About seven years ago, I went to a lecture at the Shambhala Meditation Center in NYC. The speaker that night was talking about pain and how we have to let darkness in. 

I remember thinking, “Hold up. HOLD UP! Suffering is not good. What is this guy talking about? We don’t choose to suffer. We choose NOT to suffer.” 

I was not ready to understand the sacred nature of sorrow. I was not ready to enter a cave of despair. I was not ready to conceive that pain could be fruitful. 

I was not into the idea of dark. 

No dark. 

No thank you.🙅🏼‍♀️

When I was in college my Dad sent me an article about how caretakers of Alzheimer’s patients need to learn how to accept and normalize the strange behaviors of the Alzheimers family member. The article went on to highlight how a positive mindset is the best way to deal with a difficult circumstance. 

Sounds a lot like what many spiritual teachers preach, right? 

But, is this really a good idea?

Without much thought, I internalized this call to positivity and spent the next seven years of my mothers decline trying to spin gold out of everything. I convinced everyone (and myself!) that I was fine. We were fine! 

One night, my Mom ate a bar of soap and her face literally blew up.  We spent a harrowing night in the emergency room trying to make sense of why she couldn’t swallow. 😔

But, yes, everything is fine!  😃

Everything is great! Just move through it, finding the blessings!  What’s the use in crying over spilled milk? ! 

But, I truth was that I wasn’t fine. I was so NOT FINE. 😣

Fast forward fifteen years and I thought I was “winning life”. I had moved through my mothers mental decline and eventual death, without making contact with my deeper feelings. I had a great job, a boyfriend, a healthy body and lifestyle.  What I didn’t realize was that there was an entire city of canals, where my grief traversed, hidden under the surface of my smiling face.

Normalizing and/or  hiding tragedy, grief and trauma does not make the darkness go away, it just moves the darkness to a hidden place within you where it changes who you are…in insidious ways. 

Avoiding suffering made me very controlling. 

Avoiding suffering made me a perfectionist. 

Avoiding suffering made me argumentative. 

Avoiding suffering made it impossible for me to have true intimacy.

Avoiding suffering made me a martyr. 

Avoiding suffering made me a know-it-all.

It wasn’t until about six years ago, when I began to do the personal work to heal that I realized I was rejecting parts of myself and I lived with the false notion that it was always beneficial to stay in the light. 

The lecture at the Shambhala Center finally made sense! 💡

☯️Having gratitude for suffering means we accept it. As is. ☯️

I now know that when we repress our emotions it is actually more depleting and destructive than if we surrender to them. 

There is wisdom and medicine in mourning. 😢

If we are crying in our bedroom and feel gloomy, this is something to be grateful for.  When we grieve we are responding appropriately to the natural rhythms of life, which include loss and death.  

It is okay to feel. It is okay to be broken-hearted. 

I now can also see clearly that we contort and distort ourselves to AVOID suffering and life doesn’t actually need to be that complicated.  

I believe the true gifts of our unobstructed Self emerge when we deepen our relationship to our own feelings and let it all hang out, as it comes!

This is liberation.  


As I see it,



Photo by Alycia Fung from Pexels


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