"So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
As I sit with clients in their pain and joys, and live my own story, the tension of holding the happy and the sad together begins to take on a new form. Many of us are scared of feeling things like sadness, anger, or pain for fear that it means we will never experience joy, relief, love or healing. Perhaps we have learned along the way that these feelings are “bad,” or maybe we are terrified that they will take us over, envelop us and leave us with nothing.
But what if it is in the holding of two “opposing” feelings that we experience something truly authentic and healing? What if the journey towards healing includes tending to the pain and celebrating the joy? One experience does not cancel out the other, but yet they exist together. How can this be? How is it possible to feel both happiness and sadness, joy and pain, freedom and restriction? And yet every day, the human experience tells the story of the moments of joy mixed with pain—I wonder if it is resistance to this tension that causes an inauthentic experience of self and a disconnection from others.
I wonder what would happen if we were to embrace this tension? To feel fully, without self-judgment. I wonder if the joy would feel more poignant, or the pain more manageable. I wonder if we might stop resisting places in ourselves that we fear will rob us of our joys, and learn that they can live together. I wonder if in this place, our joys, hopes and passions might begin to heal our pain, despair and hopelessness. What if these parts of ourselves, in this glorious and messy tension, might actually be designed to work together…to heal one another.