What To Do When That Tsunami of Suffering Hits

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“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.” 
~  Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

 

None of us is immune.

As I have grown older, through the private worlds of others that I have accessed in my life as a psychic, and in the unfolding of my own days, I have come to understand that suffering visits us all.

For almost everyone, at some stage, there will not just be one burden too heavy to bear. No. Instead what we will have is a tsunami of suffering. One impossible thing heaped upon another.

We will find ourselves in a place where the hits come so thick and fast that we will wonder how we can go on.

My sister and I still laugh about once when I became so desperate and dogged – at a time where everything was going wrong, where my life was nothing but bad news, and where only my husband still stood beside me and him in his own world of pain – that I rang Lifeline, an anonymous phone counselling service, hoping to find a glimmer of light in the darkest of times.

The counsellor asked me what was wrong, and I began to list things off.

She became quieter and quieter. Finally she stopped me.

That’s too many things, she said. I’m sorry. I’m only trained to help you with one problem. I’m completely overwhelmed. It’s just too much. I’m sorry.

After which I spent an hour counselling and reassuring her, before getting off the phone to make myself a cup of tea and reflect ruefully on the extreme emotional isolation I had found myself in, and to marvel that even in that place I had still managed to find a way to laugh at myself and my situation.

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I have survived a tsunami of suffering more than once, my friends. So I feel well qualified to offer a perspective. Coping skills have become one of my magical powers, not that I ever imagined I would be in a place to have that kind of knowledge. I’m glad to be able to share what I know in the hopes that it may ease your own suffering, or your sense of isolation.

A tsunami is catastrophic, and sometimes the way things break in you, or in your life, they can never be put back together the same way ever again.

But I have learned one thing well. Humans have incredible resilience. We have a great capacity to move through suffering, and to find ourselves eventually back on shore again. That shore may be completely different to the place we started. It will become familiar in time. You may even grow to like it better than the ‘before’ place.

It’s seldom graceful when we’re in the maelstrom. We just have to survive it any way we can, and with as much kindness and compassion for ourselves and those around us as we can muster.

Here’s what I know to be true:

  1. It helps to have someone to talk to. Someone who won’t judge. Someone who can listen and hold space while you unburden all the things, the tsunami of things, that are going wrong in your life. If there’s no-one you trust go outside and speak to the trees, talk with your pet, or your dead gran. Your Angels, Ancestors, Guides or God, if that works for you. Talk to your own wise self, or write it all down in your journal. There’s ALWAYS someone who’ll listen, and who’ll hold that tender space of care and love for you. It just might not be in the place you’d hope or expect it to be. (Like friends, partner or family. Be okay with that, so that it doesn’t add more pain to your burden.)
  2. Set short goals. Get through the next breath. The next minute. The next hour. Til sundown. Til sunrise. Tiny increments can get us through the most impossible pain.
  3. Breathe. Just breathe. In and out. In and out. Mindfully slowing your panic and bringing your awareness always back to your breath and then into your body or out into the world. Let your breath calm you.
  4. Ask for help.
  5. Don’t hide stuff, about your situation or relationship or whatever else is happening. It is what it is. When we hide things or make them out to be less than what they are we create shame, and make it impossible to stay open and to be able to accept help.
  6. Get creative. Know that you can survive stripped down, stripped bare, and that it is possible to make yourself and your life over from the ground up.
  7. Drugs, alcohol, emotional eating and self-harm don’t fix anything, and ultimately add more to both your burden and the distance you’ll have to travel back to yourself when this is all over. Try music instead, or binge-watching a box set of DVDs where the characters can become friends. Books are also great medicine. Can’t focus to read? Try an audio book or podcast. Knitting, art and crafts are also good. Sometimes you’ll look back and have no idea what you did with your time. That’s okay too.
  8. Meditation and time in nature heal more than you can know. Go try them and begin to experience their magic for yourself.
  9. People will often go all judgey, hard-arsed and holier-than-thou about the need for extreme self-care when your life has gone pear-shaped. They’ll be spruiking green smoothies, whole foods and superfoods. If you can manage this, great. But if you’re broke, miserable, exhausted and barely coping my advice to you is this. Eat something. Remember to drink water. Don’t overdo the caffeine. Or the sugar. It only makes you feel worse in the end. But if it’s what’s getting you through, do whatever you need to do, honey. Get some sleep. Try to make healthy choices, but know that toast can be an emergency food group.
  10. Find a support group, a counsellor or a caring practitioner who will listen, and who can guide you back to solid ground. That might not even be until after the worst has passed.
  11. Do the best you can. Be okay with days where you don’t cope, or barely cope. Some days will be better, some will be worse. That’s how it goes.
  12. Everything changes. Everything. Bad times end. Life may be different afterwards, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to know joy, happiness or safety again. Life returns to us in increments. Somehow, we find a way forward.

