Let me set the stage for this post. My younger brother murdered his wonderful wife many years ago, and then killed himself. I have never missed him, but I still miss her.
A cousin, a man I did not know beyond his early childhood, also committed a gruesome murder. For a long time I felt tarnished due to being associated with these people. The figure in Melissa’s drawing speaks for how I viewed myself, damaged goods, vulnerable to fear.
If there is any reward in this experience it is that I have made a prolonged study of pain and darkness. We have lots of both in our nation, and we resist learning about it. That resistance concerns me because things are getting worse, and people are becoming more skilled in being resistant. Perhaps you have noticed.
Our biggest error in regard to pain is that we inflict it on other living creatures, and we do it with a display of self-righteousness. The second largest failure is that we attempt to deny that we have our own pain. The third failure is that we shrug off good advice from people such as Joseph Campbell, Thomas Moore, James Hillman, Robert Bly, and Michael Meade. They collectively are a spiritual pot of gold.
I have some professional experience helping executives drive pain out of their organizations. There is approximately zero interest in doing that. They say, “Pain? What pain?” They view pain as evidence of the weakness of others. It’s not. It arises from how we treat each other.
As Thomas Moore tells us, we have a strong desire to present ourselves as pure and wholesome. That is not what life on this planet is about. We are wounded creatures living in denial. I have investigated this in considerable detail because I am far past a state of denial. I don’t hide my pain. I show it off, as I am doing in this post.
One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and others is to honor pain. It is not a sin, nor is it a failure. It exists because of the way we treat ourselves and others. I think it is our highest priority, but that may be because I’m in the thick of it myself.