I’ve dealt with chronic pain a lot in my life. Events that led to ongoing physical pain and or discomfort depending on the situation. I have fake teeth that cause me pain depending on the situation. I have chest pain. I also had five years of chronic irritation from a skin tare that nearly made me give up on life, but I was able to heal it by (essentially) going on adventures with people in the outdoors, in nature, going to places, concerts and festivals that specifically ‘spoke to me’ emotionally, events that ignited my passions. Believing that FUN was still possible in my life and that the pain would not be an obstacle. The pain convinced me that the life i wanted would no longer be possible. So i stopped really going for the things i wanted in life. and ironically that ended up giving more reality to the pain, making it hold me back a lot more then it actually needed to. I think everyone that has some kind of long term chronic pain has to face this conflict. Does my life still matter? Can i still do the things i want to do? Do i need to ‘abandon’ my dreams, or is part of that dream still possible?
It was difficult to move beyond that skin irritation thing, but i did, it began in high-school, but then in my mid twenties, I began having chest pain (related to Lyme’s Disease) and dental pain from an operation, both around a similar time. And this was intense, the chest pain was shot and intense, the dental pain was ongoing, effecting my conversations and passions. there was also a bout of chronic exhaustion. making it hard to work. it was a whole different kind of beast. and once again people told me it was “all in my mind”. i had celebrated the healing of my former chronic pain, i was ready to give speeches and like ted talks lol about the obstacles i had overcome, about the story of how i thought i would never live without pain again, but i had found a way to.. but this, this time i wasn’t sure i could heal what i was now facing.
I remember having dreams about the skin irritation pain where it used to be located in my body back around the high school days, dreams about being consumed by it, defeated by it until i felt hollow inside, as it had been back then. i didn’t understand the meaning of these dreams for years. that was something in the past, something i had overcome.
Over time i realized there were still similarities between the two or three different sources of chronic pain i encountered in my life. this new pain felt insurmountable, but i began to belie that maybe the dreams were telling me it was more related to the old pain then i thought, that i could heal it the way i healed the old pain, but it would mean a kind of deep ongoing acceptance, hitting the wall, and then just finally accepting the reality and not fighting it, as i had finally done before. i had grown attached to the idea that my life only had that one major obstacle to fight and overcome, and i was happy to have finally made peace with it, i didn’t feel there was room were these new sources of chronic pain… but when I applies the same method to it as i once had before, i realized there was hope for a similar kind of healing.
Something I’ve noticed many times over the years of my life… being a person who has survived Lyme’s Disease among other things, dealt with long term chronic pain:
Thinking itself can lead to pain in the body. If thoughts and worries surround the pain, this can have a way of ‘growing’ the pain to nearly unlimited degrees. It took me years to even notice this. It’s scary really. This doesn’t mean you are “imagining the pain” as many people have no doubt told you in our current society.
this satire cartoon by David Firth speaks to me on many levels.
“It’s all in your mind.” they will say. Or they will say it in a kinder way, yet ignore you all the same, parents, doctors, maybe even your friends. The solutions they offer will feel off topic, like they are subtly or overtly just telling you to get over it. That is belittling and minimizing way to say things… and yet it will be said to you a lot anyway. What did the doctor say “Everything’s fine?” “OK then, get over it.”
Pain is a battle the hardest battle. This doesn’t mean your mind has ‘unlimited’ potential to over come any obstacle if you just change your mentality. Yet you can’t simply win in life by ‘eliminating’ bad thoughts, that can be even worse, you just have to bring the focus to something positive. I have learned to be kind to myself, and it has helped to bring back part of the old me.
