Episode 19: Gratitude: The Pain Has a Purpose
Asking questions to name the pain that is triggering us, leads to validation and letting go, and continuing forward in our healing.
Today, we're going to be talking about the pain and the gratitude that we end up finding, because of the pain that we went through. What I have found is that pain really does have a purpose. And I'm sure you've heard that before. But if you really look at it, not when you're in the pain. But after the fact when you look at it, you can see that there really was a purpose in everything that you went through. You can look at it as if when you are going through something hard, and some painful memories, some painful things come up; some past experiences that are troubling you that may have been triggered because of something that happened. And then all of a sudden, you're remembering a whole bunch of things.
And you're in this panic trauma state and you don't really know how to navigate through and you're thinking, How am I ever going to get through this. I can't even function. I can't even make it. There is no way this is ever going to end. And you're in this place of really utter despair and a feeling of I don't even know what my life is. Do you know what I'm talking about? Have you experienced those kinds of things where you honestly feel like you just don't know what to do? You do not know how to get yourself out of the cycle, the spin that just happens over and over and over again.
Most likely, you have been in situation like this. You felt it. You are just doing your thing, you're feeling a little down or a little bit lonely, and then all of a sudden, something happens. Whether it's a conversation with somebody that your relationship isn't super healthy, or you see something or there's an incident or a betrayal of some kind, something that causes a trigger response, a trauma response to where you your heart races, you start feeling stressed and nervous and anxiety. And that's where you're feeling that out of sorts, type of feeling. This is where we think all is lost, where we don't know how to find a way out where it feels so overwhelming, that we could just jump out of our skin.
I know this feeling. I felt that so many times in my life that I felt like I was going to go crazy, like I needed to escape my mind. So in those moments, we have choices to make. We feel like I can't handle this uncomfortable feeling because I don't know what it is. So we turn to whatever our vice is. Whether it's caffeine, or alcohol or drugs or food, or sleep, whatever it is that can get us from feeling so out of sorts to a little bit more peaceful feeling. We know it's not going to take it away, but in those moments we're a little bit stressed and we go for something that will at least curb the hold that it has on us so that it's not so intense. The other direction we can go is we can notice that okay, clearly something's going on with me.
There's something that's coming up for me, either something present that just happened or something from the past that I'm reminded of feeling this way and I don't want to feel this way again. So past beliefs or anxieties or stresses or triggers or trauma comes up for us. So as we're in this place, what can we do to start seeing it differently? I came across this list from the Gottman Institute. And it's talking about a list of examples or emotions or things we might be feeling when we're triggered. So it's kind of like the aftermath of when there's a fight or when trauma has hit us in some way. And the question is: What triggered m? And then it says I felt, and you have to fill in the word that of what you were feeling. Here's some of the words.
I felt unheard, excluded, ignored, uncared for, lonely, forgotten, unsafe, unloved, like that was unfair, frustrated, trapped, like I couldn't speak up, manipulated, controlled. That's some of them that are on this list. So when we're feeling that way, after something has happened, or when we're feeling something, these are some of the emotions may be that are coming up for us. And the reason is, is because we were reminded at that moment that we were, let's just say, uncared for. And then it attaches to times in the past that we've also felt that same way. A lot of times, it's around that same person that triggered us in the present moment. And we think about all the past times, that we felt that same way when dealing with this person.
Other times, it also will add on that I felt that same way with this person and this person, and in this experience, and in this incident. So we kind of gather them all up and now the trauma inside of us is building. It's getting bigger, and we're getting more overwhelmed, the more we think about it, and the more that is showing up for us. So here we are in this state of disarray. And we don't necessarily know how to think clearly, and we don't know where to go. But now, given new tools and new insight, we can start to learn how to manage when these painful triggers and traumas show up for us.