Some extra advice:

  • Walk away from people who tell you ‘everything happens for a reason’ or ‘you just need to work on yourself more’ or ‘God only ever gives you what you can handle’ or that ‘your outer world is only a reflection of your inner beliefs’. You don’t need that shit. You’ve got enough on your plate.
  • If people don’t understand, let it be. Sometimes the only people who will truly get it are others who have been in that same hard space. Some people will never understand. It’s likely that some of those people will be friends and family.
  • Your dark night of the soul, no matter how painful, has the power to be transformational. The circumstances of our suffering can steal so much away, but you can find a gift if you look for it. That gift could be resilience, compassion, wisdom, caring, courage, a stronger sense of self, a new view of yourself and the world, a deeper connection to humanity or an understanding of what really matters to you.

Sending you so much love, and holding you in my prayers and meditations. You’ll find a way. You’ll get through this. Nicole <3 xoxo

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22 thoughts on “What To Do When That Tsunami of Suffering Hits

  1. Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us! You have become a true ally in this battle.
    Much aloha and many blessing back to you xo

    • I am indeed your ally, Kristin. Thanks for the aloha and blessings. I’m always open to love and kindness xoxo

  2. Thank you. I am in that place. Tsunami is my word to describe what I’m feeling. Even with a good therapist, new and horrible things happen and I can’t figure out why. Why me.

    • Sabrina, I’m so sorry for the place you find yourself in. Know that I am here for you and sending love and support across the ethers.

      Over many years of asking that same question ‘why me? what did I do to deserve this?’ I have come to understand it this way. Why not me? What makes me magically immune to the suffering that must be part of everyone’s life at some time?

      It’s not your fault, it isn’t karma. It’s just life. And life can be a very bumpy ride.

      I’m glad you have a good therapist. That helps. And so does time. The space you are in right now won’t last forever.

      Sending you gentle hugs, love, rainbows to wrap around your shoulders, and the knowledge that you have a friend who truly does understand. Nicole xx

      • Thank you so so much. If only this man, my hub of 26 years, who I thought was my rock, hadn’t had an affair and then ran away instead of repairing the damage, I would be willing to hold his hand through HIS midlife journey. But when he wanted to bring third parties in our marriage, I couldn’t say yes, so he got very very angry, ran away, and is now trying to harm me financially. I hold loving space for him but he doesn’t see it. He is not the same man I was married to for so long, it’s as if he is now infected by evil. So sad. For our family, too.

  3. Hello Nicole

    Well as always you speak directly to my heart. These last few months I have had that pain that you have described here and even in the darkest night of the soul moments where I have begged to get out of this life – there was also an underlying calmness and peace that wrapped me up and loved me. It calmed me, it help save me.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    Sending you love, hugs and gratitude for all that you are.

    Jacq xx

  4. Thank you Nicole. Your advice, because you have been through it, makes it all the more valuable. I love the last paragraph – it’s the rainbow after the deluge. Best wishes, Rita

  5. Wise, wonderful words. Great advice. Grateful as… Thank you for sharing your wisdom and gift, Nicole. Love you and your work xoxoxo

  6. Thank you Nicole for speaking your truth….it’s really landed here where I’m finding it hard to show myself mercy. I feel more at peace after reading your words.

  7. Hi Nicole. I really enjoyed your post. I just had a question.. re ‘everything happens for a reason’… I would never say that to anyone suffering badly as it can come out sounding very flippant. But I have to admit that I sort of do feel like things happen for a reason – for my highest good, or because I have signed up for stuff before incarnating (and my ego has forgotten this), that kind of thing… in your work, have you found this to be true, or do you think that what happens to us in life is just dumb luck? I find the thought that everything happens for a reason to be quite comforting at times – I would love your take on this. Susan

  8. Nicole, I have insufficient words to express my sincere gratitude to you. I’ve spoken to you in person a few times, as have the people that I love. Your words have shone a light that has helped me (us) find my true path. When I met with you, I wasn’t sure what some of your words meant. Since that meeting, their meaning have become clear. I have very much experienced a dark night of the soul – the building blocks of my life have been disassembled and I’ve been forced to build a new life. There have been the toughest of challenges to face, but I am forever grateful for the love that I am endowed with by the universe. You are a marvellous lady who gives so much of yourself. You have me understanding in a time when nothing made sense. And this gave me trust I’m myself and the universe at a time when I needed most. Thank you for all that you give. Know that your words bring constant comfort to soo many people around you. Please know that I feel the light and love that you so freely give. It is time for you to know and feel those gifts reciprocated. Please feel the sunshine, hugs and love that I am sending back your way. Thank you to the moon and back. R xxx

  9. Great advice, Nicole. None of us like to think we don’t always cope with what life has to throw at us and you’ve given us some really powerful ways forward when the s#*t hits our proverbial fan!! Many thanks, Julian

  10. Thank you so much for this post. I have been having an extremely rough time with life at the moment (with waves of horrible situations) but this post made me feel less alone in these events and more hopeful that sunnier days are on the horizon. Thanks again and blessed be!

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