I happen to enjoy foreign and independent films. They tend to be more thought provoking and have more depth than Hollywood blockbusters. The thing is, they also tend to focus on the hardships of life and they are known for leaving things open, hanging, unfinished. Mark and I watched a German film last night – not his cup of tea, but he endured it for me.
The film is called Lore. It is the heart wrenching story of five German siblings who are abandoned at the end of WWII. Their parents are Nazi supporters who are imprisoned for war crimes and the children are left to make the harrowing journey across a devastated land to find their grandmother in the north. The things they witness and are exposed to along the way are unspeakable and you see how it impacts the eldest daughter, Lore, most of all. A lovely, innocent girl at the start, over the course of a few weeks you see her lose her softness and naivety. Lore endures so much pain and heartache that she no longer fits in the world as she once did. She is warped by her emotional wounding and cannot relate easily to others. Her grandmother does not understand and the effect on her is tragic.
The movie is beautifully filmed. It is lush and visually inviting with forests, fields, and so much natural beauty, but it is also sad and difficult to watch. I have been pondering it today and thinking about the message. It is unclear what the director’s intention was, but for me, one thing this film illustrates is how pain and wounding, if not processed well with someone who cares, makes us angry and disoriented. Lore went through so much difficulty that she began to feel she no longer fit in the world. Not everyone can relate to that, but I know many of you can. Many of you have been through unspeakable things that have left you limping as if you had a broken bone that was never properly set. I have certainly felt this way in my own life and watching this film made me think, why do we never talk openly about what to do with the pain?
I spent years studying social work and even have a Masters in the subject. I have worked in adoption, adolescent mental health services, and at a psychiatric hospital. I have experienced a lot of emotional pain in my personal life and have also seen this kind of pain destroy the lives of others, but it seems that no one directly addresses the issue of what to do with this pain with much success. We are taught what to do about physical pain, but no one mentions what to do with our emotional pain. We invest tremendous amounts of money to correct physical maladies and prevent sickness, but we do not talk about how to cope with our emotional hurts. Most efforts to address emotional pain are administered long after the pain initially occurred and people are still embarrassed to deal with it. Many have already endured years of carrying the hurt before they can bring themselves to seek help.
Watching the film, I was struck by how much it would have helped Lore to have just one person who she could sit with and tell it all. One soul brave enough to walk through the hurt with her and let her purge it right then and there might have changed everything for Lore. But instead she had to internalize it all and it pushed her to the brink. I wonder if we could be brave enough with each other to share and listen without judgment. I wonder if we could save each other by becoming a safe place for people to unload the toxic waste of their hearts.
The truth is that people have to be able to speak out their pain or it festers inside them like an infection. We have to be able to let out the hurt through tears and words. We need another human to validate our pain and acknowledge our suffering without judgment or shame. It is the only healthy way to remove infection from our souls.
I would like to suggest that an effective way to deal with emotional pain is to share it openly with someone you trust as quickly as possible, then offer that pain up to God, Love, the Universe – whatever source of Goodness you connect with. As best as you are able, try then to forgive the ones who have hurt you. Unforgiveness only hurts us – it adds to the toxic waste we carry. If we deal with pain immediately by talking about it as soon as we are able, then give it away to the Source of Goodness in our life – healing and hope are much more likely to come.
As someone who has had to deal with such pain, I want to recommend this approach. It has helped me tremendously and I think it will help you. I also want to encourage you that if you are able, try to be that safe place for someone else. It is important to allow yourself to feel compassion for the person and accept them completely – only in this place of Love can they truly heal. If you are a religious person, then trust that God will address anything He needs to with them – YOUR JOB IS SIMPLY TO LOVE. Love is the game changer. Love is the antibiotic that brings healing. Love is the balm that we all need. Listen with Love and let the pain float away as the person shares their heart. As we do this for each other we create a space for deep healing and restoration to happen.
It is true that we are never the same after profound emotional wounding, but if we use that pain to connect with others who are hurting and share their burden then we have made an antidote from our own hurt. Just as a broken bone heals stronger than it was before, so can we if we know what to do with the pain. Do not be afraid of your wounding – it is the thing that makes you human, gives you compassion, and makes you strong – if you will let it pass through you and away. Start dealing with the hurts in your life and become a place of Goodness and safety for those around you. What a way to give purpose to pain and meaning to life.
What do you do with your emotional pain? Let Goodness help you.