When I was a little girl I used to get growing pains in my legs, usually in the middle of the night. My legs would ache so terribly that it would wake me up and I would cry out into the darkness. My mother would rouse herself out of her sleep and come sit next to me on the bed, massaging my legs and reassure me that this was normal and natural and that everything was going to be ok. She told me she’d had them when she was growing up, too.
Of course, neither her words, nor her touch could stop the pain. But they helped me relax into it, and eventually I would find some peace of mind and drift off, letting my small body do its important work of growing up and becoming stronger.
Right now, I see a lot of growing pains happening all around me. There is lot of psychic and emotional pain and discomfort on display. Our society is grappling with changes that need occur so that we can live up to our shared ideals and be strong, healthy and mature.
Some of the reactions to this pain are difficult to watch. I see people becoming listless and depressed. I see others losing their control, lashing out and becoming angry and aggressive. Still others dissolve into tears. And some are trying to numb the pain with all manner of distractions.
Growth — whether physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual — is not easy or fun. It takes energy. It takes determination. It takes patience with ourselves and others. It hurts.
I look back on those long nights of pain and discomfort now with a sweet heart. Not because I relish pain, but because those were moments when I felt my mother close to me. My relationship with her is built on a million small interactions like this over the years.
Imagine if she’d told me to just suck it up and stop crying. That I was too fragile and weak. That I deserve pain and should learn to deal with it because she’d suffered, too? Imagine what that would have done to a growing little girl, and my ability to help others who were in pain. Imagine how that would have impacted my relationship with my mother, forever.
I think what the world needs right now are people who come in and sit by us in the dark of night. Those who can’t and won’t remove the pain, but who will let us know we’re not alone. Who make it easier for us to process and find peace in the discomfort. Those who have experienced those pains in the past and can assure us that we’re going to be ok.
And in fact, we’re going to be better than ok.