Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes it feels like a rollercoaster, except you don’t realize the huge jerking turns are coming, much less the stomach-dropping plunge. Yet this is where I find myself, and I’m choosing to lean into this state instead of medicating it or running from it.

I wonder if you sometimes feel like this, too. I’m expecting you do; none of us is immune from pain or sorrow or fear.

After many years of distress, followed by a couple of very intense years of coming to grips with that unfolding reality, I felt an incredible sense of relief and of peace at the choices I made for my health and well-being. I still affirm those choices and have no regrets.

In fact, I love my life. I’m blessed by a peace and serenity that is soothing to my spirit. My astonishing support system continues to nurture and nourish me. My MamaGod is ever present in ways I never dreamed possible. I believe today more deeply than ever that I am loved and lovable and chosen and never alone. What a gift!

AND – because it’s an ampersand state of both/and – I’m triggered in a profound way by a recent event. I’m aware that the trigger, while important and something I need to attend to relationally, isn’t the real issue. The painful reaction goes way, way deeper and activates core woundedness. The upside is that this current pain offers a chance for further healing if I am courageous enough to pay attention and process and grow.

Years of recovery have shown me that being triggered is inevitable. It’s especially predictable for those of us who have been deeply wounded by attachment injuries, abandonment, and betrayal (whether we have been betrayed or betrayed others, or both, which is true for most of us). Being triggered occasionally into that pain is normal. I’m practicing the grace of being gentle with myself, of accepting this vulnerable side of being human.

Sometimes though, I (and you perhaps?) need the reminder that it’s ok to be triggered. It’s OK to have down times when life feels harder, more painful than pleasant, more distressing than uplifting. The joy is still there underneath. The work of healing and growing is still fruitful; in fact, that growth is what allows us better to weather the hurting times.

My cup is finally full enough that the wine inside is only sloshing out a bit; the glass isn’t shattering. Today I can simply feel the emotions, be curious about their message, consider what they may be teaching me, and let them run by. The emotions don’t have to – they don’t get to – run the show. They aren’t in charge. My healing, wise adult self is present to regulate and guide me.

Today I choose gratitude, which is an idea fully prompted by a recent post by Jen Hatmaker (Gratitude definitely isn’t my immediate go-to when I’m in pain.) I breathe in God’s truth about Her love and concern; I breathe out distress and disappointment. I breathe in courage for the moment and the days ahead; I breathe out fear and loneliness.

I dedicate today to embracing gratitude, to remembering all my blessings that are true and dependable no matter how I feel in the moment. Perhaps even more helpful, today I dedicate myself to expressing gratitude to others for their gifts to Bethesda Workshops and to me. I am writing notes and sending emails and making calls to thank and encourage those who have gifted me.

In the same way that the opposite of addiction (whether as an addict or a partner) is connection, I embrace that the opposite of pain isn’t constant “happiness,” it’s gratitude.

If these thoughts resonate with you — if you find yourself feeling set back by some unexpected, triggering plunge — be encouraged. This state is normal, and this, too, will pass. If you aren’t in that place at the moment, perhaps you will remember this truth when you need it. Or perhaps you’ll get to remind someone else . . . today.

Life is full of dichotomies. The roses always come with thorns. All will be well.

Marnie C. Ferree