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BY MARIA GARRIDO - 2 MINUTE READ
Despite our massive discomfort with it, pain is a necessary part of our lives and a gift to our soul.
No one likes to suffer, no one welcomes a bad breakup, a betrayal of trust or other tragedies with open arms. Yet, there isn’t an adult on this planet that will not experience some sad or painful event in their lifetime. When these terrible moments descend upon us, our bodies and brains have automated biological responses to manage the stress involved.
FROM FIGHT TO FREEZE
Most of us are familiar with the fight or flight responses to highly stressful situations. However, since most of us aren’t running from a hungry lion, today, we’ve recognized other forms of trauma response: fawning and freezing. Fawning is turning to people pleasing mode to distract yourself from feeling anything at all. Freezing, it turns out, is my go-to response to extreme trauma.
In 2013, my perfect Paris life came crashing down when I discovered that my partner had been unfaithful for the entirety of our marriage. This wasn’t a classic betrayal situation; it involved multiple women- sometimes simultaneously- all over the world and lots of sadistic behavior.
I froze; my nervous system shut down and my body went into shock. I wasn’t present in my own body anymore; I couldn’t speak and I didn’t eat. I was so physically ill that I threw up constantly, losing 8 kg in a month. I remember waking in the night, having 0.5 seconds of relief, the time it took for me to realize it had not just been a horrible nightmare. And then, as the rush of pain hit me in the dark, wailing so hard, it felt as if the very walls of my house were feeling the aftershocks of my shattered heart.
We can’t really predict how we’ll respond to trauma and there is no rule that says we’ll repeat the same behavioral response in different stressful situations. What I do know now after years of processing, is that pain is a necessary part of life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. In fact, feeling this kind of pain is probably one of the best things that ever happened to me.
PAIN WITH PURPOSE
The road to recovery and healing has been fraught with detours, delays and plenty of sliding back. I’m not sure the journey will ever be complete. But today, I accept and understand that this pain was a gift. It was the Universe’s way of telling me it was time to grow, time to stop living in the shadow of someone else and step into my own light. The pain had a very clear and positive purpose in my life; it came to show me how to become a better version of myself.
Today I walk strong and steady in my own path, regardless of where it leads. I’m so much more fearless because I know that as long as I know my own truth, I can overcome anything. I know that experiences of both happiness and pain define me.
I walk with the wisdom that pain, despite all the negative emotions it brings, will always be a gift. And I wouldn’t trade this roller coaster ride for anything.
SELF CARE TIP
Practice unlearning negative behavioral responses to pain. Sit quietly and breathe calmly. When you feel more at peace and in a safe space, recall a moment in your life where you felt pain. As the discomfort arrives, don’t fight how your body and mind react; it is your natural way of responding and surviving a traumatic event. Show yourself grace and compassion. Try to find the message in the mess. ❤️
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