The central forces that are driving our addictions and compulsions are fear and pain. When we feel pain, we do anything to feel less pain. We want at least a short moment of relief, a moment of forgetfulness. Anyone would. Out of this pain springs the fear of experiencing additional pain, which can also be the sheer boredom of life lived in shame and feelings of worthlessness. We wish to be assured that we have at least some worth, that we are good and lovable. We may do anything to avoid being treated unlovingly: we may try to please people, we may try to control their behavior, or we may reject them. Whatever we choose, our pain does not diminish. If we please people, we give a central part of ourselves away, and we become alienated from other people and ourselves. The same happens if we try to control them - we try to force them to please us. Rejection is the ultimate realization of isolation. We repeat what we have learned without finding belonging and rest in being ourselves. Our efforts to get rid of our pain only increase our pain, fears and isolation.
When our mind is obsessed, we are unaware of ourselves and what happens inside us. We do not distinguish between our observations, our interpretations, our memories, our expectations and our feelings. Our thoughts are a mess. We see life as a series of painful events, and we think that controlling the events and obtaining the correct outcomes would set us in peace. It would not. We are in turmoil internally, and nothing outside of us can remove our disorder and give us peace. On the other hand, when we reach inner peace, nothing outside of us can set us in confusion.
Our minds dwell in past events, regretting and pitying us, or in future events, anticipating moments of terror or moments of joy. We think that if we could change our history, or other persons, everything would be okay. We think that if we could change our behavior, everything would be okay. We think that if we could control the future, everything would be okay. In thinking so, we think in terms of external issues, unable to distinguish our inner world from the world outside. We may even think that we have no inner world of our own, apart from our shameful secrets and pain, and apart from the expectations and opinions of other people. Who am I? For us, this is a difficult question. We were not allowed to be ourselves, and we repeated our lesson, all the time slowly and painfully becoming more distant to ourselves. We did our best to deal with our life and to continue living in a world that gradually became more distant to us, in a world in which we eventually did not belong.
We desperately wish to fix everything, including ourselves. We worry about the history, about the future, about other people, and about ourselves. We think that the more we worry, the better the outcome will be. We do so without being able to find permanent solutions, and keeping life running with temporary solutions exhausts us. At times, even the temporary solutions fail, and we become more dishonest as time passes. We become alienated from people we wish to be close to. We do not belong. We are alone and isolated.
Our false self can not belong. The purpose of our false self is to prevent our wounded inner child, our true self, from becoming more wounded. The purpose of our false self is not to belong. Only our true self can belong. The false self is a protector, a wall between our inner self and the world that rejected our authentic self. Our false self is the reason for our loneliness. Nobody knows what we really are - not even we. This is ultimate loneliness, and it is our normal state of being. When we begin to heal, we will understand how lonely we really were. Anyone would yearn for even a temporary relief from such an existence. We are isolated behind our masks, whose purpose is to isolate our wounded child within from the painful world we live in.
In order to belong, we have to do something frightening: we have to detach. We have to learn to gradually suppress the efforts of our false self to belong. It knows only how to separate, how to pretend, and how to wear masks. It can not belong, and trying to force it to belong would only increase our isolation. In order for our false self to belong, we adjusted our behavior according to the expectations of other people. Or we did it the other way around, controlling others and forcing them to be what we wanted (actually, to do what we wanted, but we did not see the difference). We became like amoebas without clear boundaries. We did not become free persons who had their own egos. Our belonging was false 'belonging' to a dysfunctional system that did not allow us to belong as ourselves. We looked at other people in order to find out who we were, and we defined ourselves through the behavior of other people. By now, we think that what we are is dictated by the thoughts of other people. In order to 'belong', we try to please them or to control them. We have set ourselves to be the victims of their behavior. If there were no other people, who would we be? Would we have anything we could call our own? When we detach, we will find ourselves as distinct persons who have their freedom to live as themselves, and at rest.
This is one of the paradoxes of healing: in order to belong, we have to become separated. We do this by detaching. We try to separate our internal messages from issues of life and from other people. It means that we handle our feelings and memories as one issue, and the events or people as another issue. Eventually we will admit that what we have done, has been done, and we can do nothing to change it. Feelings and memories remain. We realize that people do, think and feel exactly as they do, and we can do nothing about it. Our feelings, memories and dreams remain. We realize that the future will unfold in a way we can not control, but our feelings, expectations and dreams remain. In doing all this, we will learn to know where we end and where the world begins. We will find our boundaries, and we fill find ourselves.
