Listening Is Often The Only Thing Needed To Help A Person Going Through Prolonged Pain And Suffering…

Why is it that when we are going through great pain and suffering and choose to confide that in someone, that they often feel the need to give advice, provide guidance, and offer suggestions, instead of just listening?

Having gone through intense bouts of pain and suffering for years now, I’ve been on the receiving end of countless pieces of unsolicited advice, guidance, and suggestions. Regrettably, up until recently, I did the same with most who confided their trials and tribulations with me, always believing I was doing the right thing, that is until I realized not too long ago, due to how long I’ve personally been in pain and suffering, that people who share their sorrows and burdens in life with another are really only looking for one thing, an ear to listen. Yet, for whatever the reason, many of them tend to do the exact opposite of listening. The following is a top 10 list of the things that I, and plenty of others have experienced when sharing our pain and suffering with another, each of which has often made it worse for us than better…

  1. Telling the sufferer that there are people out there going through greater pain and suffering than we are.
  2. Telling the sufferer that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional (especially when they aren’t suffering in the same way, not suffering at all at the present time, or never suffered in the way we have).
  3. Telling the sufferer that some doctor, practitioner, healing modality, medicine, guru, guide, healer, class, book, etc. will help (especially when they don’t even know all that we’ve tried already). This often comes via a sentence that starts out with “Have you tried…”
  4. Telling the sufferer that maybe they’ve wronged God somehow and this is some sort of punishment, or that they haven’t done enough spiritual work yet to heal it, or haven’t prayed hard enough, or that their sin is preventing themselves from getting through it, or that their faith/beliefs need to be stronger.
  5. Telling the sufferer that it’s all in their mind and they just need more will power to overcome it.
  6. Telling the sufferer random clichés like “Everything happens for a reason!”, “Everything will be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end!”, or “Acceptance is the answer to all our problems today…”
  7. Telling the sufferer that things will be much better if they just get out and help another suffering individual (especially when the person may already be doing that or has limitations that prevent them from doing that).
  8. Telling the sufferer that maybe it’s their karma to work out and they just need to see it through.
  9. Telling the sufferer that they just need to not talk about it, get over it, and pretend it’s not there.
  10. Telling the sufferer, “You just have to keep the faith…”, that God has a reason and a plan for our pain and suffering that’s beyond our understanding, and that the other side of this will be better than anything we could ever imagine (especially when not knowing the person’s spiritual background, level of faith, or belief system).

I’m sure there is plenty more I could list here that have been quite challenging for each of us who’ve been on the receiving end of unsolicited advice, guidance, and suggestions after sharing our pain and suffering with another. The fact is, what we truly need the most is just a hand to hold, an ear to listen and a heart to understand us, as healing often begins to happen the moment we feel heard.

So, please remember this the next time someone opens their heart and shares a little of the pain and suffering their going through with you.

JUST LISTEN.

And…if you do anything else, show a token of affection such as a hug, an arm around them, or holding their hand. While this may feel uncomfortable to you, know it’s only your ego that really is feeling that way. Because offering your own guidance, advice, or suggestions to any of what they share with you, especially when unsolicited, is more to feed your own ego than to help ease any of the pain and suffering they are going through…

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

The Difficulty With A COVID-19 Socially Distanced Life…

I never thought 2020 was going to be the year it’s become thus far for all of us. Personally, when I began it, I had high hopes. My health seemed to be finally improving compared to previous years. My overall mood was vastly better on a day to day basis. I felt as if I was on the verge of ultimately achieving that which I set out to do a decade ago, that being to heal from within from a large amount of toxicity and spiritual imbalance. And then came COVID-19 and our socially distanced life.

At first, I maintained an air of positivity surrounding it all. I kept my volunteer work going, doing my best to keep up my part in helping others, even as all the uncertainty grew. But after things began totally shutting down, and the fear rapidly increasing, I started struggling with greater negativity brewing within me, especially after I no longer could attend recovery meetings in person and do my 12 Step volunteer commitments.

Somewhere along the way through all of that, my pain levels then started going up exponentially as well, leaving me in a mental state that I haven’t seen for years. What’s difficult for me now is all the unknowingness surrounding how long this is going to last. How long will we be avoiding being close to each other? How long will people not give hugs to each other? How long will we socially distance ourselves and our lives from each other?

Honestly, it feels as if I’ve spent most of my life being socially distanced from others already. My childhood was filled with vast numbers of people who kept their social distance from me because I wasn’t cool to them. Most of my early adulthood was socially distant from others as well, because I allowed my addictions to push everyone away from getting close to me. But, when I finally found 12 Step recovery, I did a lot of work to erase my socially distant life. I learned how to get out of myself and help others, to connect to other’s hearts, to offer hugs for comfort, and compassion through touch and speech. COVID-19 has changed all that now and left me feeling what I felt for the majority of my life all over again, that being socially distant from the world, something that had mostly gone away since living a very active 12 Step recovery life. That’s why I’m feeling so lost right now and lonely as heck, even with me being in a committed relationship.

