Monday, September 26, 2016

Becoming Beautiful Through Suffering

And when she at last came out, her eyes were dry. Her parents stared up from their silent breakfast at her. They both started to rise but she put a hand out, stopped them. ‘I can care for myself, please,’ and she set about getting some food. They watched her closely. 
In point of fact, she had never looked as well. She had entered her room as just an impossibly lovely girl. The woman who emerged was a trifle thinner, a great deal wiser, and an ocean sadder. This one understood the nature of pain, and beneath the glory of her features, there was character, and a sure knowledge of suffering.

~William Goldman, The Princess Bride

I've been listening to the Love Rice podcasts. Scabs, who hosts Love Rice, is a longtime BWC sister-warrior. The episode was about turning grief to beauty and at the end, Scabs recites the above passage from The Princess Bride.
I felt that ripple of recognition. Of knowing these words to be true. 
Because suffering changes us. And paradoxically it changes us into a deeper beauty. At those times when we feel most alone, there are millions suffering too. And when we reach out to those who are suffering, to say "me too", to say "I feel it too", to say "you are not alone", then we create a beauty that transcends. 
I remember looking in the mirror when I was in my deepest pain and my eyes held an ocean of sadness. There was no armour. There was only me. 
I hated my husband for turning me into this person with such raw pain in my eyes. Where was the light? Where was the laughter? The joy?
I want you to look in the mirror too. To look straight into your eyes. It might feel really difficult but do it anyway  You will see your sadness. You will see your stripped-of-armour vulnerability. Don't turn away. Keep looking into those eyes and you will see something else. You will see beauty. You will see the heart of someone who has felt suffering and is in the process of turning it into something else. A thing of strength. A thing of power and compassion. A thing of beauty.
Be patient with yourself and others. Be compassionate with yourself and others. Let the alchemy within your heart do its transformational work.
The laughter has returned to my eyes. The joy. But there is something else too. There is someone who has known suffering. There is a heart that recognizes your suffering, that feels it too. A heart that understands that our suffering is connected. 
And it has made me beautiful.


  1. Thank you for this, today, and all days of this journey. It has placed a sliver of quiet hope in me.

    1. SS,
      A sliver is all you need to begin cracking your heart wide open to more hope. Not necessarily blind hope in happily ever after but a solid hope that, no matter how this plays out, you are going to be just fine.

  2. Yes, Elle. I may never see your face, but you are deeply beautiful.

    1. Shine on, Elle. And your writing is beautiful too.

  3. This is why your blog is so soothing to each and everyone of us who have stumbled upon it in our worst moment in time! Yes, you are beautiful beyond words!

  4. This is the most beautifully written post ever. Your suffering has made your writing help so many woman and men. You turned your suffering into a blessing for many, An understanding beyond words but of the heart. You have something very special. Thank you for sharing it.

  5. This is so true, Elle. Thank you for all you do. I tried to share my story a few days ago. It wouldn't post. But maybe I just need to say "me too". I never thought I'd be here. But I am. And I'm stronger than I ever thought I could be. God has used even this to help rid me of FEAR. I feared betrayal above everything. And it happened. And I am okay.

    We made the decision to reconcile and we are well on the healing road with help from lots of others ahead of us on this journey. Our marriage is being rebuilt. But I am not building my identity as his wife anymore. I am walking with him but not depending on him. And knowing other sisters are traveling the same path has truly been a saving grace. I am not the same as I was, but that is good.


    1. S,
      Welcome. So glad you found us.
      And I love your description of this reconciliation – walking alongside each other toward a future.

    2. Beautiful! Your words warmed my heart.



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