Why You Must Walk Through A Firestorm Of Pain To Discover Yourself

A guest post by Diana Baur

Several years back, I went through a spiritual, emotional and physical crisis of a proportion I had never experienced.

There were moments during that time, many of them, when I thought I might not make it through.  So severe was the pain and suffering.

Events and timing in my life had precipitated a fall so deep that getting up again seemed unlikely.  I wasn't sure if I really wanted to get up again, or could. I languished in pain for a good long time, not knowing when or how it would resolve itself.

I couldn't see clear of the fear and anxiety; it came on like a tidal wave, scaring me to intimidation and submission. I didn't have the skill set to defend my soul from it.

Around about this time, an important event was taking place.

I had to make a decision not to go to something that I and many others wanted me to attend, as I was physically and emotionally too weak to meet the challenge.

By making this decision, a person I love judged me harshly.

The situation that presented itself between myself and this person set us on a direct psychic collision course.

In a twist that I never could have imagined, she judged and repudiated me, casting me as self-centered and worked to convince others of this as well.

The fear of rejection

I was scared out of my mind that I would lose this person and all the people who she could in any way influence during a time when I was weak and injured.

I was too sick to defend myself; being cast as something other than I actually was terrified me beyond belief and shoved me further and further into a state of depression and anxiety.

I ended up relenting and doing the thing everyone wanted me to do.  It was something that I would have, under normal circumstances, loved to do but was not in any condition to do as it required my traveling thousands of miles while I was still too scared, weak and sick to travel alone.

Interestingly enough, doing the thing every one expected of me didn't change the anger or hostility. It almost made it worse.

This person accused me of wanting to bring attention to myself by actually attending the event. My anxiety and terror at failing this person grew ever stronger, but at the same time I realized at a deep level something was bizarre and wrong.

The real problem, I sensed, was with me.

I felt emotionally blackmailed.  I was morbidly worried that I would lose this individual, that she would cut me out of her life.

I wondered, for months, what it was about me that so needed the approval of others so desperately that I would allow myself to be forced into an emotional vice and ignore my own best interests, health, and well-being.

I cried about this for years.

Every single day.

I woke up crying, went to sleep crying.

About how I had failed people, and how they had judged me, and about how unfair that had all felt, how completely powerless I was.

A firestorm of pain

Fire walker in JapanWhat I didn't realize was that during those years of crying every day, something else was happening.  A shift. A full-blown, top-to-bottom shift. I was actually healing by going through a firestorm of pain.

The hurt was happening for a reason. It started to move me out of the position of the victim.  Little by little, I was getting fed up with feeling powerless. I was tired of being scared of someone who I had no reason to fear.

In between the hurt and frustration and confusion, I started to stand up for myself in situations where I would have just shut up before.

I wasn't always successful or good at it, but I started to say things like, “I am equal to you.  I won't automatically subjugate to you on matters that are important to me. I won't accept feeling bad or wrong or inconsiderate simply because I disagree with you.”

This was a huge step forward because I was the person who wanted to keep the peace at any cost.

The relationship with this person became tenuous and tense, the kind where you spend a lot of time walking around on egg shells because you know that the shit could hit the fan over the smallest thing.

I had spent a lot of time not saying what I thought to her.  Like the entire time. A lifetime. Which should have been completely uncomfortable for me but wasn't.

It was what I seemed to do best – swallowing down my own opinion instead of owning it.

But whose fault was that?  Mine?  Hers?  Both of ours?  Neither of ours?

Maybe there was something else at play here. Something bigger, deeper, more meaningful.  Something that I would need to dive into and come out the other side of.

I began to think. Maybe there was something else at play here. Something bigger, deeper, more meaningful.  Something that I would need to dive into and come out the other side of.

A big, sumptuous pool of love that would carry me to a place of understanding.  Maybe that's what what I needed to dive into.

  • To get another perspective.
  • To understand the hurt and the rejection and make it right.
  • To move forward.
  • To stop being scared.
  • To be able to laugh again and to stop crying every day.
  • And to be able to do my work, the work I was put on earth to do — my passion.

Maybe, just maybe, this person was put in my path from the very beginning to hold a mirror to me so I could finally see what was real in my life. And to stop cowering around about it.

The events that precipitated the insights I've gained through this person whom I truly love could not have gone any differently than they did.

I see that now.

I see that I set her up as much as she set me up.

I had been a doormat for a very long time and that was not her problem.  It was my problem.

She had gotten used to a certain behavior where she could take the lead and I'd more or less agree.  Even when I didn't.  I'd stew afterwards and get angry and resentful but not say anything to her. That was not her problem.  It was mine.

I made myself small around this person because I was afraid that if I overshadowed her, she'd pull away from me.  That was not her problem.  That was mine.