Instead of running to our vice every single time, we can start asking ourselves some questions. Or maybe at the beginning, we run to our vice, we feel a little bit more calm, and then we remember Oh, yeah, let's figure out why this came up for me. The reason this is so important is because we shame ourselves so badly when we go against a goal that we've set for ourselves, about maybe not using our vice. Let's say our vice is caffeine. Maybe we run to caffeine every time we want to feel better. And now we're trying to not do that. And when those things come up for us, we run to it anyway and then we're mad at ourselves, because we did.
And then we're shaming ourselves because oh my goodness, I cannot even keep my goal of caffeine, not having it. And so we start feeling even worse about ourselves. Here we are in all this trauma and triggers, we can't seem to get away from it, we can't learn from it. We don't know how to do it. We don't know how to manage our relationships, and we don't know how to take care of our feelings. And even after that, with all of that, I broke my own goal. And that's the hard part. Because really what's going on is so much deeper than that. And that the goal of staying off of caffeine is at the top, like my goal is over here. But how do I get there? How do I achieve my goal?
Well, I have to figure out why I run to it? Why I use it in those moments of panic. And that's way deeper, that's a lower level. So if I'm trying to master my goal, I have to look at why it keeps presenting itself in a way that makes me feel like I need it or can't live without it. So as we're feeling all these feelings, and we're thinking, why is this happening to me? Why does this keep happening over and over? This is a good time now now that we're aware of what we're doing. And what's happening. This is this is great, we can actually look at it now and go, okay. Obviously, I'm having some problems. I am not seeing in a way that is calm. I am very reactive and very stressed out. I'm very anxious.
So what is it that's going on? What's coming up for me? And we can start asking ourselves questions about how we're feeling. We can go through this list. I posted this list last Friday on my social media on Roxanne Kennedy-Granata. That's on Instagram and on cutting ties, which is Facebook. You can go look at it and read about it if you want to. But this list has these things. I felt, what what did you feel, I felt trapped. I felt like I couldn't speak up. I felt controlled. I felt disrespected. I felt blamed. You come up with what you're feeling. I am feeling this. And then look at what is coming up for me in those what are the experiences that have come up? Well, this happens every single time and every time I do this. This is what's happened.
Every time I try to speak my mind I'm blamed for something. If I try to live my life, then this happens. And then you start having these memories of when this same experience has happened to you; where you felt the same exact way. You can carry it back to a younger time period in your life. And you can see that this is something that's been happening either in this personal relationship or all around you where you have come up with this belief that you are uncared, disrespected. All those things, same list that we keep on talking about. So this pain is coming up to give us the chance to work on it, to look at it, to validate it to heal it, so that it no longer has a hold on us. So it no longer is keeping us drowning in fear and anxiety and stress.
As we look at it, and we see what it is, we can use it for our benefit. We can say, Okay, well, then this makes sense of why I keep going to caffeine. Or this makes sense of why I keep sleeping all day long. I don't want to deal with this, because I don't know how to deal with it. Asking yourself questions about what it is you're feeling, why are you feeling it, it takes the edge off, and the hold that the pain has on you. And you're looking at it from a different perspective. Instead of spinning in the emotion of it all you are kind of outside of the experience, looking at it as an observer and you're going okay, what happened in my younger years? What happened today? What's going on with me? What am I feeling?
Then you can be in a rational state. Then you can actually move through it and forward from it. If you choose not to move forward from it, and you keep stuffing it down; so the pain is coming up and you're like, No, no, no, no, no. And you keep pushing and pushing and pushing it down, and you're treading above water and you're almost drowning, you're trying not to drown, you go to the vice that makes you feel better. You calm down again, you're like, Okay, okay. I'm okay now. You are still just barely hanging on. Even though for a minute, the uncomfortable feeling is gone all the things that were coming up, are still there, and you're just pushing them down as fast as they're coming up and floating up to the top of the water, you're pushing back down, pushing them back down, and they're not going away.
