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.