The fact that she got hurtful when I tried to be honest with her was not my problem.  It was hers.

The fact that she judged me harshly was not my problem.  It was hers.

That she couldn't or wouldn't empathize or show compassion for me when the chips were down was not my problem.  It was hers.

I see this entire situation as pretty much balanced.  The way I see it, we both need to take responsibility if we want to move forward with a loving relationship that doesn't involve eggshells.

What pain teaches us

Diana's handsI will tell you the life lessons I learned from this person.

The first thing that I feel most passionate about was that I never, ever, EVER, want to make anyone feel the way I felt as a result of the psychic collision I experienced with this person.  I vowed, completely and with all my heart, to never judge anyone to the best of my human ability.

The second thing that I feel most passionate about was that I want to experience and feel compassion for every living thing, every day for the rest of my life.

  • I want to understand the hearts of others.
  • I want  to give them space to be who they really are.
  • And I want to help people.  Make them happy.  Open their hearts to see the good inside of them.
  • I want to create beauty for people and give it to them with my art.
  • I want to let my healing words mend their struggling souls through coaching and mentoring.
  • I want them to sit on the veranda at my inn in the Italian countryside and come back to themselves as though they were truly coming home.
  • I want to help people work out their struggles and come to a place where they understand what their work is and how they can embrace it fully.

These things, I found, are my work, and it means more to me now to do these things than ever before.

The third thing I felt most passionate about was that none of us EVER really know what's going on in the lives of others, or what other people are on here on earth to work on or work out for themselves.

We must have empathy for the positions and situations others find themselves in.

There is no “normal.”

There is no “right.”

I want to give people the freedom to be honest with me, and I want to empathize with and honor what they are going through, even if I don't completely and totally understand it.

I relearned all of these things from the pain I experienced in a very heightened way.  I “knew” them before, but I had not completely internalized them and called them forward in my life until I experienced what it was like to be on the flip side of judgment, compassion and empathy.

I don't know if there could be a more powerful lesson that one person could teach another than this.  I mean that with all sincerity.  Maybe it was part of her work here on earth to help me work these things out for myself. I know that I would not go back and change any of these painful events because the outcome is so rich and textured.

The most valuable wisdom that this person imparted in me is this:  there is a method in the madness. There's a plan and that plan is that you are love, and it doesn't matter if you get hurt and obliterated in the process of getting there.

There is a plan and that plan is going to take you to a higher place.

And that higher place is where you will transition from on the day you leave this earth and reunite with your higher Self. The more love you learn here, the more you take with you, the higher your vibration, and the more joyous your future.

The challenges that are put in front of us are there for a reason.  They are to help us understand who we really are and what's most important to us.

Seriously. I mean that. Don't step away from trials and difficulties.  They are there to ultimately heighten your humanity.

There is nothing like push-back to crystallize how you feel about things.

For awhile, you languish and don't understand.

You get mad. Hurt.  Pissed off.  Furious. You feel scarred and damaged.

Maybe you get that way for a good long while.

But then you could get so completely and utterly disgusted that you tear down the towers of anger you've built up and fall completely apart.

And while you're down there on the ground and the air is very still, you'll notice you're breathing, all by yourself, trying to make some sense of all of these things.

And you start piecing together your soul puzzle. The things that are important enough to you that you start to think about standing up again.

And maybe this time, when you stand up, you'll realize a little more who you are.

That you're love.

That you're compassion.

That you're empathic.

That you don't have to live in an angry place just because you've had to struggle.

You can live in a wise, beautiful, safe place with your struggle.  A loving place.  A place from which you can do your work with passion and joy.

And that every part of your struggle, every single blessed part of it, helps make you beautiful and whole and alive.

Your struggle makes you you.

Diana Strinati Baur, a recovering marketing executive, has found peace as an author, innkeeper, artist and creative coach.  She lives with her husband Michael and dog Max in the wine country of Piedmont, Northwestern Italy. You can find her writing, ceramics and bed & breakfast at www.dianabaur.com. Her debut novel, True Vines, was published in October 2012 by Gemelli Press.

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 28 comments
  • catherine

    Diana, as per usual, this post comes at the perfect time. I am experiencing the firestorm of pain. Everything you’ve mentioned seems to describe me. I thank my SO for showing me the wounds I have to heal. Love for myself will get me through this. Thank you so much.

      Diana Baur

      Catherine, i wish you a beacon of light as you come through this time. Please, please try to take care of yourself in the best ways possible as you make your baby steps towards peace and contentment. If I could hold your hand, I would.

  • Tucker

    Thank you for this honest, gritty and loving post. It has come at the perfect time for me. Blessings.