So what's happening is, every time you have a new trauma response, you're adding to it. And it's not going anywhere. So your pain is getting worse and worse. Your anxiety is getting worse. You don't know why. I'm doing all this work, and I'm trying to heal. And I'm reading books, and I'm going to therapy, but I'm still drowning. But we've got to take care of what is under that water. We have to take care of what keeps coming up and floating to the surface that is hindering you. It's your body's way of saying, Hey, we need a little bit of help. Hey, your younger self back here is feeling a lot of pain and sadness because of this same experience that happened way long ago. So let's validate it and talk about it and search it out. And see. So we could just swim in these waters freely. So it feels good. And it doesn't feel stressful.
In addiction recovery, I've heard a lot of different times the difference between sobriety and recovery. There are a lot of people that are sober. But that doesn't mean they're living in recovery. That just means they're not acting out in whatever their addiction is. But that doesn't mean that there's not all this stuff that keeps floating up trying to get them and they're just white knuckling it to the highest degree and not acting out. But if the behaviors are still happening, if their actions are still showing that they're not fully embracing the freedom that recovery, and sobriety can bring them, then they're not using all the tools and they're stuffing down things and maybe using other types of vices to help them manage it.
Maybe it's gaming, maybe it's food, maybe it's vacations, maybe it's reading. It can be healthy things, but anything in an obsessive nature is used against you. This goes for the same for those of us who have tried to work through betrayal and trauma. We can look at other people and say, how come she can make it through? And how come she figured it out? And how come they are going through this like nothing's taking them down? That may or may not be true. But if they are only stuffing it down and acting as if everything is fine, if they're only going to live on the surface, and they're going to pretend that all as well; I've been there. I've pretended several times over the years. That all as well.
My family did not know at all what was going on in my life. Not at all. Not a single ounce did they know what was going on into my life. I was really good at playing the side of me that was healthy and happy. That was true. That was definitely part of me. That's the one I chose to lead with. That's the one I chose to portray. That's the one I chose to show to the world. The other part I kept secret to myself. Once I got into recovery and had recovery friends and groups and counseling, then I had people to share that with and then I learned how to not just white knuckle my healing and start doing the actual work to uncover the dark spaces that were beneath. Those dark spaces, that pain, that's where the freedom lies. That darkness is where our light shows up and illuminates everything around, that we are shocked that we need to work through.
There is positive messages in the pain because it shows us what is hurting us. It shows us how angry we are, how sad we are, how hurt we've been, how unloved we feel. Those are all real. And we may have a person in our life that tries to tell us that what we are feeling is not real, that we've made that up that our perspective is wrong. That's gaslighting, that is not true. Somebody else manipulating the way you see reality doesn't make what really happened to you any less true. You know how you feel. Those feelings are real. Working through them is what is going to give you the freedom owning them, validating them, assuring yourself that what's happening to you is because of something that you've gone through.
There's no blame in it. It doesn't mean that we have to blame somebody else or be mean to somebody else because of our experiences. A lot of times people in our lives don't even mean to do what they do. They're doing things with good intent a lot of times. But that doesn't mean that isn't taken in a way that's harmful to us or someone else. And that's okay. That's just truth. It also doesn't give that person permission that because they didn't mean to, or because they had a hard childhood, that you have to accept that kind of treatment. That's not what it means. Acknowledging that they might not have meant to doesn't mean their behavior was okay.
We don't have to accept abuse. We don't have to stay in relationships that are abusive. When we're being abused and we are rationalizing or justifying that person's behavior, then it harms us even further, as well as our families. We're telling ourselves that we are deserving of this. That's not how God works. God does not want us to be abused. He gives all of us, including those family members who had childhood issues, or traumas; he gives everybody the chance to become different and heal. We don't need to stay in a relationship that allows us to be abused, or our families to be abused. God gives each person the agency to become better, so that it doesn't perpetuate all of that.
If we are feeling traumatized, and we cannot heal from our wounds and the betrayal, we are also hindering ourselves and our families. God is placing tools in front of each one of us. He is showing us a way out. He is giving us the opportunity to become different and to learn, so that we can recover and that we can teach our children differently and we can heal our families and our relationships. We all have the opportunity to become something more. We all can progress. We all can be happy. We can all find happiness and joy. It's hard work. It takes us looking at all these painful things, seeing them clearly for what they are, naming them with the emotions that we've had, experiencing them, validating that those things did happen, and then asking ourselves what we need to heal those wounds so that they no longer hinder us.
