodgeball player. And, I was GREAT at it. I could do anything, I could handle anything, I was a machine; my motto was BRING IT ON. But, that was the outside Mandy. The inside Mandy looked nothing like that. The inside Mandy was running out of places to stuff thoughts, emotions, and things to think about at a later date, and as an internal processor, this was a dangerous place to be.
After living this way for a couple of years, I began to see the devastating effect my “Bring It On” motto had on my physical and emotional health. I decided to see a counselor. I spent that following year delving into my inner core, hating every minute of it. But, my desire to try to understand why I didn’t want to face suffering and why I avoided painful situations gave way to an intense emotional ideology that I’d been hiding behind and clinging to for a long, long time. As I began the process of unraveling it, I found it was ugly. And messy. And ridiculous. And horrible. And painful. Yet, when I’d walked through it, I felt something I had never felt in my entire life: freedom.
Freedom to be myself. Freedom to say I wasn’t fine, when I wasn’t. Freedom from my perfection. Freedom to accept the fact that life is not easy. Freedom to allow others to love me. Freedom from expectations. Freedom to understand what it means to receive and give grace. Freedom.
For this very self-sufficient-I-can-do-it-all woman, it was an amazing breakthrough in my adult life, and it has painted a very different picture for the second half of my graduate wife journey. Instead of sticking my head in the sand at the first sight of something I didn’t want to face, I bravely faced it. And it changed me.
As I stand before these current life events, I can honestly say I am reluctant to face any more character building lessons, or life lessons. I do not want to go through the pain the next few months holds for me, but I will. I am willing to walk this road, only because I know it will somehow change me for the better.
Without pain, life can never be lived to the fullest. You will never understand full joy. You will never understand rock bottom, or the highest peak. We need to walk through pain in our lives, so we can learn to make the most of each day, being open to whatever may come, feeling grateful for every moment.
I don’t know about you, but I want to live life to the fullest, in my graduate wife journey and beyond. I want to be the best wife, mother, friend, and employee I can be. I want to taste failures and successes, and love my friends and family with reckless abandon. I want to be vulnerable, authentic, and honest. I want to laugh in good times and weep in difficult times, and know that it’s okay to do both.
I found this quote a long time ago, and tucked it away for another time. I found it a few days ago, and it is exactly where I am today.
Don’t waste your pain. Pick yourself up and use it to help others. ~Anonymous
So, I ask you fellow Graduate Wives – what are you doing with your pain? Are you hiding from it, or bravely facing it? Are you willing to do what it takes to make it part of your story? And if you are, how will you use it to help others?
If I had not been willing to walk through my pain, this blog might have never been born.
Use the story God has penned for you to impact others. Move forward instead of staying under the duvet.
Don’t waste your pain.