is that life is suffering. To live, you must suffer. It is impossible to live without experiencing some kind of suffering. We have to endure physical suffering like sickness, injury, tiredness, old age and eventually death and we have to endure psychological suffering like loneliness, frustrations, fear, embarrassment, disappointment, anger, etc.
We need to understand this. Suffering does indeed exist. It is a reality. Life cannot be lived without experiencing suffering. Pain, loss, hurt, overwhelming defeat is part of the human experience. Some of us become consumed by these moments. Some feel they have experienced more than others. Some feel others may be immune. If you breathe, you will experience suffering.
Many try to run from it, others become engulfed in it. It is what we do with and how we prepare ourselves for these moments that help to define us. Some of our greatest leaders have experienced the greatest depths of suffering. For many, these moments define us. Both negatively and positively.
When I was a teenager I got myself involved with the wrong crowds. Ultimately it led to me being jumped by a gang. This experience was so foreign to me. You see I grew up from a small town (Flagstaff, AZ) I never saw violence. I was a paperboy and my mother was the neighborhood babysitter. I was never aggressive, nor witnessed any type of street violence. During my young teens, I was thrown into an innercity (Glendale, AZ) environment due to my father’s company shutting down. Trying to “fit in” I hung out with “popular” kids that were in gangs. This led to confusing times. While recovering from being jumped, I questioned violence in general. Why did my path lead me into a scenario where I would become attacked in such way? I was thought I was a good kid. How did this happen?
During my downtime recovering from my attack, I was flipping through cable TV. I came across the news channel at the top of the hour. They were going over the news of the day. In under 10 minutes, they focused on the blowjob situation for 9. The rest of the world news was wrapped up into 1 minute. This included hearing “.”
Did I hear that right? 3,000 dead? By a machete? No more details? Why is this not covered more in the news?
I hobbled over to my computer. Yay dial-up internet! I searched for Rwanda. Where is this place? Why 3,000 dead? I spent a week researching online the. I was floored. Hurt. Angry. Why isn’t this covered more? For some odd reason, I equated the small experience of me being jumped (non-sensical violence) to the violence transpiring in Rwanda. I discovered a news source called . I found out they had a local meeting. I started to attend and educate myself with the many atrocities happening in so many places.
So much violence.
I went on to find answers by the means of a college education. I focused on International Relations in my studies. Specifically, Human Rights. I also sought answers in faith. I attended church. I studied world religions. I found more questions than answers. The more I learned, the more suffering I found.
For my senior thesis, I wanted to combine both my disciplines into one. I questioned if there is an all-powerful god, why does such evil, such as genocide exist? Is he/she vengeful? Spiteful? Silent to the pain? Or simply, not there?
As the year’s pass, I focused on my career and my marriage. Both ever changing. From music business to politics; Public Relations to Digital Marketing my career continued to evolve and transform. As did my marriages. Married twice and bouncing around the country I felt many ups and down. I felt many highs and suffered many pains. Loss of so many people dear to me and heartache tore at my soul. Through this time I threw myself in that search of discovering suffering and spirituality only to come close to answers and then distracted by various forms of pain and loss. In 2016 I ended a very toxic marriage. A marriage that drove me to drink heavily. With that separation, I lost a step-child whom I loved dearly. My ex-wife blocked my access to her. It began impacting my job. I never dealt with my pain and loss due to my utter disconnection from any spirituality I once had.
My drinking raged on to numb the pain. In the late spring / early summer of 2017, I had a friend killed himself by hanging. He was a critical part of my early days in the music business. He was a kind man who made it big in the music industry. His name was Chester Bennington from Linking Park. I knew him as Chester from in Phoenix, AZ. I got to know him as a high schooler serving coffee at a nearby coffee shop. I heard his music as he opened up for bands I would help promote. He became a friend.With his rise to fame grew, we lost touch. But he remembered me and gave me the biggest hug when I would see him at one of Linkin Park’s shows. I still considered him a friend.
