When You Can't Remember Life Without Pain


Do you ever wonder what the absence of something feels like? It’s common for people to describe a symptom to others by using descriptive words to convey it:

“My stomach ache feels like pins and needles with a dull ache akin to a pressure.”

“My headache is a throbbing feeling behind the eyes that pulses like something is hitting it with a hammer on the inside.”

We can feel other people’s pain when they describe it to us so vividly. We can take those words and imagine what it must be like, if only for a moment. But what about the absence of pain? Can you really truly imagine what that might feel like?

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of what it would be like to live without pain. And it’s only then that I realize it’s been so long since I’ve been free of it that I can’t possibly imagine what it might be like. Words such as peaceful, calm, and blissful – they don’t do it justice. That doesn’t convey a feeling.

It’s strange, isn’t it…It’s so easy to feel other people’s pain, but yet we can’t feel or even imagine relief for our own selves. I imagine the lack of any pain might scare me at first. I think if I was suddenly given that gift that I would panic, or be on standby for the storm to come that I feel sure was lurking close by. Even now on my better days I am keenly aware that it is only temporary, and I’m very in tune with the fact that sooner, rather than later, it would be back. The storm is lying in wait, and after years of living in this cycle it has robbed me. It has robbed many of us the ability to imagine a life without it. It’s silently placed a fear in our hearts that when we achieve it, it could so easily be taken away. The joy and euphoria of good moments are slowly chipped away by our minds, stealing little pieces like a thief in the night.

That what a chronic illness can do to it’s victims. It goes after that fragment of the soul; the piece you have when you are a child and still inquisitive, naive, and look at the world like it’s a big safe place full of wonder and enchantment. Somewhere along the way of growing up we lose that deep inside of us. But I believe it’s still there as adults, hidden among all of life’s baggage. And that’s the part of our soul that makes us survivors when the bad times come. That’s the part that keeps us going. It’s the hope and wonderment of a life that can be lived carefree; free of being dictated by pills and schedules and dietary restrictions. It’s the dreamer inside all of us that gets us through the rough patches.

I vow to take the bliss of a good day and hold on tightly. I vow to stop and take a moment to really experience it, absorb it, memorize it. Every nuance of the day, every small way it makes me feel. I vow to breathe the moment in, let it envelop my soul and examine what that absence of pain is like…What that sensation really is. And then I vow to keep that moment locked away, clutched in my heart where no thief can take it away. Because that’s what will make me a survivor; that’s what will get me through the next wave of the storm that is lurking, just over the bend.

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