Years ago, when I was still fairly early on in my journey with chronic pain, I started a very rough and honest blog about my experience. It was beyond therapeutic; it saved me from some of the darkest and troubling thoughts that, more often than not, felt like they were consuming me whole. My writing was raw and jagged. I didn’t hold back. I didn’t try to dilute it. Obscenities were not bleeped out. I didn’t edit it. I didn’t proof it. I just let it pour and pour and pour a little more. If any entry felt too sensitive or enraging to post publicly, I simply clicked the small box marked “do not publish”, and I allowed myself to be fine with that. It didn’t matter if anyone read it (in the end, I had people reading my writing from various states in the US, all the way to parts of Africa, Australia, the UK, Germany, Turkey, and a handful of countries in South America). Some people commented; most others just remained passive readers. It was comforting to know that others were reading and, perhaps, finding some peace in knowing that they were not alone in their journey. But, to be honest, it was never about the others, it was just about getting what was rattling around in my head and putting it out into the void.
Still, there was humor to it. One could still find “me” in my writing.
I noticed that was important. I wanted to be sure that I didn’t lose myself in my writings. That blog was proof that I wouldn’t let the pain take me by the hand and separate me from myself. I was still there, underneath all of the tears, aches, moans, and fist-pounding scream sessions.
A lot has happened since that blog: Three surgeries. A graduate degree. The death of my father. Meeting the love of my life. Two more surgeries.
I had thought that I was done with writing about my journey. That I had said all that I needed to say. Yet, I still find the need the write. But it’s different now; something has shifted. I want to write about living with pain, emphasis on living. I want to connect with others who are also learning to live alongside their pain, rather than living inside of it.
For those of us who live with chronic pain or illness, or who love someone who does, we know that it never really leaves the body. Pain has a lasting impression. Its imprint can bruise. Its imprint can scar. Its imprint will leave the body forever changed.
But none of us are immune to pain. Pain can also save us. It’s our body’s mechanism that reminds us that none of us are immortal; we can break, burn, rip, and tear. Pain can also remind us that pleasure exists, and that feels good!
Pain reaches beyond the physical body. It can look like a son crying at his father’s hospital bed. It can sound like a heart breaking. It moves us beyond measure.
Pain can teach us.
We just have to be open to learning.
Pain is one of our greatest teachers. What has pain taught you? Let me know in the comment field below. I always appreciate hearing from you.