The Recovering Man Learns To Love “Feeling The Burn”

If God sends you a mosquito, SWAT IT or He will send you a swarm.

One of the terms we used to use for getting our dope was “scratching the itch.” Today, I see how this was so spot on to how I lived my life in that constant state of reaction to the outside world. I also see how easily I can slip back into that way of thinking if I don’t practice certain principles DAILY.

I gotta tell ya, I’ve been feeling a lot of pain lately and it’s all been self inflicted. 

Through the grace of God it’s been quite a while since I’ve had the desire to pick up but, I learned a long time ago that that’s only a small piece of the way my mind can fuck me. By nature, I have been gifted with a high tolerance to pain and like most things, my gift can also be my cross to bear. The gift comes when I’m able to sit with it. The cross comes when I choose to ignore it.

I think the word pain gets a bad rap from most of us who have a high tolerance for it…especially emotional pain.

We, men seem to define it as if it starts at the point where we can no longer tolerate it rather than the point where it actually originates. In my opinion, this is because of the way we are conditioned in modern western culture. As young boys, we were taught to suck it up and take care of business or rub some dirt on it.  So we take it in and stuff it into our sacks and keep moving. It’s not until the sack gets overfilled and ruptures that we see it as real pain.

My favorite mentor is the late, great Dr. Wayne Dyer. In his talk of The 3 Stages of Spiritual Awakening which can be read on the Heal Your Life website, he describes how we can move from that place where we have to hit rock bottom before we wake up, to a place where we can use our thoughts for the divine purpose they were intended.

The crazy thing is, most of us do it all the time in the shallow end (the physical realm) but as we move toward the deeper waters of the mental, emotional, and spiritual parts of us we seem to abandon the wisdom already taught to us. I’m not sure why that is, but I hallucinate it’s because we spend so much of our time in the shallow end that we’re disconnected from the rest of that vast ocean that makes us the awesome Self we are.

In the physical world we can recognize pain in a slight itch from a mosquito bite. First we recognize it after the fact and relieve it with a scratch. Next time we see the mosquito on us and swat it in real time because we know the pain that will come. Finally we’re able to anticipate that pain with our thoughts and apply some repellent so the little bastard won’t even land on us.

We don’t stop going out into the woods because that’s our nature.

We learned from it, dealt with it, and moved on. By giving the small pain our attention we’re able to continue being that wild man that Robert Bly speaks of in his book, Iron John.

It works the same way with emotional pain. Most times it shows up as a small itch but we’ve been trained to ignore it because that’s what big strong men do. We become so adept at ignoring it that we’re no longer able to even recognize it until we’re at the point of being eaten alive. Then we say, “Wow, that fucking hurts, I don’t want any more of that.”

The pain is so great at that point that we decide the risk is no longer worth the reward. We decide to tame the wild man and become some mundane version of ourselves. We even convince ourselves that mediocrity is our destiny as long as it doesn’t involve revisiting that excruciating shitstorm that we allowed to fester within us.

While doing some inner work, one of my brothers offered grace as a path to awakening and I wholeheartedly agree. I also believe that as a man in this human body, pain has been a necessary catalyst to my discovering grace. What wasn’t necessary were the many times I allowed it to get so intense that I no longer wanted to embrace it as the gift that it is (like just the other day).

There are many ways we can use mindfulness practices to develop our inner eyes and inner ears so we can tune into our emotional pain long before it flips us on our heads. It all begins with shutting out the noise in our daily lives and rekindling that relationship with our own hearts. If you’re hung up on how to do that, find a local teacher to help you with it. Here in South Florida I know a cool cat named Bodhi Ross Campbell who shoots straight from the heart at The Bodhi Spot in Stuart, Fl. and I’m sure God has placed one near you, too.

I’m talking meditation and prayer, baby!

Then when you’re ready to rock and take some action toward becoming the man you were destined to be, I’d be honored to serve you as your partner and guide.

Only by the grace of God  am I no longer the man I used to be. Nor am I the man I’m destined to become. May I learn to recognize and embrace the pain from a small itch a little better each day so that my growth may continue with a few less speedbumps.