“Very often, healing is achieved through the act of expressing pain.” -Rokelle Lerner
Last weekend my best friend dragged me to a wedding. I say that she dragged me because when she first told me that she was coming into town, she wanted to know if I was available to go out for some free food and drinks. Thinking that the free food and drinks plus spending time with my BFF was an offer I could not refuse, I said yes. A few hours after she asked me if I wanted to go out, I get a text from her saying,
And oh by the way, did I mention that we are going to a wedding?
I chuckled. Leave it to my BFF to leave out this important info. Now, I was actually going to have to do my hair and find something nice to wear. No problem. Besides, I hardly ever get to spend time with my best friend. I also like getting myself all prettied up. But there was one thing I could not deny:
I am not a big fan of weddings.
I usually get very sad at weddings. Now if I am working/playing the flute at a wedding, I am okay because I’m focused on my performance and doing a good job. But being a part of the celebration is tough. Why in the world would I experience sad feelings at such a joyous occasion such as a wedding? I will be vulnerable and tell you the reason why. Despite the internal work I have done and the satisfaction I have with being with myself, I still have an ache in my heart; an unfulfilled dream of finding a special guy to share my life with.
There are times that I put this pain on a shelf, only taking it down to talk about it with God, or my closest companions. But weddings have a tendency to force that pain off the shelf.
I went anyway. The wedding was lovely. The bride was beautiful, the couple very much in love. Dinner was delicious. Spending time with my BFF was a blast. I was okay.
Until the third glass of wine.
There is something about alcohol that either makes you way too happy, or sends you in the opposite direction. In my case, and on this evening, it sent me toward the unhappy direction. I could no longer hold in my sadness. I withdrew to a world inside of my head where I was the bride and my special guy stared lovingly into my eyes as we danced the night away. In the midst of all that wedding happiness and chatter, I felt so alone. So I disappeared to a bathroom stall and wept.
I felt so ashamed. Not only was I breaking one of the Ten Commandments by coveting, but I was crying in the midst of a celebration. There, in the bathroom stall, that critical inner voice began to speak:
What the hell is wrong with you? You are so pathetic. This is ridiculous. This is a happy occasion and you have no reason to be sad. You are acting like a loser. You should have stayed home if you were going to be this way. You always have these emotional problems. This is why no one likes to hang out with you. This is why you are alone. Seriously, get over it.
After listening to my inner critic, I got myself together and emerged from the bathroom in a foul mood. I was completely disgusted with myself and what I was feeling. I isolated and sat in a corner. My best friend tried to get me to participate in more of the festivities and I refused. I wanted to leave as soon as possible.
Here is the question: Was my problem that I was just an emotional basket case because I was at a wedding? Or could it have been that my eventual foul mood and isolation resulted from me allowing my inner critic to bring me to shame?
Of course the wine had a lot to do with it. But for those of you who have been with me through this journey, you probably know the answer. I was so ashamed about the pain that was triggered at this wedding, that I did not and would not allow myself to just sit with the pain. It was trying not to feel the pain that caused my suffering. It was judging my pain that made it worse.
“It’s our attraction to being free of pain that causes suffering.” -Charlotte Kasl (from If the Buddha Dated)
I never stopped to think that maybe a single, 37 year old, never married woman may have a right to have sad feelings at a wedding. So what. I wasn’t breaking any laws and I didn’t make a scene; my feelings were my own. Perhaps if I had just let them be, the pain would have eventually passed, and the healing would have began.