The Secret Burning Thread

The Secret Burning Thread

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.

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2 Responses to The Secret Burning Thread

  1. I guess there’s one other aspect of pain…it makes me appre­ci­ate when I feel good. I guess that might be the child in me. I hated pain as a kid and was always glad to have it behind me. Actu­ally, the fear of pain was often worse than the pain itself.

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