I feel I've stumbled on a beginning to the end of my pain by focusing on truth. If something is not true, I need not fear it. If something is true, my pain will cease only when I grapple with it, confront it, deal with it. There is nothing terribly frightening in that, although I might need some time and patience in order to be able to do it.
I'm casting about on the Web looking for helpful statements about the truth. So far I haven't found much. There's this:
". . . and the truth shall set you free." (John 8:32)
There is my post on how the law of the Lord, in its perfection, restoreth the soul.
There are these two other quotations, that I have quoted earlier in this blog:
"Respect for the truth comes close to being the basis for all morality." (Frank Herbert)
"Every violation of truth is not only a sort of suicide in the liar, but is a stab at the health of human society." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
I have a glimmer of a sense that, if I can pursue this line of thinking, I just might be able to come to grips with things that happened decades ago, with what happened yesterday, and with things that happened during all the intervening years. It is just possible that a heavy dose of sunshine might disinfect the whole lot of them.
That is another truth-related quote, I suppose:
"Sunshine is the best disinfectant." (Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis)
A related theme is that of invalidation. I haven't looked up the etymology, but I'm pretty sure that the words "valid" and "invalid" have something to do with truth.
(Added later: The word "valid," as I have used it here, appears to mean "supported by facts or authority." Invalidation would then presumably mean something like: "denying the existence of facts or authority.")
Here's a definition of (emotional) invalidation:
"To invalidate is to reject, ignore, mock, tease, judge, or diminish someone's feelings."
In order to continue, I'm going to have to announce some truths, I suppose, or at least say what I accept as true. One proposed truth: It is wrong, morally and ethically, to invalidate another. A related proposed truth: It is both wrong and cruel, i.e., profoundly immoral, to invalidate while pretending to "love" the invalidated person.
Just now, as I investigated invalidation, I came across a set of suggested responses to invalidating statements. What interests me, apart from their possible effectiveness (at least for the speaker) is that they are all essentially truth-oriented!
Now, a bit later, I have come across an entire pamphlet that deals with the question how to think about, and respond to, criticism. I haven't studied it yet, but it looks wonderful.
As I attempt once again today to understand and address and heal my pain, I come once more to the power of truth. From time to time, I find myself trying out a notion so radical (for me) that I cannot quite believe it: that perhaps there is no pain, but only the temporary acceptance of falsehood and the postponed effort to seek the truth.
Yesterday's email, which has given rise to so much pain that I have contemplated shutting down this blog, was full of falsehood. The fact that someone I trusted would insist on so many pernicious falsehoods, deliberately and with malice aforethought, has caused me so very much pain yesterday, last night and still this morning.
It seems possible, perhaps even likely, that I can cause that pain to diminish, and even cease, only by examining the statements that were made and making a full and complete effort to discover their degree of truth. My inclination is, in part, to do the opposite -- to run away from the pain they have caused, and therefore from them as well.
I'm thinking, however, as I work my way through these multiple hours of twisting and turning and attempting to find surcease, that "the only way out is through." The only way to make pain stop is by going to its source, examining it honestly, discovering the honorable way to deal with it, and then following through.
I'm trolling the Web tonight, and poking about Something Beautiful, in search of consolation. (Explanation provided in previous, now deleted, post.)
Somehow it occurred to me to look up my favorite scene in the film "Billy Elliott." If you haven't seen it, you'll probably like it too -- I Love to Boogie. To my mind, it is an absolutely marvelous sequence.
I've been grieving a loss, with little let-up or relief, for the past seven months. Yesterday I suddenly remembered a passage in a book that has sometimes comforted me in the past, as to previous losses.
The book is I Heard the Owl Call My Name, by Margaret Craven, set in an Indian village of the Pacific Northwest. The passage comes near the very end, when the villagers are mourning the death of a young priest. He had ministered to their parish for the previous year, and earned their trust and affection. Marta, an elderly woman, is particularly saddened by this loss.
On the night of the day Mark died, she prays by speaking to his spirit. She uses the words of her people's tradition:
Walk straight on, my son. Do not look back. Do not turn your head. You are going to the land of our fathers.
It puzzles me, to some extent, why I should find this passage so comforting. I think it is because the passage suggests that the person whom we have lost still has a road to travel, and that he or she is on it. There is comfort in that. And it suggests that they have not so much left us as gone on before us, that they travel a road we will ourselves one day traverse. There is comfort in that as well.
I do seem to feel somewhat better about this most recent loss since remembering Marta's prayer.