the full spectrum of responses

I’m glad to have this opportunity to look at very real pain in a variety of different ways in the real world. It is one thing to think about how I respond to pain, it is another thing to sense and respond in the moment. So I’ve had thousands of moments here now and I can say, I have a lot of different responses.

Sometimes I cry.

Sometimes I muscle through it and do ‘what i need to do’

Sometimes I relax into it (this is my favorite and seems to be the most impactful).

Sometimes I feel sorry for myself, and sometimes I feel I am such a burden on those around me I simply can’t ask for one more <seemingly ridiculous> thing. Seemingly ridiculous things like: can you come from across the house to get that water bottle that is 16 inches from me yet I cannot reach, and in the attempted reaching I seem to have aggravated everything¬†I’m trying to heal.

I work in this life with a single intent: to evolve. I believe our evolution is exactly like all of Nature’s evolution, towards greater expressions of love, freedom and complexity (which i understand to include relationship)… and with that: a story

Satan, too, was present as God created the world. And as God created and said, “This is Good.” Satan, impressed and enraptured by the Creation said, “Yes! This is good!! Let’s Organize It!”

And so it is with my responses to pain. I have a lot of them. Different responses at different times. But the one thing I am especially careful to not indulge in is the fear that the pain will last forever. Not because pain doesn’t last (because often it does) but because *everything* is in a constant state of change and to hold something out of that knowledge seems to me – well, quite frankly it’s too painful! Thinking “this will never end” is just about the worst thought I can have. I believe it’s what made the beginning of this disease so hard for me. “Will this ever end? Is this what my life is like now?”

To combat that particular train of thought, I try to employ curiosity. Knowing, foundationally, that everything is changing, surely the pain changes, too. Now I can get curious about the moment to moment changes in the pain… the style of pain (dull or piercing), the intensity of it, the size and shape of the pain area itself and how it moves through one or more parts of the body. What it feels like when I resist it and what it feels like when i relax into it. Where it goes.

So, what was with the story in the middle? I believe it is a source of my pain. Trying to categorize, contextualize, assign value… me trying to “figure out how I deal with pain” is not helpful. I deal with pain a ton of ways. Me noticing how different responses impact pain in different moments is far more instructive: but it requires an absolute presence. I can’t go back into “what’s the right response” from some organizational history. I MUST have the response that bubbles up in the moment.

Another story:

Showering is difficult for me under the best of circumstances. I get cold into my bones and it takes quite a bit for me to come back up to temp. So, I’ve never been too crazy about showers, but add in todays challenge (I should be clear: i’m significantly better today which is why I even attempted showering, but my left arm still won’t let my hand reach my face, which would’ve been helpful. My right arm had much better mobility, so i thought i’d give it a go) and I needed a nap when I was done.

Showers energize healthy people. If I were healthy, I shouldn’t need a nap after a shower.

But in order to become healthy, I need to respect my body enough to do what it needs to do in the moment, nap or no nap.

And what makes me think showers are supposed to energize me? They have literally never energized me, even when I appreciate the new sense of clean. I know several people who shower twice per day. That sounds like pure purgatory to me, but they love it (else they wouldn’t do it). So my picture of the appropriate response to showering is on one end of the spectrum, and their picture is on another end.

Neither of us is “right.”

We become “right” for the moment we do what is true for us.

And so it is with pain. I see the value of my various strategies for relating with pain, but that doesn’t make them “right” for anyone else but me – and really in any given moment even the best strategy may just not work. Life is such a dynamic force that as soon as we put expectation and rules along, i think we generally invalidate the purity of sensing and responding in the present moment – the only moment that really exists. Living here, and not in the land of shoulds or different, is the real prize, even when it hurts.

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