      Diana Baur

      Tucker, thank you for stopping by and reading the post, and I am happy that it comes to you at the right moment. Blessings right back to you.

  • Marley

    Love this – embracing the struggle and moving it to love, not fear.

      Diana Baur

      Marley, I am happy that this post resonated with you. Moving towards love sometimes feels impossible – but it’s like an optical illusion. Even though you think you’re not doing it, you are. You are. By allowing yourself to move through the firestorm, you do come out the other side.

  • William

    Wow I must say I really identified with what you just wrote, great great article! Myself am still recovering from a “firestorm” that almost costed me my life because I felt like I’ve lost everything. The tears in bed, loneliness, being misunderstood when you couldn’t participate, fear of rejection, fear of confrontation.
    What I feel like I’ve learnt from it is to never self-pity yourself, I had a lot of that before – the tears becomes responsible action today. If someone hurts you are there to confront instead. You are not supposed to be nice/people pleaser – you’re supposed to love yourself first and foremost.
    I still have that fear of rejection that I’m trying to overcome to be free but I’ve come a way in my healing process.

  • Diana Baur

    That’s one valuable lesson, William, to move out of self pity. Respectfully disagreeing with people is a learned talent for those of us who have hidden behind agreement as a lifestyle. It took me a long time to learn to say, “With all due respect, I feel differently about that.” … and then not self doubt myself back into misery afterwards. But somehow, our shoulders get a bit broader every time we manage to honor our own opinions and thoughts. All the best to you.

  • Jeff

    Hello Diana, You have great insight. I believe people come into our lives for a reason. To teach us something, to lift us up, and it isn’t till usually later, upon further reflection, that we discover what it really was. Sometimes it’s unbelievably painful……..I can feel it…. give max a big hug 🙂

  • Joy

    Thank you Diana for this great article.

    “The relationship with this person became tenuous and tense, the kind where you spend a lot of time walking around on egg shells because you know that the shit could hit the fan over the smallest thing.”

    This resonates with me, but gosh it is hard when it is your sister, and she is so defensive and does not allow you to have your own opinion without jumping down your throat. I have of course come to the conclusion that she is on her own “learning journey” like us all but if she was not my sister I would probably not associate with her. How to respond to this type of person? Joy

      Diana Baur

      In essence, Joy, she really doesn’t have the power to not allow you to have an opinion unless you give her the power. It’s very, very difficult to hold the line, especially with a sibling, but it’s really critical that she learns to accept you as an equal. And she can only do this if you communicate it to her in a way she understands – using clear text – “Please don’t interrupt me. My opinion is as viable as yours. I’d be more likely to share with you if you didn’t respond so aggressively. I am your equal, and would like for your to understand that.”

      Sticking with a specific *type* of dialog for awhile will work – but the trick is we can’t back off. We have to stay in a forward march, with our own boundaries very clear for all to see. We can’t let our insecurities cause us to fall back into being submissive and fearful. Know your truth. Say the words with love and empathy for who your sister is — but say them. Let her know who you really are. You might have to repeat words like this for a long time before your sister realizes that something has changed. But she’ll get it, and when she does, you’ll have a better chance for a good relationship on equal footing.


      Thank you for giving me so much hope. I married for keeps, but even if I wanted to I am unable to leave. Anyways…oh, geez. You suggested to the “e-mailer,” concerning her sister, that she say…whatever. Well, in my case, with this narrsisistic/misogynistic husband, I’ve tried delicate approaches to “stand up,” to nicely tell him how he hurts me, but I can only get a few words out when he screams, “…don’t START with me, dammit!” And then he flees. Literally, I cannot talk to him. I just printed some excellent “pointers” from a site on “Saving Your Marriage” and “Unhappy Marriage Signs.” Don’t know if he’ll read them (I highlighted so he can just scan it), but if not — well, I am going to stop believing him and do whatever I have to do to save myself. I’m losing it. I cry. He won’t let me speak. He doesn’t want to know why I cry because it’s probably “something ‘f’ed up.” He really feels he has NO part in this — I’m nuts. Thanks, Diana. Peace and Blessing Be With All Of Us. Lori

  • Diana Baur

    Jeff, yes and the pain does have a purpose if we allow the love to come with it. Thanks for stopping by. Max is the most hugged dog in Italy, I think 🙂

  • Maram

    speechless. It is as if describing what i was going through with “her” and realzing it at this time of my life when she is away and I am about to leave, too soon, once she is back.

      Diana Baur

      Maram, I am very happy it resonated with you and I wish you strength.

  • aross

    I have broken up someone special in my life, and it backfires me, Diana. i cried everyday since the break up. i am ‘crawling’ back to him but he won’t give a chance. i apologised. i made my self suffer. my parentss been worrying about me like i am a sick person. i don’t see living life with happiness ever since the break up. i know whatever you said above is to love myself first. but i blame myself for following that impulse to break up with him. no matter how harsh he turns out to be after the break up i still wants to be with him again. at this stage. i am on a brink of giving up with life. what should i do?

