Last week I sat with a good friend and read her Tarot cards. One of the cards she pulled was really tough.
So many people are afraid of The Devil card, or the Death card… just not fully understanding the message that comes with them… the transition that Death brings, the empowerment that comes from The Devil.
My friend didn’t pull either of those cards, she pulled the 3 of Swords.
Translated, this is the pain card. Heartache, loss, stress… discomfort.
3 Swords piercing a heart in the Rider Waite Tarot deck, and in her reading, 3 Swords piercing a swan (The Shadowscapes Tarot).
This card is tough.
Finding the relevance, I told her about the book I’ve been reading, The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. The chapter I read just before meeting her last week was titled “pain, the price of freedom”.
As I read, I realized the accuracy of the author’s words. So many of us are walking around with deep rooted pain. We have buried it in our hearts over decades of our life. We try to forget that it happened, and then when an old pain gets triggered, we have no idea where the hurt came from, and we do all we can to bury it again.
I sat with the words I read. I was tempted to go hunting for my old pain. I was pretty close… but realized the pain would eventually find me. I too am guilty of trying to bury it deep. I thought I may not recognize it. I played ideas over in my head, trying to see where my pain was. There are some old painful memories in my mind that no matter what else is going on, will take me back to that feeling. In a matter of minutes the pain began to bubble up.
I did something different and sat with it this time.
I wrote down on a piece of paper – the only way around this pain, is through it.
When I was talking about the 3 of Swords with my friend I could feel her discomfort. She knew what the card meant. She understood the relevance. At one point she commented on how sad the card was, the swan with the swords piercing it. It was a hard image for her to try to get out of her mind.
Instinctively, I flipped the card over so we didn’t have to look at it.
She stopped me.
“It’s okay” she said.
The only way around the pain is through it.
Eventually, we all must learn to look at our pain, to embrace it. The reason behind that is because the place the pain is settling in is where our healing begins. When we hide behind our pain we build walls. We walk around putting up limitations to protect ourselves from anything that might disturb us, that might agitate the pain. We become distant, we hide, we’re no longer authentic. What we need to consider is that the pain is a prompt, a call to look past, to go deeper. Our pain is an old belief that isn’t true, and on the other side of pain is relief.
I hold an old belief… and I’m in the process of shedding it… that says I’m not loveable. It says that people will hurt me, that I’m too needy, too clingy, and that in time they’ll (family, friend, lover) be sick of me and need to leave. It says that I’m not all that special.
It’s also not true.
But it has been the building block for a massive wall in my life, and it is what I have begun to look at, the pain that I’m moving through.
Years ago, one of my spiritual teachers looked me dead in the eyes and told me… “you need more pain.”
I got silently defensive, thinking, he has no idea what I’ve been through… how much more pain can I take??
What he meant was, the pain would change me into who I wanted to be, bring me clarity, help me learn and then eventually lead others through the same.
He was right.
What is actually happening is that old pains surface up in current experiences. Sometimes it’s almost comical as I look around my life and think ‘haven’t I been here before?’
Pain is a teacher. And if we don’t understand and pass our lessons, then we have to retake them. The most valuable life lessons come when we are brave enough to sit and look at those 3 swords.
When we stop protecting all of our past hurts, when we pull them up to the light, we realize that on the other side of them is everything we ever wanted.
That’s where freedom sets in.
That’s where we’re going.
Through to the other side of pain.