The fact is, getting out of myself for the past eight years and helping one suffering human being after another in person has been the best thing that could ever happen to me. Not only did it change my overall perception of the world, it also changed my overall perception of myself, from one of negativity to one of positivity. But now, with the possibility of this virus having long-lasting socially distant ramifications for years to come, it feels as if much of that has reversed itself within me. I regularly wonder now when life will return to the normalcy I built for myself over the past bunch of years in my 12 Step recovery and I question my sanity quite a bit these days, sometimes even sadly wishing I could leave this COVID-19 world behind, than remain a part of it. While chronic physical pain alone has had a way of doing that already to me over the last decade, I’ve fought hard to overcome it by getting out of myself and growing close to others and their hearts in the process.

Although I continue my daily prayers and meditations, and keep up what 12 Step recovery work I can still do, I’m struggling with great difficulty with a COVID-19 socially distanced life and simply wanted to get honest about that with the rest of the world through my writing today.

The bottom line, well, I REALLY just miss being close to others. I REALLY miss being hugged and giving hugs. And I REALLY miss living in the world where I finally learned how to connect with others in a way where I didn’t feel so dam alone like I do so greatly now in this COVID-19 reality…

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

An Existential Crisis Of Faith…

There have been so many times over the last few years where I’ve found myself questioning whether God even exists. With the amount of pain and suffering I’ve had for over ten years now with little to no relief and countless unanswered prayers surrounding it’s plaguing persistence, I’ve been having this existential crisis of faith more than not these days.

While faith has been the very thing that’s kept me going thus far, it’s also led me to having this daily philosophical debate with myself surrounding the existence of God. Chronic pain and suffering of any sort seem to have a way of doing this. And for people of faith, when things aren’t going their way, that often seems to become the case, especially when chronic pain and suffering get involved. Everyone knows how easy it is to follow God and praise God when life is going their way. But when life falls apart, and remains fallen apart for a good chunk of time, it’s becomes just as easy for one to lose their faith and belief in God.

I’m sure many on this planet are currently going through their own crises of faith in light of this ongoing pandemic that has taken so many souls already from this planet. The loss of a loved one, specifically when it’s taken abruptly, truly can make one question whether God exists. I went through that very thing after my father took his life, as well as when my mother had her tragic drunken fall down the stairs. After both of their deaths, I went through a number of years wondering whether God was just something people made up. But, I never fully stopped believing in God, even when I doubted in God greatly back then, and somehow that faith kept me going through it all. Somehow that faith kept me supported through all the pain and suffering I faced surrounding my parent’s deaths. I can absolutely attest that if I hadn’t had my faith during those periods after their deaths, I would have turned to hard core addictions and probably taken my life like they did.

That being said, I’ve kept my faith in God over the past decade, even as so many years passed one by one with such great pain and suffering. But that’s not to say that all this chronic pain and suffering hasn’t corrupted my mind, because it has, especially as this pandemic has left me at home more than not to sit in my pain and suffering, with relatively nothing to keep my brain occupied from it. That’s a really dangerous place for an addict of my nature to be in and I’ve had to fight off many urges of wanting to give into carnal desires to numb myself and some to even take my life.

There have been a number of individuals in recent years who’ve asked me what I’m going to do if this pain and suffering never goes away. I try to not go there in my brain because the only thing that has kept me going after all this time is my faith in God that it IS going to get better one day. But, for the sake of argument, what IF it does never go away and what if I do give up my faith in the process. What’s happens then?

A life of becoming heavily medicated to deal with it all?

A life of negativity and anger that comes from resentment towards my life and God?

A life of turning back to addictions to numb myself and cope?

Or a life not worth living at all just like my mom and dad felt and chose?

I honestly can’t see anything positive coming out of giving up my faith in God because it’s this faith that has provided me the ONE thing that a life without faith can’t provide throughout all this pain and suffering, and that’s HOPE.

Hope in that all my pain and suffering isn’t the end of this life’s story.

Hope in that there’s a greater purpose for all this pain and suffering that’s beyond my understanding.

Hope in that everything does happen for a reason, even if I may never know what those reasons are.

And hope in that a brighter day will come for me.

My father and mother both gave up their faith and lost any hope of living because of it. That’s why I must keep my faith because I don’t want my life to end like either of theirs did.

But, will my faith in God ever lead to anything better than all this pain and suffering I continue to face in my mind and body, I don’t know, yet I choose to keep my faith anyway. Because at its very core, keeping that type of faith is the truest definition of faith itself, one that continues to believe, even when it feels like there’s no real reason to believe anymore…

Peace, love, light, joy,
Andrew Artur Dawson