What If The Pain Never Ends?

Lately, I've been coping with more pain than usual and trying in vain to find some relief.  I've noticed that by the early afternoon, I'm exhausted, tight lipped and short.  My only escape from it has been to sleep.  

My Dad, the original cynic, used to tell me that:

"Moniker, pain builds character, ... for more pain."

If I am left to interpret his prophetic statement, then I'll assume he means that it's a given, like paying taxes and breathing, it's part of life.  As pain continues to have it's way with my psyche, the fear burrows into my dreams. In middle of the night, last night, I recall sitting up and asking Austin in a panic..

What if the pain never ends? 

oh, my Dad would have a good laugh at that one, deeming it rhetorical, no doubt. This morning I considered canceling my appointment with my coach, Jessica, because I knew "pain" would end up being a topic, because, that's how we roll. 

I discovered that exploring pain is even more painful then the pain itself, but it's also productive in providing relief.

Some ground we covered: 


Being with pain: What is that like for me? 

  • Sometimes it feels too big for me to handle or hold.
  • It makes me feel powerless, trapped and imprisoned. 

What does this feeling of prison bring up for me?

  • It makes me think about my life and having come so far in terms of being free from some pretty heinous emotional pain, only to now be plagued with physical pain. WTF is THAT all about? 
  • Feeling like a pain free life is always somehow just out of reach for me.  (Just you Monica!  everyone else has a pain free life!)
  • Feeling like the self-compassion well is dried up, or like the last drop of self- compassion essential oil has been used up, it's essence, GONE. 

If pain had some geography what would it be? 

  • A Wall. 
  • I just come to a place where there is a wall of pain.
  • There's just me against the wall and I'm so tired of coming up against "the wall".

What else? 

  • The pain makes makes me ashamed, it makes me needy, and I fear being seen as if I'm somehow broken and useless.
  • That this pain is being "done to me" or perhaps I choose the pain in another life (lol- because that's the sick twisted thinking you can count on me for!).

What would pain be if it were something to practice being with? 

  • Patience. Oh how I hate you. 
  • Patience can be a useful practice when one is healing. 

What can "be" in the meantime? 

  • Rest
  • It's ok to rest when I can't do anything else. 
  • It's ok to be tired of the pain.
  • It's ok to be pissed off about it. 
  • It's ok to to be afraid.

Still in pain with no resolutions, and yet somehow, I'm feeling way better than I was. 

If You Can Feel It, You Can Heal It.

Sometimes there are no words to describe the beauty and wretchedness we bump against as we walk through our lives. 

The only thing that can convey such things that I know of are art, photography, poetry & music. 

When we’ve lost our access to creativity or enthusiasm, we usually can’t be moved much by any of the above. Usually this is an indicator that we have unprocessed pain or emotion.

People who are hurting don’t need Avoiders, Protectors, or Fixers. What we need are patient, loving witness. People to sit quietly and hold space for us. People to stand in helpful vigil to our pain.
— Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior

Recently, my brother called with something that was weighing heavy on him and that had been haunting him for years. He shared that he had been unable to listen to music or access his creativity for many months. He described feeling numb, a feeling we’ve known over the years. Numbing helped us survive when we were growing up. As adults however, numbing has stopped serving us and we’ve had to revisit and reveal the pain of our childhood in order to heal and release it.

When my brother and I seek each other out to talk, like- "hey, I really need to talk"  we don't skim the surface.  We usually dive deeply into what's happening in our lives.  We are both familiar with deep emotional work including therapy, but sometimes it takes time to get to all the layers. It’s amazing to think of how many times we’ve had to revisit a past trauma once again in order to heal another piece.

I feel blessed to have a couple of family members that can hang with me in places where the emotional abyss might normally send others running. My brother and I have learned that running never works, even though we still try from time to time ;)

The thing is, all of us have moments when we hit the wall.  When our hurts rise up from our past to lay us out.  Sometimes we need someone to help us out of the dark, or in this case, walk beside us when it's time to go in to take a good long look at what we are running from.

Healing emotional pain is not a linear experience. We heal on multiple levels at different times- spiritually, physically & mentally.  Even our dreams are working to help us heal or to deepen our understanding of something that occurs in our waking life. Emotion is energetic, so If we stop it from moving through, and don’t feel our feelings, the trapped emotion can create dis-ease.