We do it slowly, as we process our internal messages. We can not take away our protective sunglasses at once, and even if we could, it would not be safe to do so. We would die of pain. At first, I was aware of only a small amount of pain. Gradually I recognized how much pain I have been carrying around. It is good that it emerged slowly. As the pain emerged and was released, I felt a new kind of joy and freedom. After a while, when I had noticed how I was healed, and how the sense of belonging emerged, I was delighted to find additional pain and to let go of it. Certainly, it was painful, but after each painful experience, I felt new joy and freedom. The joy and freedom were different from addictive relief: they remained. It was not merely a moment of relief. It was healing.
The central message of detaching is that nothing outside of us can heal us. We may expect people to say or do something to us, or an event to occur. They will not heal us. They may help us, but unless we change, we will still be hiding from the world. We are used to do anything in order to belong and to be accepted, but only our authentic self can belong. We will find ourselves by detaching.
In order to detach, we need to be able to trust that everything will turn out good. We need to be able to trust that if we do not try to control events, they will turn out better than with our manipulation. We need to be able to trust that the outcomes of past events will unfold in ways superior to those we can imagine. We need the ability to trust that the future will be good, and then stop worrying about it. Our Higher Power will take care of all of them, and of us. He wants us to remain at rest while we heal. He does not need our efforts, and other people do not need them, especially if they arise from our fears or pains.
Detaching from Past Events
I had made a mistake. Actually, I had made several small mistakes that piled on top of each other. I was scary. As I tried to solve them, and to find my way out, I was in panic. I tried to do a few things, but the situation only became worse, and finally I could not bear it. I collapsed. I thought I could not live anymore.
Some time after this, I began to heal. Yet I was worried about what had happened, and my thoughts ran in circles of pain and despair. Slowly I began to understand that what has happened, has happened. What other people think or say about it, is not my issue. It belongs to them. Whatever they do, and however they feel, are their issues. I have to leave them alone. My problem is that I do not feel good. I have to change - my past and other people remain the same. However, to let go of the past events and other people was scary.
Nothing in our past is so corrupted that it can not contain good elements. My mistakes launched my healing, and healing of many other people. I have become strong, and I am not afraid of the opinions of others. Instead, I respect my life and everything I went through. I learned to live with more peaceful pace. Gradually I got courage to take away all masks and stop pretending. I began to belong in a deep way. I found new joy and freedom in myself. Still some difficult situations remain, but they keep me concentrated on myself. I do not try to change anyone else or anything else. My issue is my healing, and my pain is my issue. Nobody else can heal me. My pain goes away as I heal. In writing this, I feel great joy for being me.
When I had set up my website and written the first version of this book, I noticed that I was living a large part of my life in the web. Whenever something happened or I understood something new, I thought of writing about it. My site had become too important part of my life. I decided to detach, and closed my site for a month. I felt great liberation, and I was able to enjoy the joy and freedom of the spring. During that time, I learned that the right thing for me to do is to continue working with my site and with this book. It was a good time of rest, and now I have come back as a different person. My site is a source of joy to me, and so is this book. My detaching only strengthened my wish to live the way I was living. I learned that the world keeps humming with or without my site, and I found my peaceful participation in it.
Regretting the past is a trap we all fall into. It leads nowhere. Letting go of the past leads us to an awful understanding: the past has happened and it can not be changed. Our memories remain, and our feelings remain. If painful feelings are associated with the memories, we face our feelings. We face ourselves, and not the events. When we think of the past, we try to concentrate on ourselves, using words "I feel …", "I remember …", and "This memory makes me feel …". Our Higher Power will take care of our past and of our future, and we can concentrate on ourselves. We do not regret. We do not plan. The past is already at rest, but we are not. Now it is the time to find our rest, and we find it by grieving our losses. Grieving is working through our feelings, and not the events. In grieving there is no hope. Grieving is letting go, permanently. If we have lost someone, he has gone. He might return some way, but what he does is not our issue. Our issue is our loss, our sorrow, our fear of facing life alone, and our loneliness.
Our childhood is history. The painful events are history. There is nothing we can do to change them. Our memories and our feelings are with us today. Our resentments, our sense of failure, our self-pity, our anger and our bitterness are with us today. Why? What do we gain with them? Why do we not dare to let go of them? Because they keep our eyes outside of ourselves. We do not dare to detach from them, since then we would be alone with our feelings. We may not know how to handle our feelings. We will never learn if we look at outside events or other people.