His music, his fans, his friends all started to become more meaningful to me as we all were trying to deal with his loss. His death made me reflect on the time we had and how he must have dealt with all his suffering in silence. He always wore a smile. Maybe ending it all was a way to stop the pain? If someone with all the fame, respect, and wealth that he had ended up turning to suicide to end the pain, what chance do I have. My drinking spiraled out of control to the point that these ideas of ending it became real. So real it scared me and some of my friends and coworkers. I picked up the phone to get help. I called a detox and treatment center.
How did I get to this point?
During detox, the question of faith and suffering were the focus. The 12 step program required an understanding and submission to the will of a . The people I met during treatment had so many stories of pain and suffering. I was both humbled and in awe of this path. So many deep connections so fast. Such a reflective time to recenter and dive deep into my own demons. Time to truly get to the root of my own suffering while learning from others.
In posts to follow this, I will dive into more specific stories and chapters in this path. This is a rough summary. But I lay this out now to give a quick synopsis of this journey to share what I have learned. In my thesis in college I came to the conclusion that without bad, you cannot define good. Without left, there is no right. Without evil… pure evil, then there is no experiencing pure beauty. One must experience the polar opposite to define the other. Suffering has to exist to understand peace. Through my recovery, I have seen so much suffering in many in and out of addiction. “Normies” that don’t define themselves as addicts also have this same reality. From work, to play… many use various methods to escape suffering. This realization gave me the foundation to rediscover (or redefine) my own faith.
We all experience suffering. We all deal with it differently. But suffering is a reality.
In many Christian beliefs, suffering and .
In many eastern traditions, evil is part of a yin-and-yang keeping harmonic balance with humanity.
In recovery pain, suffering, and evil can be a motivating factor to right our ways. Many need to hit that “rock bottom” to finally see the light and want recovery. Many are paralyzed by it. Others relapse to make the pain when dealt with such a wave of suffering after bouts of sobriety.
A key part of my recovery has been to acknowledge that suffering does indeed for all. It is part of the human condition. Once aware that one cannot escape suffering, then one can prepare the mind, heart and the spirit of oneself to process.
Suffering exists for all. Be prepared.
To prepare, I had to regain a strong center. I had to dive deep into previous pain and deal with the impact that still resides in my day-to-day life.
I returned to my teachings in college. Authors and then. I reread books and listened to talks that inspired me then when I was in a different vantage point. The teachings meant something new now. It was like a breath of fresh air to my soul that has become clouded by denial alcohol, depression, and apathy. I focused on each reading the night before looking for signs the next day where I can apply this waken state.
I began to see the suffering of others and develop empathy void of my own bias.
I began to meditate on these new perspectives.
I began to love again.
But this time, I saw it fresh knowing the pain that exists in the world. I help the beauty of human connection and all that is good as a blessing. Acknowledging the suffering of the past and in the world, I no longer take for granted the beauty that exists. With this the awareness of suffering became empowering. Remembering the yin and seeing the yang. The duality of pain and beauty. That empowerment gave me the steps to climb from rock bottom and redefine my perspective in life.
Suffering and the hell on earth I had become incapacitated from became the fuel to see the good. The motivation to strive for others to see the good. Transformation of paralysis to action. Faith in action. With this, I am determined to make a positive impact on the human condition each day. It might be a small favor, a gesture, a smile. Even the small gestures can enlighten a moment for someone that might be living a day of hell. Those positive actions cause ripples.
With so much pain and suffering in the world and no hope to end it, why not counter it with love?
What is your story of pain and suffering? What, if at all, have you learned from these moments in life? Have you become paralyzed by the pain? Share your story. You might still be stuck in that hole of pain and suffering… hell on earth. You might be getting help. You might be helping yourself. Many, regardless of what part of that journey, are sharing similar experiences. This blog is an attempt to learn, connect, relate and support turning suffering as a motivation to see the beauty in your world.