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Notes to Self: On Suffering

Part of a series called "Notes to Self", a collection of my personal iPhone notes.

What does it mean to suffer oneself?

To suffer my self. The product of both who I am at my core which can be called my “soul” and all that has been given to me, whether I asked for it or not, which has marked the experience of this self in this life.

What does it mean to suffer at all? Well, when I have suffered it has been defined by a force outside of me which is out of my control which has some sort of control over me, and it pains and/or restrains me. Whether it be in the world, my family, my body, my mind, the consequences of my choices.

Even the act of being born itself, into this world and its problems, is an instance of suffering. Perhaps the first taste of it. A shared suffering which brings life & joy binding mother and child and family in that experience. But one wrought with suffering nonetheless. My point is - suffering, it seems, is an inherent part of our existence.

Even if we are not fully aware of where all our suffering is coming from, what it is or what causes us to suffer – we are all or have been bound by something, to something, that causes us pain. Through which we must suffer through to the other side, if we are lucky.

Perhaps a good part of what it means to grow up and survive is learning how to suffer. I have come to believe everyone I know is suffering some sort of unthinkable battle inside of them, or has at some point in their life. Many are aware of intense suffering since a young age. Some, like me, learned to just “get over it” (read: repress & numb) to cope and forget entirely just how much they suffered until it comes back to haunt them (trauma). Others didn’t even have the luxury of being able to pretend to get over it.

Most whom I know are trying to figure out how to piece themselves back together and become someone who has learned from what they have suffered so they do not have to as badly again. I am amazed at my peers and those in my life who are working through this everyday and those who manage to do it in stride, at least, to me it looks like it by the way they are still kind and still trying to help others.

When I look at the older generations and listen to what they have been though and think of how little care or resources there ever were available to them to learn how to suffer besides leaving the part of them which feels it behind because survival necessitates it – I no longer feel able to sit on my 25-year-old throne and blame them for how their suffering has affected me, and them, and others and how they ought to do things.

I feel like it’s a goddamn miracle they are even here, when I think of how close my suffering at this young age led me right to the brink of breaking - did break me, just didn’t kill me. Right to the brink though. And that is no exaggeration. And I had it…well, easier than a lot of people. And harder, in my own way. Doesn’t that apply to us all?

I’m noticing where my brain used to see facts and hard moral lines and “wrong” and “right” – these edges have begun to soften into stories. With that, I have taken a great interest into hearing more stories. Listening more. And I’m starting to realize - who am I to judge? How could I know if I have never walked in your shoes? And that is not to say I would not be able to say what would have been the right thing to do. It means, had I been that person living in that story – how can I know that I would have been able to suffer their story any differently than they did?

So I think what it means to suffer oneself is I am beginning to learn that perhaps the greatest burden we can have is that of carrying the weight of other people’s suffering as our own to where we erase our own suffering which we then offload onto someone else to carry – under the misunderstanding that our suffering could ever belong to anyone else or be fixed by anyone else without causing that person to suffer too.

And so to suffer oneself is perhaps to take all that has been unjustly dumped on one’s self suffocating the soul and choosing to digest it all – and shit it out once and for all. Not on someone else for them to digest, but to the earth which was built to carry all the weight we are if only we let it. Surrender to our suffering and our suffering to her soil – she will find a way to grow magic mushrooms out of it, that miracle of a planet she is.

This is what I think I am coming to – this realization that nothing was ever fair and it will continue to be utterly unfair and the best I can do to help is digest all the unfairness that has been dumped onto me and let the cycles I have the power to end end with me, no matter how excruciating that may be. It is hard to digest other people’s shit and we shouldn’t have to – but if it was dumped on me already with nowhere to go except in or back out onto someone else – it helps to swallow it down as a story and not just shit to take.

If I am lucky, I have the wisdom or can seek the wisdom out to take steps to prevent more shit from accumulating on top of the pile

I already have and eventually scrape the bottom of what I was given before I knew I had a right to say no, and a right to my self – at last free of suffering, but full of stories like tattoos upon my soul.

And the thing is, in doing this I am free to help free some of the Mount Everest of shit which some others carry and cannot possibly be expected to digest in their lifetime the way I have been able to—-at least if I continue on will be able to, statistically speaking—-digest mine. To me, that is privilege.

Disclaimer: Please be aware, these are simply my personal notes and not to be taken as truth or professional advice.

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