It is not necessary to be free of pain to enter cosmic consciousness. We can still bear childhood wounds or other wounds, and as they are being prepared for healing, their pains surface. Yet there is a remarkable difference compared to pain of a compulsive mind: we know where the pain comes from. At least after a while, we know that an old wound is getting ready to be grieved and healed. We are at rest. We know that it is our internal issue, and nothing outside of ourselves can solve it. We are humble and respecting in front of our wound. We already anticipate the future joy. Pain will not set us in panic or in despair. It just is, and we accept it. The pain is real, but the peace is also real. In this state, our pain does not prevent us from belonging, but it is a part of our belonging. We belong to the world as ourselves, as healing addicts. We are ourselves, and we find peace in our belonging, while dealing with our internal pain that does not sit between ourselves and the world.
Detaching from Other People
Probably the greatest amount of our anxiety is the fear of other people rejecting us. In despair, we try to invent solutions that would keep them with us. We do anything: we pretend, we manipulate, we try to control, or we try to shame them. Out of our anxiety, we invent only poor solutions. If we pretend, they may not leave us physically, but they will never see our true self. We can not rest or relax as ourselves. If we manipulate or try to control, we do not allow others to be themselves, and we are not our true selves either. If we shame them, they might do anything to avoid our rejection, especially if we are important to them. They pretend, and they will not see our true self. Talk about rejection! This is rejection doubled, where nobody can be true, and nobody can belong. Only physical closeness remains, but it is exactly what we were used to be satisfied with. We did anything in order to stay close to mama and papa, or other important people. We remained physically close, but emotionally and mentally isolated. For us, this was belonging.
Pretending will not heal us. It will not heal them. It does not let us belong, but it leads us and other people to isolation. I had made mistakes, and I had exactly the same concept of belonging. I tried to invent solutions, at the same time trying to be true to myself, but every solution led to pretending, further isolation and additional mistakes. I was afraid of being rejected. Finally, I was rejected. It set me in peace, since I understood that there is nothing I can do to change it. People do whatever they want to do, and I have no right to try to change or control it. Their attitudes towards me are their attitudes, and if they are not based on healing love, it is their problem, and not mine. They have to find their own healing, and as long as I pretend, I prevent them from seeing the reality and facing the consequences of their behavior. As long as I pretend, I avoid facing the reality, and I will not find my true self and my belonging.
Other people are a safe target to direct our fears and resentments to, since it helps us to avoid dealing with our own issues. However, they will continue living without us. They do not need our pretending. They do not need our false self. We do. At times, they seem to need our false self to obtain their goals, but if their goals spring from their wounds, they don't need to achieve their goals. If they are unable to love, if they are dishonest or shaming, they need healing and not the achievement of their goals. If we pretend and let them use us, they might get their goals, and we might get their 'love', but nobody would be happy, and nobody would belong.
If, and when, we let go of other people and find peace, good solutions emerge naturally. We are at rest, and they will see our rest. They will see our true self. If they have caused us sorrow, we have no need to prevent them from seeing it. We can be sad, without pretending, as long as we feel sadness. Our purpose is not to use our sadness as a manipulative tool, but to be real to ourselves and to other people. We are sad, and that is why we are sad. They do whatever they do, and if they decide to come to us, true belonging emerges. If they don't, true belonging emerges for us. We are real, and we have our place in the universe and among other people.
Our purpose is to become healed. We can be healed only in truth, without pretending. We can heal only ourselves, and nobody else can heal us. We can heal nobody else, unless he himself wants to heal. People might offer temporary solutions that would make our life easier for a while, but they do not heal us. As long as the relationship contains elements of shaming, controlling, pleasing or manipulation, it is not a healing one. The best we can do is to detach, and try to be our true self without pretending.
We may think that other people hold the key to our happiness or to our healing. We may wait for a certain behavior, certain words, or certain actions. We may think that if they really loved us, they would help us out of our misery. Even if they did, it would only make our life a little bit easier, but it would not heal us. If they love us with healing love, they let us face our misery ourselves, since it is the only way to heal. They can not grieve our losses, or cry our pains. They can not let go of our need to pretend. Only we can, but they can support us and be with us. At times, we may wait for them to forgive, or to seek our forgiveness. They will do so if, and when, they are ready. Then it will be based on truth and belonging. If we try to manipulate them to forgive, we are back in pretending and isolation. Our purpose is to become healed in such a way that we are ready to forgive. Whether or not they seek our forgiveness is completely their own issue. When we are ready to forgive, we have already forgiven, and the issue is at rest on our side. We become ready to forgive by healing ourselves in spite of what other people are doing or not doing.
