There is the pain you feel because it’s deep in your being, in real time, working on you. And there is the pain you feel when it’s ready to be released.

Current Pain and Departing Pain.

Current pain is the hurt you’re carrying with you today. It’s in the vicinity of your core. It doesn’t matter when the pain was inflicted — a few days ago in a meeting, or ongoingly in the way your partner withholds, or by a past childhood trauma. Lingering or acute, if it’s affecting you now — if you’re still healing, it’s real time pain.

Departing pain is, as it suggests, on its way out. It’s your current pain transforming, loosening, lifting. And Lord have mercy, this is just what you want to have happen — for the pain to leave you.

“Except… departing pain isn’t any lighter or easier as it leaves your system. In fact, on its way out, departing pain can be wretched. It’s like the last few heaves of getting poison out of your system. Just when you thought you’d purged it all, your body lurches with one more hurl to make sure the toxins are good an’ gone. That last lurch can catch you off guard. Where did that come from? And it’s … extra painful.”

Assessing your pain

So here’s what to do when you’re in pain: Identify if you’re in Current Pain or Departing Pain. Current pain says: I’m dealing with the pain. This pain needs my attention. Departing pain says: I’ve learned all I can from this pain. I’m letting go. This pain is leaving me.

Do you need more healing time? Current pain needs time — a few weeks… a few decades, such is life. It requires tears and therapeutic conversations, pilgrimages and fires. It’s the spirit’s creative tension. It’s the recovery process we’re in. It’s what we’re managing to varying degrees of stifling darkness to occasionally triggered sadness.

Departing pain comes after you’ve fully felt the current pain. Let me say that another way: The pain starts to lift after you’ve gone through it. Let me put that differently: Once you’ve gone down with the pain, examined it, smelled it, talked to it, squeezed it, then it’s done its job and it’s ready to fully transform. One more time: Feel it to free it.

Are you ready? (Get ready because it’s going to hurt more. But it’s good.) Let’s say you’ve done the work. You’ve felt that pain (you’re amazing and courageous). You learned so much from that pain. You’re so damn DONE with that pain. You’re feeling so free, so present, so moved on and then…WHAM. More of the SAME pain. What the hell?! Didn’t you work through this already? You were doing so well and then you want to curl up in a ball or break something. Isn’t this over with yet? (Yes, almost.)

Departing pain tends to catch you off guard. Which makes you get all judgey with yourself because you’ve come so far. Expansion/contraction. Expansion/contraction.

If you’re in Current pain over something, you’re going to keep doing your healing work. Keep calm and call your shaman. You can do this.

Or if you’re in Departing Pain, here’s what you’re going to do: You’re going to not judge yourself for being pathetic. You’re going to feel the pain like a champ. And you’re going to start making celebration plans because you are crossing the finish line. The pain is leaving! It’s never going to be this bad again!

When you’re in pain, you have to feel it to free it.

Take heart! The final round of agony is a purification process. It’s not wounding you deeper, it’s cleaning you as it says goodbye. You’re not stuck, you’re about to fly — higher than ever.