This is where the gratitude starts coming in. Feeling the purpose of the pain is where we actually become different. This is where we look back and we can say, Wow, that was so hard. But look where I am now. My perspective is bigger. I understand more things. I see clear. I even can identify certain relationships that are good for me and that are not. Our education just goes through the roof when we work through all of our painful experiences. And so by doing that, we have a grateful heart. We can actually say, I'm glad. I'm grateful. I wouldn't change these things that have happened. You might not be there yet. But as you work through these painful things, and you learn, nobody wants to give up their learning. And we've talked about that before.
We've talked about learning to ride a bike and falling and then getting back up and doing it again. We don't want to unlearn riding a bike. We don't want to unlearn how to drive a car. It gives us freedom. That's what we're looking for. We're looking for freedom from the pain, which offers us new light new understanding new knowledge, new awareness, and an ability to develop ourselves in a way that makes us feel good. That makes us feel like, Okay, I am really liking myself right now. I really like where I've improved how I've grown. I love what I can see. So as you do that, the alternative to not having any of the pain would be to go backwards, close our eyes live on the surface again, and have no understanding or knowledge of any of this and pretend that all as well.
Can any of you actually do that, once you've learned something? Can you really say, I want to go back to when this never happened? And I will also have to lose everything I've gained? Most likely No. If you're saying yes, you are probably still in a really traumatic state. You probably need more individual counseling to help you get through the trauma. But you can. You absolutely can. I'm so grateful that I went through what I did. That doesn't mean I don't have to work on it. I have to work on it all the time. I have to re forgive my ex husband all the time. I have to pray about and say, Okay, what am I holding on to right now? What's going on with me that I'm not thinking clear over here in this area of my life?
Is there something that I need to forgive? It will come up and it will be something small sometimes. Recently, I had to forgive that he made my life hard. My life didn't have to be this hard. If he would have chose in to recovery, I wouldn't have had to go through so many hard things. So as I was thinking about that, and that was brought to my attention, that I was still holding on to a small piece of he made my life hard, I had to go through it. I had to look at it. What was I feeling? Why did I feel burdened by this? Why was I still holding on to something? I could look at those words from the Gottman Institute post and say, what is it that I'm feeling? And I could name it so that I could then heal it. And I could work through with God saying, Okay, this is how I feel, and I want to forgive this.
Why should I have to? He really did make my life hard. And I started asking myself the questions of, what did I gain because he made my life so hard? Because his choices hurt me so much, and caused me to take a path that was unknown; that was scary, that was traumatic; what happened from it? What actually came out of it? And I started naming the amazing good things that I've learned who I've become, how much I know now. I started thinking about how I wrote a book out of it, and how I get to talk to so many of you, through my podcast and through sessions that we have together. You have changed my life. This experience has made my life better.
So as I weigh them side by side, to the pain of what my life became, and all that I had to endure, and all those days and years of feeling like I cannot do this another day. Oh, how I wish that that many years ago, I would have had someone telling me all of this pain, this chaos, this trauma, this anxiety where you are thinking, I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do. I do not know how to do this. All those times that I said that How I wish somebody would have said to me, let's think about what the pain is that's coming up for you. Let's name it. Let's figure it out. Let's see all the times you felt that way. Let's heal those wounds. And let's see why you're feeling so anxious.
Because then I could have looked at those things, I could have healed those things. And I could have said, Okay, I see clear now. I want to set boundaries now. Because I know what it looks like I know what's causing me harm. I want to change some things. That would have been so amazing. I did get that eventually. But not in those first few years. I was navigating kind of on my own a little bit trying to make it up and figure it out as I went. I was doing the best I could. And I really was all in for what I knew. But it prevented me from healing quicker, because I did not know how to look at all of that.