The first thing my brother had to do was feel his own feelings. Each time he tried to intellectualize his pain, I reminded him to go back into his body- to describe the sensations, the memories, describe what was surfacing. As he visited each new layer of emotion, I simply held vigil. We went together, deep into the well of grief where everything feels black and hopeless. I knew that all I needed to do was listen and remind him that he wasn’t alone.

To allow someone to process their pain without fixing it, we commit the greatest act of love for another human. By mirroring his words back to him and witnessing his journey through the labyrinth he eventually found his way back out again. It was a profound gift for both of us.


The expression I've always loved; "No Mud, No Lotus", makes so much sense.

I don’t think we can have access to the true depth and profound gift of life without knowing the mess of it (the dirt).

The genius of this deep place inside ourselves, the place we bury our pain, is that it's fertile ground for greater possibilities if we dare reveal it. As we dig into the inner wound and shed light there, we transform our lived experience into something far more rewarding.  When we’ve buried pain, we've usually also buried our vitality and creativity so when we get the opportunity to process it, it's like popping the cork out of the bottle-neck. The frothy bubbly essence of our true selves comes teeming back to life and we are reconnected to our source.

Usually after processing emotion at a deep level, an exhaustion follows. The most compassionate thing we can do for
ourselves is to rest and sleep (another deeply healing practice).

After we finished,  I told him to wrap himself in a blanket and take himself to bed. 
Later in the evening after he woke, he sent me the piece of music I posted at the top of this page

It knew then that he was no longer needing to numb.

Good work my Brother. You are so Brave. I love you.

Do you have unprocessed pain or trauma that haunts you? I'd be honored to walk with you to the places that are causing you pain.  It may sound scary- but I promise it's not nearly as scary as you think.   Feel free to contact me to set up a time to learn more about Co-Active coaching.  If you've never heard of it, I'm happy to tell you more and how it can benefit you at any stage of your precious life. 

I'd like to dedicate this post to an incredibly talented coach & therapist Courtnay Meletta who helped me to process a deep childhood wound through her own practice using techniques that helped me to heal when all else had failed.  I learned so much from this experience and it gave me the courage to continue on my coaching journey so that I can help others do the same. I am forever grateful.

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Where the Sparkle Lives

While we all have a physical body it's difficult for many of us to forget that it's not who we are.

I think women in particular struggle to free themselves of their preoccupation or fixation on their bodies because our culture tends to condition us to focus on it.  I personally can't go anywhere without being bombarded by the images of the impossible ideal.  It's a subtle form of abuse that, over time can contribute to dwindling self-confidence.

The truth is that we are not our bodies. 

I believe our bodies are a vessel that contain the spirit and soul of who we are, and that the essence of who we are can be seen in moments of transparency, intimacy and vulnerability.

So how do we get to that non-physical part of ourselves or at least have access to it?  
How do we connect to our essence or sparkle where we feel connected and alive? 

The key is awareness, and while it may sound over-simplified, it actually takes great practice to notice when and where the disconnect takes place.  The Revelation Project coach is trained to focus in on the essence of our participants and to help her bring her presence and process to life. 

When working through each photo session we tend to ask our client "where did you go?" or "what's here now?" to bring awareness to the body.  We guide our clients to reveal the thought or circumstance that threatened her willingness to stay in the moment.

We all have a magical ability to disappear, but rarely know how or why we did it, or how to reconnect and reappear once we find ourselves triggered.

Paradoxically, the body actually holds that particular wisdom, and so by tuning in and practicing, we can backtrack to reveal the origin of the feeling that had us flee.  Our sensory system is designed to disconnect when it's fearful or threatened in some way, our bodies tend to literally curl around ourselves when we feel too vulnerable, less than, or unworthy, and when the sensation is too painful, we take it a step further by numbing out or disassociating. 

It takes great courage to stay in the moments that frighten us and be witnessed by another, and yet it's also ironically the direction we urge our clients to go in.  We urge them to allow their human-ness to break through the surface and into the breath so that it can dive back down into our vessel and bring connection in and through.

That's where the sparkle lives. 


Andrea Willets and Kim Fuller work with our participant after the REVELATION PROJECT/ REVEAL YOU portrait experience to deepen in the wisdom, reveal the insight, and process the emotion. http://www.therevelationproject.me