Grateful Heart Monday

Thank you for checking out my Grateful Heart Monday series today, where the only focus of my writing is on gratitude, which for today is for something I never thought I’d be grateful for, that being all the physical pain I’ve endured for the past ten years.

Sounds crazy right? How can I actually be grateful for the very thing that’s brought about so much sadness and suffering to my life over the past decade. It’s quite simple really and all it took was taking a hard pause to remember how insane my life was prior to 2010, before the onset of it all.

You see, prior to 2010, I was mostly self-absorbed, selfish, self-centered, and focused on pleasing my own needs, wants, and desires before anyone else’s. On the outside, my actions tended to show this, which anyone who got close to me usually saw in a relatively short period of time. While deep down I did have a good heart, sadly, it was constantly covered over by addiction, fear, and plenty of walls I threw up to protect it. Essentially, I lived in self-preservation mode on a consistent basis because of all the pain I endured from my childhood.

When my adulthood began with my first year out of college in 1995, the same year I got sober, quit drugs, gave up smoking, and came out of the closet to my family, I had plenty of existing mental and emotional pain staring at me now in my face from all that childhood baggage. Baggage from growing up in an alcoholic family, from constantly getting bulled, and from being molested as well. Life after that became a whirlwind of seeking one pleasure after another for the next fifteen years to avoid dealing with any of it and to keep people away from my heart. I covered it up even more after the tragic deaths of both of my parents. While there were a few moments here and there where I actually allowed people to connect to my heart and where I briefly placed myself second to others, overall, I never allowed it to last and I rarely kept myself humbled. If anything, I lived the exact opposite more than not.

But, pain of any kind usually has a way of achieving the impossible, especially when it comes to physical pain, and especially when one doesn’t take any medications to cover it up like I didn’t. As each year passed with me enduring greater and greater levels of physical pain without relief, something slowly began to shift within me, a softening of sorts, or maybe a lessening of all those walls I had thrown up around my heart. Basically, as my pain levels grew, the greater my desire rose to release all that baggage that could be adding to it. And the more I worked through it, the more my heart opened. And the more my heart opened, the more my level of compassion for others did as well. Until eventually, I started to realize I was caring more for others than ever before, specifically those going through their own bouts of pain and suffering.

The fact is, my whole world has positively been affected today because of all the physical pain I’ve gone through. On some level, I really am a better person because of it. It’s kind of insane though to think I needed to go through so much physical pain to change me into a person who’s more selfless, kind, caring, compassionate, and truly concerned for those going through their own painful struggles. The reality was that my heart was buried below walls of resentments, anger, and fear and nothing was breaking through it, nothing that is until I spent the better part of a decade of my life enduring one physical pain after another that slowly eroded each of all those walls around my heart and removed all that baggage that had kept me from becoming a much better person.

While I may not like how long I’ve had to go through it all, I can see now why I had to go through it, because the heart I have today is one that would have never emerged without it, which is why today’s Grateful Heart Monday is dedicated to my physical pain and all the good it’s brought me overall…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson