On Bearing Witness to Our Own Suffering

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The past four days have been the most emotionally-exhausting and challenging I have experienced in a very long time. I have had to confront the pain and suffering my actions have caused others, especially my partner. And more importantly, I have had to dig deep to find that place of compassion and love for myself that is necessary to not have this turn into bitterness and self-fulfilling failure, but rather as the bold and powerful next step to finally dealing with my own self-destructive behavior.

I deal with an addiction that has, each day, robbed my spirit of its dignity and driven me to do things for which I am ashamed. It would be easy to punish myself, engaging in Catholic self-flagellation for my sins. … And I do. … Yet, there is also something to be said about allowing my heart to break open further to the world, to let in the ways in which all human beings do things that cause themselves and others suffering.

We are hard-wired to draw back from suffering, be it our own or others. It is something that our biology had developed over the years to protect us from physical danger, but which has since also numbed us to the day-to-day pain and hurt that go on in and around us.

To win back our dignity as human beings, … to have any hope of rising above those seemingly insurmountable challenges that rob us of our own light, … we must learn to bear witness to the suffering of ourselves and others.

Through the love and support of my partner, family and friends, I finally see a different place to begin to safely bear witness. That place is my commitment and intention to have the love for myself and others be greater than the addiction. Each time I am confronted, it is choosing the love for my self and others above those patterns of behavior that stand in my own way.

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