If you have experienced pain.. say you had some kind of life shattering injury. or maybe something truly strange and hard to understand, like skin taring in sensitive areas, some kind of food sensitivity that causes pain, anything really, has lead to on going physical discomfort in your life, and you start to feel afraid the pain will hold you back from doing the things that matter in you life, as i have, that fear of the pain, it’s an electro-chemical response, it can very easily go into your unconscious habit. but you can become conscious of it if you so desire, if you have reason to be. it is only natural and fully understandable to fear a life of pain. yet i have noticed that fear. It pumps through the body, you brain and nervous system is wired into the physical muscles in your body. If you fear having pain in a particular area of your body, your nervous system tells that area to ‘tense up’ it doesn’t matter where they area is. Inducing stress in that area, juts from the fear impulse in your heart being sent to your brain, being sent to the physical muscle through the nervous system. (there is some debate weather the fear pules originates in the mind or the heart, but that is not really essential right now.) I feel it as taking place in my heart, the physical organ, thinking all the ‘worry’ originated in my mind has often held me back, searching and seeing for errors in my ‘brain’ that were never actually really there. I find that any kind of choice one makes often originates as a pulse in the heart. The brain may automatically be involved in this process (like the way your heart automatically pumps blood), but for many of us, we humans will experience it taking place literally in the heart. And you can change the way your heart responds to thinks simply by noticing it. It doesn’t really require and words or directives from the mind or the brain. Just by noticing your heart, and what you are responding to in your physical environment, your heart starts to change the way it responses, the ‘instinct’.
There are many things that cause this kind of ongoing micro pain, that should be small, yet because it can last your entire life, it becomes very distracting, like really fucking distracting, and doctors don’t seem to understand it, so that just makes you look crazy. i have dealt with this multiple times in my life. people will often tell you it is “in you mind” and you can power through it. however that is a rather of ‘harsh’ interpretation of something, a kinder truth. kindness heals.
When infinite thinking
Can induce worrying
Can lead to infinite stress
Can actually induce sensations of real physical pain in any part of the body your attention is focused on
The only thing really left to trust is the feel in your heart.
Even logic and rationality just become a boundary to the flow of the energy vitality river of life.
Yet when the river takes over life heals over days months and years. it is easier to see that the things i thought were rational back then were the fears.
Often the mind has gotten in my way. I try to move forward in my life by experiencing a feeling that “everything is OK”. Experiencing the goodness of life is still here, It is something I do over days months and years. It isn’t really a choice I can make with my ‘brain’ or a ‘bit of information’ my mind can ‘know’. The flow of life’s energy is so experienced based. the body heals, on a cellular level, when we learn to stop controlling and knowing everything with the mind. It’s like stepping into a whole knew realty. old mental assumptions around the most basic things start to let go, we question what society and others have told us, even what our own feelings and senses previously told us about the world. we start to feel that a greater happiness is possible for us, even in spite of the pain.. it takes practice and habit, experiencing day after that things can change. I think many of us experience this struggling. Or society is very ‘knowledge’ based, reinforcing that we memorize and regurgitate logical factual study based information from an early age, knowledge based living is reinforced all the time. Many of us never learn how to really, experience life, through feelings and emotions, to be in nature, feel safe and relaxed around groups of people. we don’t learn how to awaken or more basic animal self. Ironically that raw animal self, that carnal emotion, loving self, is stronger and more attractive then the brainy part of ourselves that has all the answers, the statistics the facts. Society makes us focus on the words, yet people just want to feel happy at the end of the day. What is attractive to others is also that which is most heeling for ourselves. the feelings. getting into the hart, and remembering not to get too warped up in the mental projects, the mind analysis, during scary situations and circumstances.
Time has a way of changing things. Healing things. You can spend years with the awareness that you can’t heal… as i did. then i spend a few days trying to go for what i want anyway, and it feels like a conflict, there is some hint of progress, but then i start to doubt again weather really I can heal. that is where time comes in. I apply the believe that i can heal over time. It’s different from waiting to heal. yet it is natural. I’m not forcing myself to do anything. I’m just giving myself permission to enjoy life again, when the fear told me the pain was too much and i no longer could do that. Slowing bringing back the things I used to love and do.