It may not surprise you to hear that I’m asked this a lot. Whenever anyone asks me, “is my path one of pain?” I know there’s a lot going on in their lives. The short answer is no, your path is not one of pain, but it’s far more complicated than that.
Pain is Our Teacher
Although no one’s path is a path of pain, that doesn’t mean that life is without pain. What it means is that the pain is necessary because it helps us grow. The key is to learn to deal with it and find the lessons, rather than getting caught in that dark, painful place.
The Universe teaches us through pain because it makes us listen. When things are great, we’re not seeking to grow or change anything about our lives. So when growth is needed to get us the next phase, pain is necessary.
Think of it like this, when you’re out walking and your shoes are comfortable, you move quickly and maybe miss out on the beautiful surroundings. But if you get a rock in your shoe, you stop to take it out. And in that pause, that slowing down, you notice a beautiful rare flower. Pain in your life is the same way. It makes you stop and notice things.
Pain is a Test
Just as the Universe wants us to learn lessons to help us continue moving along our journey, it also tests us to see if we’re ready. Some people call these tests the “dark night of the soul.” And many people think there’s only one because it often precedes a big awakening.
The truth is that we may face many “dark nights.” Usually the first one is the worst, in part because we have no idea that’s what’s going on. But anyone who’s continually invested in spiritual growth will face more than one dark night.
I know that sounds kind of awful, but there’s a reason for it. Those “dark nights” are a test. The Universe piles on pain point after pain point to check our readiness for the next level. It sounds a little crazy, but the next time you’re feeling like everything is falling apart consider that it might be a test and try being excited for the next phase of your development.
My Recent Dark Night
Yes, you read that right, I have them too. And I will until I pass on. As long as we’re inhabiting human bodies, we’re supposed to be growing and learning. So, there will always be tests.
My most recent test spanned nearly a year and it wasn’t until it climaxed a couple of weeks ago that I really figured out what was happening. Let me lay it all out for you. I have a feeling you’ve been through similar things.
It all started in December when my grandma died. Actually, maybe a few months before because she did not go easily. (I get my stubbornness from her.) There were months of phone calls from my mom and at least one instance of me dropping everything to drive down to help Mom take care of Grandma. I’m not so great with medical stuff, so this was not easy.
When she passed in December, it was both sad and a relief. And at 99, she’d lived an amazing life. Little did I know at the time what was to come next. In fact, it got so intense, I’ve lost track of the chronology a bit.
At some point, my Mom was told she had a growing node in her lung which had to be removed because the location (near her heart) made it impossible to biopsy. Well that’s pretty terrifying on its own. Then add in the family drama and being commanded to come to Boston for her surgery (even though I never got to see her) – let’s just say it wasn’t peaceful. Thankfully, my soul sister came with me for that “adventure!”
Shortly after this, I got a call from my dad. He starts off with “well, I’m alive and I’ll live.” Turns out, he’d been in a bike accident and broke his C1 and C2 vertebrae. Truly, it’s a miracle he’s not paralyzed, but it’s been very touch and go. He’s still in a wheelchair and has to have those two vertebrae fused to his skull, meaning he’ll never be able to turn his head side to side again.
So far, most of this, with the exception of my grandma dying, was somewhat peripheral. It was still stressful and upsetting, but didn’t overly impact me day to day other than calling for updates and being yelled at by my step-mom for not coming to visit (never mind that it’s a 3 hour round-trip drive and Dad wouldn’t be up for more than a 20 minute visit!)
But since this was also a test, it had to get tougher. And it did. First, a bat came in my bedroom two nights in a row. I like bats OUTSIDE, but I’m terrified of them in the house. This one being in the house kicked off a many-week-long anxiety state plus expensive vet visits and some scary research about if I needed the vaccine or not (I didn’t – thank the gods!)
While I’m still recovering from that, my boyfriend of nearly three months pulled a Jekyll and Hide routine and basically made me feel like somehow all this drama and stress was my fault rather than being supportive. He also took back any commitment he’d made a week prior. Needless to say, we broke up. A few days later, he claimed to have an epiphany so I gave him another chance, which turned out to be a mistake.
Not long after I gave the boy another chance, I got a call that my 101-year-old grandfather fell. It turned out that his femur was broken and because of a heart condition they couldn’t operate. Also, due to the nature of the break they couldn’t set it in a cast. This all meant that he’d be on morphine for pain management and probably didn’t have much longer.
A few days later, he had a stroke in his sleep and quietly died about 18 hours later with my mom by his side. I’d actually fallen asleep and woke up knowing he was gone moments before I got the call. He understood me in ways no one else in the family ever has. It was, and is, a big loss.
And to cap things off, the day after he passed, I got the Jekyll and Hide routine again and we broke up for the last time.
First up, the bat. They’re all about big transformations, overcoming fear, and can be traumatic. I did a lot of healing and releasing because of that.
Honestly, I think the bat was signaling the changes that have come since my grandpa’s funeral. I’ve started reconnecting with my Jewish roots, I’m welcoming parts of my family into my life that had only been peripheral before, and I’m making efforts to connect more with people who have similar life missions so we can support each other.
I learned that I need to look for support in a community. Yes, I have an amazing tribe of friends, but that’s not the same as a community. I learned that I need to embrace parts of my life that I’d been rejecting in order to be fully “walking the walk.” And I learned that people with similar life missions struggle with the same things I do.
How I Feel Now
I went from a place of feeling like I was barely holding my life together to feeling in control again. I feel like the light has once again taken over the shadows and that my path forward is clear.
The point here isn’t to whine and complain about all the drama I had going on. The point is to help you see how your pain is either a test, a lesson, or both. Your pain will not last forever, any more than mine did. There’s also no defined time frame. But the quicker you learn the lesson, the short the pain will be. I invite you to share your story. And if you’re not sure what the lesson might be, try taking the Confusion to Clarity Quiz for guidance.