Monday, March 7, 2011

The pain difference

{Sheen has Tiger blood. I have Advil blood.}

It seems there is not always a clear-cut difference in this world between the various types of pain that can nestle themselves into our lives. We lament about our physical pain, we proclaim that someone is a pain in the butt and we feel the pain of heartbreak--but at what point do the lines between our hearts and our heads become so blurred that we forget the difference?

It's easy to forget the pain, physically speaking. You can recall that something hurt, but the memory is distant and fleeting; it's impossible to remember actual pain. But what if your pain is real, ongoing and constant? Do you become so used to being in pain that you forget what a pain-free life feels like? What about a broken heart or the feeling of a painful loss? That pain--the hurt that hits us deep within our souls--is often easier to remember, more familiar to us in some way because we remember exactly how it feels. We are all too familiar with the moments and objects associated with our pain, causing it to sometimes return in familiar waves when we least expect it. A piece of clothing, a familiar smell, the words of a friend; all too quickly, they bring us back to a painful moment in time.

But what if you are experiencing pain in both body and spirit? The lines can become completely blurred when we feel pain physically that evolves into a living reminder of the pain we feel emotionally. It's as though our heart and body have joined forces in a vast conspiracy against us, working in concert to destroy our spirit entirely. That moment, the one where our pains crossed paths and became one, is a time that quickly dissolves into the past. While we were there to witness the union, to experience the joining of forces, it isn't something that is particularly familiar to us anymore. It becomes foggy with the passing of time.

I struggle both inwardly and outwardly with pain. Monthly physical pain, debilitating and excruciating in its very nature, has plagued me for many years. The handful of doctors I have visited over these years cannot explain my pain away with surgery or medication; one even suggested I simply "learn to deal with it." I typically wash it away with entirely too much Advil, but it has taken on a new meaning for me in recent years because of what it has come to represent in my life. An outward reminder, if you will, of my inward pain. My inability to conceive is painful, in that hurts-my-heart kind of way, while my physical pain continues to hold me captive in a prison of my body's own making.

It's hard to move past that pain when it feels like the other pain refuses let you go. Sometimes, it's almost as though my heart begins to heal and my body screams "Not so fast!" and pulls me back into that place where I'm still broken inside. My body, the one that allows me to do so many things I love with ease, is the same body that tortures me too. Your body just doesn't want to work properly, my reallywonderfulbutpregnant doctor told me last week, when I come in for another ongoing problem that is equally a pain my lady parts as the ones I started with.

But why? Why would my body just decide it doesn't want to work properly? Couldn't it just not work and then leave me the hell alone? Why add the insult of torturous, physically painful reminders to round out the invite list to this party? For some reason my body, the one that I treat with such kindness, has betrayed me. Because that's just what it wants to do. Really?

More than anything, I realize this: pain is complicated. The physical, the mental--their combined power cuts me much deeper because they ultimately leave me feeling weak and exhausted. Pain has a way of doing that to you; really cutting you to the core of yourself, testing your spirit in ways you couldn't imagine. Urging you to keep pushing, to continue trying, even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts. Which makes me wonder: is all of our pain there to teach us something?

Perhaps we're in pain because our body is telling us something. Or, because God is trying to teach us something. There must be a lesson in here somewhere.

So, I continue on with both of my pains because we have to learn to live together. It's the only way. They have grown to be familiar, the pain that tears through my body and the pain that plagues my heart, because they are so tangled up in each other that I no longer know who is who. It's just too messy and complicated to figure out which pain belongs in which box; it's easier to just let them exist together for now. Knowing, in that bright spot in my heart, that I won't be in pain forever.


Leontien said...

I thought long and hard about writing a comment, but i would take up far to much room here in my little comment box. I just think of it this way, it can always get worse. I know that is not very positive but it helps me push true. I deal with actual pain and mental pain since i have been diagnosed and i just don't know what to tell you...

i write funny stories, and people seem to enjoy that and that makes my pain less. or at least for a while anyway...

Thanks for sharing

Kerry McCullough said...

I'm so sorry you're going through all this. It really doesn't seem fair that you should have to go through physical pain on top of the emotional stress, like a constant looming reminder of all the hardships you're facing. You have a great attitude, knowing deep down that you won't always be in pain. That's what will pull you through!

Anonymous said...

I know.



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