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When the Pain Feels More Real Than You Do

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Living with pain day in and day out, it can feel like we begin to recede into the background and become less distinct, like a ghost self in our own life. Pain takes up more space in our consciousness than many other things, or, at least, it takes up a very primary space in our awareness. We necessarily spend a great deal of time and energy on dealing with our painful condition, treating it and taking it to its appointments and therapies.

Taking a Backseat to Pain

Added to that is the habit many of us have of speaking about our painful conditions as if they have a life of their own. We talk about my pain, my disability, my symptoms. This is natural, since they are so close to us, so demanding.

But it can feel like we are taking a backseat in life to our pain. As if pain is in the driver’s seat and our doctor or therapist or pain medication or whatever modality we’re using to try and heal is riding shotgun, and we’re relegated to the backseat, hoping we can get a word in edgewise.

It’s understandable, but it does feel a bit weird sometimes, that our practitioners seem to have a closer relationship with our pain, our condition, our illness, than they do with us. That’s their job, I guess, but it can add to the feeling of being secondary in our own lives.

Which leads to a growing feeling that the pain is becoming more real, and more primary, than we are.

Reasserting the Self

This is when, despite our low energy and the awfulness of how we’re feeling, we need to find a way to reassert ourselves as the primary Self in our own lives.

Pain necessarily demands a lot from us, but we also need to find ways to be us too. Maybe we can only handle doing it in small ways, but that may be enough for now.

Like reading a poem. Or listening to incredibly beautiful music. Or meditating on photos of ourselves in health and just breathing that in.

Not as something we have lost, but as something we still are.

Allowing the inner Self the space to express. Making a drawing. Reading something light and funny. Watching comedians on YouTube. Doing something, anything, that reconnects us with us.

And probably on a daily basis. Just one small thing every day. Collecting colorful stones. Buying ourselves a flower. Asking someone to bring something beautiful. Asking someone to read to us.

Maybe a fairy tale with a happy ending.

I’m Still Here

Is this a fairy tale, you may well ask? I’m sick and in pain and you’re asking me to find pleasure somewhere? Yes, I guess I am.

Because you’re worth re-discovering.

Because, despite pain’s apparent primacy, you are still here. And I think it’s important to announce that to yourself.

I’m still here.

Because life isn’t all about the pain, even if it seems that way sometimes. There is a place, maybe buried under the layers of discomfort, but still, it is there, that is the You of you, and you can draw from that place.

Will the pain go away if you do that? Maybe not, but you will most likely feel better in other ways and that, too, is important.

Originally published: April 5, 2018
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