I haven’t talked to an LDS parent that didn’t feel some pain when their child came out.
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional,” But where is the line between pain and unnecessary suffering?
There are two types of pain – clean and dirty. Clean pain is normal and healing and dirty pain is pain that causes us additional pain and keeps us stuck.
Clean pain is pain felt from difficult circumstances in life, it hurts deeply and profoundly, but it relates to things as they actually happening— the facts of the situation and the reality event.
Dirty pain, is taking difficulty from life and blaming yourself or others for it, arguing with reality, should-ing all over it, or just generally thinking “things should be different and how things are is wrong.”
Examples of clean versus dirty pain:
Clean pain: “I felt disappointment when my son came out as gay.
Dirty pain: “If I had been a better mother my son would not be gay.”
Clean pain: “My daughter came out as bi-sexual and I feel some sadness about that.”
Dirty pain: “I'm worried how people will judge her.”
Clean pain: “I am sad that my daughter doesn’t want to go to young women's.
Dirty pain: “Our young women’s leaders should be doing more for my daughter.”
See the differences here? Clean pain is real and valid, dirty pain involves generalizations, should-ing, and negotiating/reality, worry and blaming ourselves or others.
Dirty pain is like when you have wound and you just keep squeezing lemon juice all over it.
You are arguing with reality. You argue with who they are, with how they feel, and with what their lives look like.
It feels terrible to do this because you can't control others. People will say words and do things we don't agree with BUT we can do the work on how we think about other's actions.
How do you clean up your Dirty Pain?
1. Stop resisting the pain. We create more pain for ourselves when we don’t slow down and process the emotions. When we resist sadness, grief, anger it can grow into anxiety and depression.
2. Connection – Find a friend, therapist or coach that you can have a safe, non-judgmental place to process all your emotions. Having a space to just say your thoughts out loud – gives you awareness of what is happening in your brain.
3. Accept Reality – Become aware of how you are actually thinking and telling yourself about your child being LGBTQ. Are you conscious of your thoughts about the circumstance?
4. Compassion. When I stopped telling myself to stop feeling a certain way is when I begun to heal. I let myself feel grief when I needed to. I stopped judging myself for what emotions I was feeling. I started talking to myself like my best friend and this gave me a place to heal.
5. Question Your Thoughts– I started to question my thoughts. Some of my thoughts about myself and others actions/words were not useful or even true. I noticed that once I started questioning my judgement of myself it became easier to drop judgement for others.
6. Humans are a Hot Mess!- Remember we are ALL humans - and humans are messy. When people said things that felt hurtful for myself or child I try to process my hurt and then go to them with curiosity not judgement . Some of these conversations were life changing for them by helping them see a different perspective. They were always life changing for myself because my love for others increased because I gained great understanding about that individual- and understanding leads to love.
My favorite all time quote : You either love someone or you don't understand them.
This quote has been proven true to me thousands of time when dealing with others. I really have found that most people are doing the best they can and that thought helps give me grace to others when people do things that are disappointing. I know I don't always do it perfectly and I try to be as generous with them in my thinking as I hope they would be with me.
Once I stopped putting lemon juice on my wounds, this gives me space to think about my life that brings me joy and less pain:
My son is amazing.
He is learning how to show up in the world in a way that will serve him.
I can be a great parent for my son.
I love having him in my life.
I can show others how to love our LGBTQ members with love and kindness.
Are any of these thoughts available to you now? You can decide if you want to think these, this is your child’s journey and you make the decision on how to think about it.
Perhaps this is your child’s life curriculum right now. And perhaps it is also yours. Sometimes we want to take away the learning away from our experiences so that we can feel better, but what if that isn’t necessary?
Consider that others don't have to change at all, for you to feel better by deciding what you want to think.
Acceptance instead of arguing with something is like leaving a door open for things to flow in and out of instead of using all your might to hold it shut.
Acceptance eliminates feeling bad about feeling bad. (Half of your suffering goes away.)
Once you stop thinking things should be different, then decide what kind of human you want to be. From this place you can create space for them to have their journey while allowing you to have space to have yours..
What might change if you accepted the good AND the bad in your life instead of arguing with it?
Pain is a part of life – but so is joy, peace, hope. It’s unnecessary suffering that stands between us and the most beautiful parts of lives and ourselves. I would love to help you process your unnecessary suffering, sign up for a conversation with me and find out how 45 minutes can change your life.