Detaching from Unsafe People
When my healing began, there were few people who did not want to let me be myself - the miserable, painful, anxious and recovering addict that I was. I certainly was not fun to be with. They were shaming and they requested me to be joyous and smiling, and to forget all stupid childhood stuff. I let them go. They made me feel so bad that I decided not to meet them for a while. It turned out to be a long while. One of them has returned, respecting my new self. Our relationship is not a healing one for her, at least not yet, but anyway we are friends, and the friendship is not based on pretending or codependent clinging. There is freedom and the elements of healing love are present - unlike before. I am ready to welcome the remaining three, but they avoid me, since they know that now I deal with issues in truth and honesty, and I can see their shame in front of me. I am ready to forgive and to heal, but they have issues they don't want to see in themselves - or some other reasons. I do not want to guess. People do whatever they do, and for whatever reasons they happen to have. Our guesses will be wrong, anyway. We do not assume or define other people. They define themselves through their words and actions.
Our issue is to heal ourselves. We are responsible for creating an environment that is safe and where we don't have to pretend. If we start pretending, or defending ourselves, we lose our track. We don't have to detach permanently. There was a time in my healing when I did not want to meet anybody. I bought three adventure games and spent two weeks reading, feeling bad, crying my pain, writing and gaming. It was complete detaching from pleasing people. When someone called and said he would like to meet me, I said NO. When my wife asked me to clean the floor, I said NO. I began to own my power to take care of myself and not to please people - including my wife. She understood what I did, and she respected it. It was a very good two weeks - and really important to me. Yet, I do not recommend it, since everyone has to find his own path. I clean the floors now, too.
As we begin to heal and experience the joy of life, we would naturally like to help other people to heal. For me, this was a tough issue to deal with. I was still greatly codependent, and I wanted to do 'good' to other people. For almost two years, I wanted to push other people towards healing. I was very difficult to let go of some people who I loved. When I finally could detach, I felt great freedom and joy. Now I know that the only way to love them is to set them free. As long as I try to push them to healing, I repeat the same dysfunctional message that I have given myself for a long time: you are not good enough. Only when we let go of all controlling and demanding, they can feel that we truly accept them as themselves.
Detaching from the Future
The future is not ours to create. We can plan our actions, but we can not plan their consequences. We can not - or actually we can - plan the actions of other people. However, we can not make them happen. If we plan their moves, our planning is not only wasted effort, but it prevents us from taking responsibility for ourselves. It leaves us to guess their motives, and we will not guess them. We let other people define themselves. Their motives are unknown to us until they tell them. The future is not ours. Present is. The best way to be prepared for the future is to take good care of ourselves at present - to heal ourselves at present. Then we will be ready for the future, whatever it is. For us, it will be the best possible lesson in loving ourselves and other people.
If we are worried about the future, it is usually because we anticipate that our needs might not be met, but we think of those needs as events. What are the needs behind the events? We should try to identify the needs, and not the ways in which they should be fulfilled. When we become aware of the needs, we will see that there are many ways in which to fulfill them - or that we may wish to let go of some of them, especially if they are based on pretending, pleasing people, controlling them or solving their problems.
We want to meet the future as our authentic selves, in truth and without pretending. We want to belong, and we can belong only when truth and healing love are present in us. When they are, the future will be good. The future is ready for us, and we are ready for the future.
I have learned to trust the timing of my Higher Power perfectly. When I refused to try to make things happen, and to try to make people behave in ways I thought would be good, the future turned out to be far better than I had imagined. Had I tried to make things happen, I would not have been ready in the situations I would have created by myself. When my Higher Power gives the events of life to me, I can be sure I am prepared, and the events have a good purpose - not only for me, but for others as well. Had I acted too soon, I would have missed the other side of the coin, and people would not have received the gifts that my Higher Power had reserved for them. Our Higher Power does not procrastinate. He gives us as soon as we can handle, and he gives us as much as we can handle. He loves us, and he is preparing us to love ourselves and others. Sometimes it takes a while. For me, it took more than twenty years in pain and shame. Yet, I would not want to change the smallest bit of my life. Now I am in the beginning of a life I have been looking forward since adolescence, and I know I have been prepared for it. I am ready. It was a long and winding road, but it was a manifestation of love.
My poems are in chronological order. If you read them, you will notice how they first deal with the events of life and other people. Then they gradually begin to deal with my internal issues. When much healing has been done, they again begin to deal with external issues, but now the target is different. They spring from the desire to love, and to leave other people free. This book is my Poem of Love, and in writing it I am my authentic self without hiding behind masks. I write because I respect you, and because I respect myself. I lived my life in my way, and it was good.
The eyes of Love mirror suffering, but they twinkle with faith and hope.
Out of Pain