That is some great stuff that came out of pain. Knowing how now to manage my emotions, so that I can be emotionally self reliant, so I can look at what's happening in me and think about it clearly. Versus wanting to throw it all over at other people or blame people or just get in my bed and go to sleep. I can actually look at it and manage it, heal it, talk it through, get rid of it, and then I'm on my way. It doesn't take me down anymore. It's not days of spinning. It might be an hour at times, sometimes a half of a day. And that's just part of life. We're going to go through emotional struggle. We're going to feel sad and pain and bad and we're going to feel like the things I've had to go through are too hard. That is true. There's nothing wrong with that. But we don't want to live in it.
We want to live in the place of healing. We want to live in the place of growth and progression because it feels good. We feel free. We don't feel like we're weighed down with these weights on our shoulders as we're trying to tread water. We feel like we're sitting on a floaty where we're kind of just going along and were peaceful. That's what feels good. In the experience that I had shared with you a few weeks back about my husband at that time choosing video gaming over me, where we were in counseling, and he said out loud, yes, gaming is more important than Roxanne. So shocking, right? If you listen to that episode, it's just craziness. When you hear things like that, that is such an addict brain thing to say and feel.
That's not a rational, healthy brained person. But that did happen. That was in about, oh, gosh, March, I think of 2015. We were separated in an in home separation since January of that year. We ended up divorcing in August after that. But in March, when that happened, I was still not at a place, even though I had done so much work and I had boundaries, and we were working on things. When he said that what was it that was preventing me from saying, Okay, you know what, honestly, I think it's time for me to go. Because he's showing me exactly how he feels about me. He is saying out loud, showing me with his actions, what he thinks of me and our relationship. Learning to see truth, learning to feel our pain, learning to navigate and name it and be able to say I feel uncared for, I felt embarrassed and ashamed and all sorts of other things when he said that in counseling.
By naming it, we can actually become stronger. And we can set more boundaries that we need. Or, for me in my situation, I could have said, I don't think I'm going to finish out giving you this year that I told you, after picking you up from rehab, I don't think I'm going to give you the rest of the year to see if you choose recovery. You're obviously not choosing it. You're not choosing me and you're not choosing us. And so I'm going to call it now. Why did I not do that? Why was I not able to? I just wasn't to the point where I understood that it was okay for me to take care of myself. I looked at the pain, I felt the pain I was still trying to navigate, saving him and saving our marriage that I wasn't able to hear the truth of that statement and say, Okay.
I still wanted to see if he would change and not live by that statement any longer. I wanted to come back to the next appointment and have him switch his his perspective and say, Oh, she's number one. And she's the greatest. And she's done all this work. And I love her so much. And I just want her in my life. And I'll give up gaming and I'll give up addiction because all I want is her and us. That's what I wanted. Of course, that's what I wanted. We all want those things. That's not what happened. That was not the truth. That was not reality. I was going all in and he was doing the recovery work in a way that felt okay for him, which looked to me like he was treading water. Like he was white knuckling it to the highest degree. He was sober, but he wasn't living in recovery.
So it made it impossible for me to have a healthy united relationship with him because we were not on the same page. We weren't living in the same lane. We weren't heading in the same direction. I was pulling and prodding and pleading, and wishing and hoping and crying that he would choose me. Eventually, in August, I did gain that strength. I kept working hard. That separation was the best thing that ever happened to me. Even though my goal was we would have our own separate spaces, and he would work his recovery and I would work mine, I still knew it was possible at that point that he would choose not to and he would just waste that time away. And I would do the work and I would get farther ahead to where I could no longer be in the same space. That I would be able to see more clearly, and come to that place of peace of walking away.
Even though that seems so devastating; maybe you're thinking I don't want that to be me. I don't want that to be my conclusion of all of this. Even though that was scary when I thought about it months before or years before, as I was doing the work, and my eyes became more clear, it wasn't scary. It wasn't that same thing of panic where I wouldn't know what it looked like or how to do it. God led me one step at a time. I didn't have to see the whole picture. I didn't have to try and figure it all out and know ahead of time what was going to happen. All I had to do was keep working. Keep healing. Keep noticing. Keep taking the tools that were placed in front of me adding them to my life so that I was able to connect to the truth.
