Imagine if you will a tornado following you around each day – for me I envision it sitting on my left shoulder similar to this picture. This tornado never stops spinning and the rate at which it spins depends on the energy that you feed into it. Some days it spins ever so slowly trying very hard to suck you in and gain speed by filing you with thoughts of pain, shame, guilt and worthlessness. Other days it takes you over sweeping you so far away from a version of yourself it causes you to act out of fear and anger – it consumes you. This is what it feels like to live with chronic pain. Each day the pain exists at different levels and there is a constant mental battle to try and come back into balance.
In a lot of ways I have lived with the pain for so long that it has become such a normal part of my day – I expect it to be there and I’m numb to the affect it has on me. The problem with this is clearly stated in one of my favorite TED talks by Brené Brown on the “Power of Vulnerability” she says…
“You can not selectively numb emotion – you can’t say here’s the bad stuff – here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment – I don’t want to FEEL these so I’m going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing your other emotions. So when we numb those we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness – we are unhappy and feel life has no purpose and it becomes a dangerous cycle.”
In order to truly heal from these many years of numbing it will take more than just a surgery and physical removal of my uterus. I have to work on changing the tapes that have been running through my head for quite sometime. Pain has at times been my scapegoat and I have used it to numb all those bad feelings floating around – I don’t want to play with my kids because I’m in pain, I don’t want to be “too connected” to friends for fear that they will ask questions that I don’t have answers to, I don’t want to be kind to my husband because I am filled with such anger toward this disease I would rather take it out on him than deal with it another day, I am feeling pain today and I am terrified there is something the doctors haven’t found.
I have to resist the urge to go back to the tornado that feels so comfortable and normal. I have to “re-write” the tapes playing over in my head to seek and find JOY in life again. The only way to do this is to accept that there will be many more moments of fear, vulnerability and yes pain in my life – there will always be some kind of pain physical or emotional circling around us. The tornado will always be present and spinning I’m just aware now of its full force and the damage that can be done – so when it swoops in to grab a nearby tree, I can protect my soul and heart before it destroys the whole house.