Pain. There are so many of us suffering from pain that sometimes it is as if nobody escapes. Even so, in the contorting agony that pain brings, we have a very hard time thinking outside of ourselves at all. We are preoccupied with ourselves. We do not think about the others hurting or others in general at all. Pain does that – emotional and/or physical.
Penelope was preoccupied too. She had suffered and was suffering still. Peeling her thoughts away from survival during those times when, with teeth and muscles clenched, her body felt like a universe unto itself. Everyone outside of her were aliens she was able to visit occasionally. Watching her and hearing her describe how it molded her current person, I remembered the book by Paul Brand, Pain: the Gift Nobody Wants. (We mentioned this book before in our blog-post, “Emotions: The Physical Gift We Can Name.”)
When we are sick with Pain Syndrome, with symptoms seen in our emotions, behaviors and nerve language, it is hard to perceive what good can come out of bad. Saying, when we are in that ditch, that the sun is happily shining overhead is rude and boring. Especially when it is rhetoric. Change that rhetoric to insight, well that would then be worth friendly and interesting. That would be hope. There comes a degree of knowledge that hasn’t reached our sensory selves yet but sits in our intellect. We have a glimpse of the ark of the covenant, a promise, nearly prophesy in fact – we have a knowing that something good can come out of this.
This is why I thought of the work of Paul Brand, M.D. with the lepers. I thought that Penelope might want to know that there is something good that could come out of her bad if she were healthy in other ways, enough to receive it. If her senses could perceive it, her emotions, sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell could take in that information and deliver enough of it uninterrupted, what was promised to her would come true; past the pain that distracts and preoccupies.
It is as if this good that comes out of bad were like a runner in a war zone. Bombs are exploding. It is noisy even though hearing was taken out after the last gun fire. Dirt and sweat drip over eyes and into mouths and no one believes they will survive. And then the runner trips into our shelter and collapses still alive; still holding the message in his hand. Something good made it across a land in havoc and war and we know about it now.
I thought of Paul Brand, M.D., telling Penelope that her pain is her gift at that point of knowing, with that timing. Better than I could. She wouldn’t laugh angrily and give him a bad review on-line. She would hear him. “Something good is coming your way. You have hope.” In my imagination, Penelope would not hear Dr. Brand moralizing her experience – “You are good if you perceive your gift and you are bad if you don’t.” In my fantasy, Penelope would understand that this offering wasn’t intended to make her feel guilty for hurting. It was an offering of hope.
Not so easy to do, as it turns out, in real life. I am a very human psychiatrist without
much magic about me very often. But if I did…
Question: How do you give yourself hope when your senses don’t perceive it? How are you your own friend when you are preoccupied and distracted from that which is friendly? Please tell us your story.
Self-Care Tip – Be friendly enough with yourself to believe that there is something good that will come out of your bad. There is hope.
- When Children Live With Chronic Pain (everydayhealth.com)
- Victim to Emotions Versus The Friendliness In Accountability (friendtoyourself.com)
- The Purpose of Pain – part 1 of 2 (marcyda.wordpress.com)
- Pain is inevitable, suffering is an option (asterix98.wordpress.com)
- Joy & Pain (obediencewithgrace.wordpress.com)
- What does it mean for pain to be psychosomatic? (zocdoc.com)
- Pain vs. Suffering: A Necessary Distinction for Writers (insightsandobservations.wordpress.com)
- Abyss of Life. (vedna.wordpress.com)
- 7 Things Not to Say to Someone in Pain (pbus1.wordpress.com)
- You: Kearney continues diving through pain – RU Daily Targum (dailytargum.com)
- The agony…still waiting for the ecstasy (fibroprego.wordpress.com)