Opening my eyes to the truth is what saved me. And as we are looking at our pain as we look at the triggers, as you look at what's going on with you, why are you feeling the way you do? As you really look at it and see truthfully what it is, and you work on what's happening inside of you, whether it's something you need to figure out and change in you, or whether it's something that you need to accept and notice in your partner, whatever it is, as you do that, and you accept that new awareness, you will be shown the next step, and you will be eased through it. The pain isn't gonna go away. The hard decisions don't come easier, just because they're the right ones. Making the decision to file papers of divorce wasn't easy. It was painful and hard. Yet I felt calm.
Just because it was the right answer for me at that time, didn't make the pain go away. I had to still do it. But it still felt right. There was no way to turn back and pretend I hadn't learned what I had. I could no longer live on the surface. I could no longer close my eyes to what was going on. I could no longer listen to the things he was saying or how he felt about me and try to change it. I had to recognize and see the truth. As I worked through all my pain, and notice where it was coming from, that's where I gained the freedom. That's where I gained the strength. That's where I gained the growth. And that's where I started becoming who I am, who I wanted to be. That's where I could start seeing my light and my love and my joy and everything that is in me start exuding out. That is a gift.
That pain that I went through excruciating, hard, crazy making pain was all worth it. It's worth it because it gave me me. It gave me my life. The life that was meant for me. The one that I was strong, took care of myself respected myself, the one where I could show other people how to learn and grow and heal. It gave me the life that led me to someone who was also choosing healing and recovery in the things that had happened to him. It led me to a place where I'm working, doing my purpose, what I was meant to do. I wouldn't have had that had I closed my eyes, had I lived on the surface, had I been more fearful of the outcome. The outcome was scary. I thought there's no way this can be made, right. But it was made right and more. Because I let go of the control. I let go of the fear of the unknown. And I let whatever was going to happen happen.
That peace and freedom and letting go and surrendering and letting God lead, then he could bless me, then he could show me what to do. He's the same with you. He's the same with everybody. He wants to show us how to get out of our own way, how to find the joy and happiness and our purpose. He wants to show us why the pain is important. And he wants to teach us how we can live through it and then thrive because of it. He wants to show us why we will be grateful for the trials that we've endured. This week, I challenge you to choose into looking at your pain. Every time something is hindering you, every time you have something painful that's coming up for you. Ask yourself what it is. I am feeling blank.
When that happened earlier today, I felt blank. Fill in the words for yourself. See what it is see where you're at. Work on those things. Pray about those things. Talk to your counselor about those things. Schedule a session with me. And we can talk about those things. But whatever you do, you will be guided to what you're supposed to do for your own healing and your own growth. By doing that you will be open to what's around you. And you will be in a place of accepting the truth. Whatever the truth is. By going through it and healing your wounds, you are going to be so filled with peace, you won't want to go back. You won't want to go back to the unknown, the fear, the pain; the settling for this is just my life.
There's no need to settle and say, well, I've made these decisions. I've made these bad choices. This is just how it is. This is my lot in life. I have to live like this forever because of what I've done years ago, because what I did yesterday, because what I've chosen. There's no way out. That's not how God works. There's always a way out with God. Always. He always shows us. He always shows up with friends, with tools, with podcasts, with books, with counseling, with recovery groups, with 12 step, so many ways. With music with art, meditation, exercise, he shows up. He shows us how to heal. And if we want to, we can have it.
Sending you all my love and care. I pray for you all the time. I'm constantly in awareness of the fact that there are so many struggling so many that really want healing. And I know that's why you're here. Because you really want to learn how to see truth. You want to heal and you want to be happy. So do your work this week, enjoy it. Look at all the cool stuff that comes up for you. Think about what you're grateful for about what pain you've already been in what's already been a blessing. And start even noting those things, making a list even. Maybe it only has one thing on it that maybe make a list of what is so great that's happening because of the pain that you've been in and who you are becoming. I will see you next time.