Thoughts on pain

 

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the concept of pain. I’ve lived approximately the last half of my life in chronic pain. This has been due, in part, to car wrecks, horse related injuries and then deciding that my 5’3’’ 100 lb body should be able to handle wrestling dogs, some that outweighed me, for a living. There may have also been a heartbreak or 20 thrown in there too. So, what is pain? Here are a few things I’ve discovered as I’ve spent the last eight years researching it from multiple angles. I invite you to decide for yourself if any of it resonates with you. Feel free to take what does and leave the rest. I like an idea I once heard, where perspectives are like a buffet. You have the choice to take what you like, leave the rest and not be upset that someone else enjoys an offering you don’t.
 
The definition of pain by Merrium Webster:
1 :  punishment the pains and penalties of crime
2a :  usually localized physical suffering associated with bodily disorder (as a disease or an injury) the pain of a twisted ankle ankle; also :  a basic bodily sensation induced by a noxious stimulus, received by naked nerve endings, characterized by physical discomfort (as pricking, throbbing, or aching), and typically leading to evasive action the pain of bee stings b :  acute mental or emotional distress or suffering :  grief the pain she had felt at those humiliating words — Morley Callaghan
 
Noxious. That doesn’t sound good, does it? Let’s see what the dictionary has to say about that one:
1a :  physically harmful or destructive to living beings noxious waste noxious fumes b :  constituting a harmful influence on mind or behavior; especially: morally corrupting noxious doctrines
2 :  disagreeable, obnoxious this noxious political scandal — H. L. Ickes
 
One thing that hit me right off the bat was how our language can give us a clue to the deeper meaning. I said that my pain was “due” to x, y and z. The first definition is punishment and penalties of a crime. So, is it possible that our minds, and therefore our bodies, since our brains control the central nervous system and the output of neurochemicals that create sensations, register our perception of being guilty of a crime as pain? If we are caught speeding and given a ticket, for example, is there not a a fine due? What if you are guilty of a crime you had no way of knowing you were committing? Or even worse, you felt that you had committed a crime, but felt you had no way to pay the fine?
 
How often does this happen when it comes to interpersonal relationships? When you cross someone’s boundary or push an emotional button that you didn’t know existed, thereby stepping on an emotional landmine, so to speak. When it comes to being a law abiding citizen in terms of judicial laws, it’s relatively easy to know how to stay compliant. Laws are written and published, though they tend to change often enough that it can sometimes be difficult to keep up. It’s not so easy when it comes to interpersonal matters.
 
To start with, each of us is given a different rule book, depending on the family, town, country, religion, nationality, etc. they grew up with. We are taught that there is a right and wrong. But in most cases, I believe it’s much more accurate to say there is a lot more to the story. Look at the political divide in the U.S. now. People can have completely conflicting views on a subject, yet both feel they are right and the other person is wrong. Bit of a catch 22, huh? Is killing wrong? Most would agree that it is. And yet we send soldiers to kill people all over the world. That’s different, many rationalize. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. It really all comes down to perspective.
 
So, if we are all playing by different rule books, looking at things from different perspectives and having various subconscious woundings we often aren’t even aware of, it’s easy to see how we can so easily hurt one another, intentionally or not. To make matters worse, many of us, especially men, are discouraged from feeling, let alone sharing their emotions. That can translate to physical pain.

I will offer more thoughts on this in the future. I hope you stay tuned.