      Diana Baur

      Aross, I am so sorry you are in such pain. You’re in a very difficult circumstance right now, and I want you to get help with this. Although it might not seem so right now, life is a long, beautiful process, and your perspective will definitely change. But before that happens, you need support to get you through this extremely painful period. Don’t try to do this by yourself. Believe me, there is a beautiful life waiting for you after the pain. Please look into getting psychological support now so that you can see that gorgeous life waiting for you again. I send you the warmest energy possible.

  • Joy

    Thank you Diana, love your artwork, Joy

  • Diana Baur

    Thank you, Joy. I love making the art!

  • Robert

    My son has worked with me for years. He recently told me he wants to leave in three months. I was totally distraught, angry, and “mentally” downgrading him in my mind that he didn’t have the right skill set to move on. I haven’t talked with him about his intensions for several weeks trying to adjust and settle…

    It seems to always happen to me…every time I get near to paying off a major item in my business something happens…I loose a major account, the situation changes, someone leaves and event happens out of my control.

    This time rather than being angry… I’m just trying to quiet down and let go…

    It’s hard too let go of your dreams…

  • Diana Baur

    Robert, I am sorry that you are going through this painful time. From this perspective it’s not possible to know what this situation entails, but I do know that the relationship between parents and children is very multi faceted. Sometimes things don’t go as “planned”. But you know, when ever it feels like things happen to us in multitudes, I am brought back to the Buddhist concept that it’s what happens inside of us that determines who we are, not what happens outside of us. While sometimes events feel terribly unfair, we always, always have the choice as to how we react to those events. Always. I believe this is where empathy counts greatly. If I can put myself in the position of the person that seems to be “doing” something negative to me, what can I see from his/her perspective? A need for independence? To try things out? Like I said, I can’t know what exactly is happening in your particular situation, but wisdom and empathy dictate that things will work out as the should – for everyone. Blessings, Robert.

  • Cheyenne

    Oh wow! I could have written this myself!
    It resonates with me so deeply..thank you so so much for sharing this!

    Love, so much Love to you!

      Diana Baur

      Thank YOU, Cheyenne 🙂 Love right back to you.

  • Ellen @ need marriage counseling

    Awesome work Diana, thank you for sharing.

      Diana Baur

      Grazie mille, Ellen! 🙂

  • Allan

    @Barrie: Reading this piece of yours bring to my mind, a lot of personal struggles.

    Like you too, there was a time that I had to pass through one of the most challenging phases of my entire life.

    I was drained in all directions and at all times but I am very glad that today, despite all the troubles that I faced, I was still able to overcome the trials and tribulations.

    It is always heartwarming to read pieces such as these so that one will be able to appreciate the strength that always comes from within during such perilous moments.

  • A.

    What a great post, Diana! I really needed this. I have recently concluded the very things you did here so this review has been very timely!

    Indeed, there is no right and wrong. Humans should really get this. In their attempt to soothe their own fear and insecurity, they come up with outrageous things they think are right but are not. In God’s “eyes” these things do not exist. Humans need to classify things supposedly for their survival but this may do more harm than good.

    I have been through a lot in terms of obstacles and I still have to face many with lessons I learned on my own, as my parents weren’t too helpful in that department but I see now that they can only help me in the way they know how. I, too, have promised myself and the universe that I shall not judge anything anymore. Not that I did in the first place, but I understand that to judge is not good.

    So, I guess we should look adversity in the eye and not let it overpower us but instead celebrate it and celebrate even more after overcoming it.

  • Marilyn

    Thank you, Diana, for your insightful post, which i have saved on my ‘favourites’ and will re-read when i feel down. I am currently travelling through my firestorm, to do with my siblings. For almost 15 years now, i have endured their harsh judgement of me and their mean, nasty words as well as their deafening silence. I worked hard to understand what it was i did wrong and why they can’t forgive me and accept me for being human. I have been to counselling and been told i need to move on. In my heart of hearts, i know that there is nothing i can do to change what is. It has only just occured to me recently that i am not a bad person, it is their loss, that they so willingly tossed away their relationship with me as well as with my very loving, intelligent, and talented children. I cannot force my siblings to be anything other than what they are. I do not know how long they will continue in their ways, but i now understand that it could be they will stay their course and never step off the vengeful pathway they have chosen. I have to be strong not just for myself, but for my children. I wish to live in a wise and safe and beautiful place, though it is difficult some days. But i am focused and strong. I can do it. Thank you, Diana for your very helpful post. xox

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