Monday, March 28, 2011

The Problem with Pain

I'm awake. It's one-thirty in the morning and I'm awake. In pain, but only the average garden variety. Hormonal headache. I almost view it in a friendly light when it keeps me up like this. Lots of good thinking and praying happens in the quiet and dark.

Of course, I could do without the pain.

Or could I?

My writing group has been talking a lot about pain the past few weeks. Not many of us care for it. But pain is good. Right? It really is. It tells us something is wrong, that we need to pay attention to something. Sometimes pain can be managed, but can't be fixed. Sometimes it can barely be managed. But most of the time the pain points to something that can and should be dealt with. And not always by us directly. Sometimes a professional needs to pinpoint and fix the source of pain.

My daily headaches, for instance, were tension headaches. They were trying to tell me that my life is stressful and that I was holding the stress inside too much. That my posture wasn't necessarily good. That I needed to cry and laugh and emote more in general. Sometimes specifically. Then a chiropractor came along and helped fix it. Yay! (That doesn't mean that I no longer need to emote - only that I'm now working from a place where I'm not fighting uphill to do so)

So I've been thinking about pain, not just in myself, but in others.

I think maybe I attract people in pain. Emotional pain. They can sense it in me, maybe. Yet another purpose my headaches serve? Heh. Once upon a time I did one of two things - I either pushed these people away, or I allowed them to dump all over me. I took on their pain for a bit, then pushed them away anyway. Both bad reactions.

I'm learning to respond rather than react. Now I tend to hold a severely hurting person at a slight distance, yet still be inclusive, friendly. I try not to shut people out or draw too close immediately. What I've found is that people in emotional distress have trouble trusting. So if I push them away, they are validated in not trusting others. And if I let them dump, THEN push them away, it's a far worse validation.

I love hurting people. I know what hurt feels like. Very much. I also know I can't fix anyone. And I can't be everyone's best friend.

So I wait and watch and listen. And stay nearby the whole while. Little bits of the trauma spill out. Eventually trust is built, given. Eventually the whole story can come out. And I don't run away or push away.

The other thing about people who are needing emotional CPR? They can be scary, off-putting. It frightens the people who may be able to help them. But see, the scary people, the ones who are protecting themselves, are sending off the same kind of signals that my body gives off when something hurts. OW OW OW OW OW. It's obvious.

I'm not a doctor. Of any kind. Just a mom. So I do the mom thing. I stay nearby. I hold their hand. When they settle down enough to let me get close, I look at the boo boo. I listen to them cry. I might kiss it and make it better, which is nothing magical. Or I might recommend a real doctor.

Listen to your pain. Take time to listen to other people's pain. Really listen, not fix. It's almost always instructive. Builds character. Might even change someone's life. Might change your own life.

I know it changes mine.

Until I write again ...



Mental P Mama said...

Very thoughtful...and I do believe people can bond over their pain. Sometimes it doesn't end well either...I hope you feel better today....

Trisha said...

Just one question - do you love hurting people or do you love people who are hurting already?

I hope the pain ends soon. No matter how good it is . . . it really isn't something fun to deal with.

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

Feel better Flea!

Karen Deborah said...

I think that pain is the human condition. Everyone is hurting over something, physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. Our calling is to serve and give to others.
Pain is the gift nobody wants. My witching hour seems to be 3:30am. I wake up then a lot. I have been having a lot of pain, more than I thought a human could take without morphine. But God...He has ways of bringing hope and help. Read "One Thousand Gifts," it will change your life. You don't get to push me away...I know where you live. HA!
I'm jealous of your writing group. This post by the way is some very good writing.

Leenie said...

Our own problems teach us compassion for others. It sounds like you have learned a LOT. The hard way. Hope you can find something to ease those headaches. But I admire the wisdom that your pain has taught you. You're priceless, Flea.

Pearl said...

All the best to you, Flea-Flea.

Myself, I have my mental pain coming out in some interesting ways. I have no physical reason, that the MDs can find yet, for my right eye swelling shut on a daily basis. Coming up on three weeks of this stuff. Why? Perhaps I can no longer "see" myself doing something?

I wonder...

In the meantime, sounds like you've figured out some things about yourself. I like that. But I'm sorry that you're hurting.


Egghead said...

I agree that pain can be good on one level for if you never felt pain you wouldn't appreciate feeling good. Hope you feel better.

Debbie said...

A "get you to thinking post" for sure. I know I don't emote enough, whether it be laughing or crying. I have entirely too much empathy and carry everyone around in my head and heart.

This was good and I have been thinking along these same lines Ms. Flea. I hope you feel better soon hon :)

Snooty Primadona said...

You know, at every funeral I've attended they always talk about how the deceased never complained about anything. I'm beginning to detect a definite trend here. I'm pretty sure complaining about our aches & pains is the road to enlightenment. Or something similar thereto...

Jillian Rose said...

I think people in pain are attracted to you because you have the gift of healing. In fact, the first time I met you I told Derek that I sensed that about you. Ask him if you don't believe me :)

There's this air of care around you. People feel relaxed, almost too much so, and at ease in your presence. A lot of people go into medicine for the money and they don't have the gift, just the brains. Some people have the gift but modern medicine is too complex for them, and they give up. Other people have it and use it, right where there are, in motherhood or Bible studies or loving on teenagers and kids who need hope. I think you're that kind. God uses you to heal people.

I love this post. It's so true that those in pain need a little more and I also agree that we should be cautious, but still fully love them. Thanks!