Forging Iron In The Furnace of Crisis

When a person experiences a life crisis, much of what was once familiar is no longer recognizable.What used to be stable is rocked to the core and the old familiar ways of living no longer seem to work.

I'm speaking not about the direst tragedies of life, such as the sudden death of a loved one, a brutal assault or similarly terrifying event.  These are "Big-T" traumas that threaten to a person's very ability to function and generally result in some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.  This is an entirely different category of pain deserving specialized treatment, and not the source of any 'life lesson'.  

Instead I am referring to "little t traumas", distressing events which are not traumatic in the classic sense but which can still rip apart the sense of comfort and stability you've come to depend upon.  Sudden job loss, the unexpected end of a relationship, a dire medical diagnosis, harm befalling someone you care about, the painful actions of someone you trusted (sometimes including the reflection in the mirror staring back at you) or some other spiritual, emotional or physical crisis can cause all of the assumptions you've relied on over the years to shatter, with the risk that they will never be made whole again.  The fact that these are not "Big T" traumas doesn't diminish the fact that they can cause intense pain and lifelong impairment. 

An intensely painful personal crisis is like a fire that burns away all the familiar landmarks of your life.  This often results in damage at the foundation of your deepest sense of self.  It's as if bent and weakened beams of iron have suddenly buckled under a weight they are not able to bear.

It's rare to get through such times of turmoil without exposing some aspect of our inherently imperfect emotional development.  A difficulty managing intense or conflicting emotions, a hidden insecurity that has been kept in check by stable circumstances, an unresolved past trauma buried like a land mine, or any of a large number of other liabilities and limitations at the core of our being may reveal themselves when times are tough.  And even when these chinks in our character are not particularly problematic, the impact of a life crisis can make them so.

But just as extreme temperature is necessary to melt and reforge iron to be straight and sturdy,undergoing one of the inevitable crises of life can temper the strength at our core.  The support and guidance of others is a solid "anvil" that is absolutely essential while such heat rages and the hammer blows are raining down.  Growing through difficulty rather than just surviving it requires the help of others who can be trusted.  This is not a time to go it alone.

The furnace of an intense personal crisis has the potential to ultimately forge a person's ability to support a much healthier, stronger and more stable life. The hammering will eventually stop, the iron will cool, and a new and better life will begin to e merge.


Atlanta sex addiction therapist Bill Herring also provides individual and relatonship counseling for a wide variety of issues.

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