The gift of pain is healing…I did not make this up, but I think about it a lot. The slowing down that pain brings allows the injury to heal. Or, another way to think about it: if I pay attention to the pain, it starts to resolve. Literally, the act of attending to the pain, provides relief. In medicine the doctor taking care of you is called the attending physician. I think this is why: Attention is incredibly powerful stuff.
The pain itself is a very odd message. Physical pain, like my knee feels right now on postop day # 4 is like no other feeling. Parts that normally go about their business silently and obediently, start making a huge fuss. I can’t really describe in words what pain feels like. The text book use terms like unpleasant and noxious. Both true but not enough. I think it is the unrelenting part that is so amazing. Many sensations quickly die away in our bodies after the initial rush, but pain is slower to leave. Much.
Emotional pain is another thing completely. Suzanne Vega wrote a song in which a queen says that she has swallowed a secret burning thread…I think that is pretty close for me. Later in the song she says the queen is ashamed of the way her heart ached. Shame is definitely the part of emotional pain that is crippling. It rides herd on the pain, corralling it, and guarding it from the attention it needs. The shame leads to paralysis and that feeds more shame. Children, the expert feelers, if they have not been roped in by the toxic adult shame, are able to simply feel scared, feel lonely, feel pain. They pay attention to it and then move on. Instant healing. In fact, no injury at all. This is why it is good to find the part in me that is the child and learn from him. And be him.