Founder’s Story

Dear Visitor,

My path to healing has not been a straight line—it never is, nor does it end. Healing is not an endpoint; healing is a way of life. It requires one to embrace the constant cycles of growth and contraction.

Before opening to healing, I was shut down. I lived in a state of doing and reacting, but not feeling and being. This coping strategy was insidious, stemming from early childhood trauma and being a deeply sensitive empath without tools to functionally integrate my emotional body with my physical body in a healthy way. Repression, or fight or flight is a natural reaction when feeling threatened or unsafe. It is very possible to become stuck in that state and to be unaware that there are other ways of being. We label this discomfort with words like “anxiety”.

I spent years pursuing success and validation in the world by building things: houses, businesses, infrastructures. Some of those endeavors were successful and garnered applause, others were not. I relied on outward achievements to define my value. Perceived failure sent me into unrelenting self-judgement and violent self-critique.

When my feelings of alienation and disappointment climaxed, I wanted to make a change. To pour that energy into something meaningful. I started reading about alternative healing modalities. I was captivated by the aspects of self-agency present in eastern philosophies and practices such as meditation, mindfulness, breath work, folk herbalism and plant medicine. These paradigms of healing differed greatly from Western constructs around illness.

These new ideas sparked curiosity and hope. I was struck, however, by the inaccessibility of these ideas and tools. In part due to cost, but more strikingly due to cultural mores. We are saturated with quick fix propaganda and disempowering consumer messaging, as well as a symptoms driven diagnosis and treatment model. There is a lack of attention to root causes and the connection between the emotional body and the physical body.

I was tired of the condescending "expert voice". I wasn't impressed with our model for higher education. I wanted knowledge directly from honest accounts of other people's experiences. People with nothing to gain, but connection with other people who are suffering and wanting to heal. I wanted to create a container with no social filter or inauthentic self-promotion. Instead, the opposite. Let's subvert the villain into the victor by humanizing trauma, which illustrates our oneness. I was likely inspired to do this because I wanted to prove to myself that I wasn't alone.

It worked. What started as an externalized concept looking into pain from the removed space of inquiry, has evolved into a beautiful expression of my struggle to accept myself. This journey is reflected by the mirrored experiences of ENDPAIN contributors. Whether someone is writing about grief, shame, or abuse ultimately they are writing to process through difficult emotions hoping to find a sense of inner peace, self-acceptance, and self-love.

ENDPAIN has been an exploration of the lives of others with a desire know myself. After soliciting and eventually receiving a steady flow of reflections from people from around the world, I began to view myself and my history differently. Rather than feeling isolated and lonely, I started to feel connected. My traumas and sorrows became less shameful, more human, and even beautiful. Through the voices of experiencers, rather than authority figures, I learned about loss, humility, love, and abandonment. I learned that vulnerability and emotional complexity are central to strength and power.

ENDPAIN is a safe container for processing pain in the world. With this tool I have been able to confront my lack of safety and the lack of space I've felt my whole life. Unearthing those negative emotions liberated me to alchemize the power of my emotional intelligence and energetic awareness. This liberation has allowed me to experience a state of grace, the space where the individual and collective consciousness meet. It's a space of total acceptance, pure love, compassion, and equanimity.

ENDPAIN is a love letter to myself and to all of you. It is my expression of love for the deepest and darkest parts of myself, those spaces that are poetically reflected back to me in the personal narratives contributed by our community. I am eternally grateful to all of you for revealing to me the imperfect/perfect that lives within each of us. May ENDPAIN always be a space of grace for any and all in need of nourishment. May all beings everywhere rest in the truth of their own innocence.

Love,

Alison Hersel