Pushed by Pain, the Soul's Calling

A client, let’s call her Mary, once told me that her pain was a 2x4 length of lumber that hit her over the head to get her to live the life she came here to live and let go of the life that was scripted for her.

In a simple image, she summed up the work we had been doing. In this understanding, the pain is acting as a calling. A calling that she wasn’t listening to. A calling that she had heard for years but refused to acknowledge. My client had done everything right. She was a brilliant business woman, a devoted mother, a loving daughter, and a dedicated wife. She had the perfect life. She was rich, smart, glamorous, and kind. She drove an expensive car, wore designer clothes, and had big beautiful houses scattered across the globe.

Except she was surviving with fourth stage cancer and an addiction to benzos that she developed due to the medication prescribed to her by her doctors for the pain. The more the cancer grew, the more pain she felt, the more benzos she needed to get through the day. Every day she woke up to play her role as the sacrificial woman; living for what she was told to be; how and who she was told to be.

Scars mean you fought. Wrinkles mean you lived. Heartache means you loved.

― Matshona Dhliwayo
Her family had a long tradition of educated and powerful women, something they were all so proud of. She new she was supposed to be a doctor, lawyer, or something like that from an early age. She was raised to be a mother and wife but no one ever stopped to ask, “What do you want?” She had been quietly asking that question for years in dark moments of desperation that no one saw but she never stopped to actually answer the question. She knew the answer but it was too difficult to actually hear it. Hearing it would, “cost too much”, she would whisper to herself.

She learned that not hearing it and denying it was costing her her life.

The darkness of the storm determines the brightness of the rainbow.

― Matshona Dhliwayo
Her deep dark passion was the arts. Art was respected in her home and even acquired as a status symbol but being an artist...well, she might as well just jump off a bridge and kill herself. They were lowly scum who were tortured and lived in desperation always starving, always lonely, always sad. They produced beautiful things but the artists themselves were nothing to be admired. Besides the commodity wasn’t the artist, it was the work they created. Her father once said, “What beautiful treasures created by such lowly and nasty people.” And, in her self-abuse, she vehemently agreed.

At fifty years old, Mary had found herself in that same desperate place as the artists she was taught to revere and despise. She was lonely, desperate, starving for some sort of happiness, not even hoping for Joy
(she thought Joy wasn’t allowed to her), and tortured.

Stars are born out of dark moments.

― Matshona Dhliwayo
Mary wanted to be an artist. She wanted to dance, to write, to philosophize, to sing, to paint. She wanted to be an auteur of the art world, the author of a creative life. She told herself that it just wasn’t to be and that she should just be happy but no matter how hard she tried she just couldn’t. She could barely smile. The drugs helped her put off the pain. In a whisper, she confessed that the cancer was painful but her heart hurt far more than anything else. She was strong. She knew how to fight. She took over a global company after all. She needed the drugs not for the cancer but for that deeper pain of a life unfulfilled.

Mary’s highest Self, the Self she was meant to be, the person who came here to be an artist, her unconscious maybe was using the pain to push her so hard that she was going to finally decide to live her truth or it was going to kill her.

God will only push you off a cliff if He's going to give you wings to fly.

― Matshona Dhliwayo
Mary had a choice, to live an authentic life that’s true to herself, even when it doesn’t look possible and all the evidence of the world appears to be against her, or die living out a story that was never hers. Thankfully she chose herself!

Mary made the choice sitting in the chair across from me to walk away from her perfect life. As her whole body shook with fear, Mary declared that she was going to finally listen to her dream. Her heart was beating like she was running a marathon and in a real way, she was. She walked away from her company. She separated from her husband. She set clear boundaries with her children. Most importantly, she started to be creative. She danced in her chair when her body was too sick to stand up and as she did, she got stronger. She started to paint without caring how “good” it was because she figured she was, “going to die anyway” so she wouldn’t be around to hear the criticism. Even as she said that though, she was healing. People were hurt as their expectations of Mary were shattered but not one of them paid a higher price than what Mary had been paying.

The artist that had been buried long ago deep inside Mary was coming out.

Pursuing your dreams is the best way of insulating yourself from your nightmares.

―Matshona Dhliwayo
Mary needed to be pushed by her pain to finally choose herself. The time was now for her to live her authentic Self and to break away from the story that had been written for her. It took her pain to bring her to the edge of death for her to finally live the life that brought her Joy. The pain called Mary and the calling was in direct proportion to her denial.
She was pushed by the pain to finally allow her Soul’s calling.

Pushed by Pain, the Soul's Calling