A challenge in “Princess Bride” rather than a fight to the death it would be a fight to the pain. The description stayed vivid in my mind. The implication is death is preferred to pain and pain must be avoided at all cost. Through my life experience I learned that isn’t always true. When I had cancer, I experienced intense pain to remove the cancer. The pain was preferred choice to the disease eating me up. Immunization shots are another example of a small amount of pain to protect from serious illnesses. Every child tries to touch a hot stove, a small experience of pain cautions them the dangers of stoves. When sewing, a sharp jab from a pin is fair warning to be careful handling the machines and sharp pointing things used in sewing. Exercising I tend to over do things, the pain in my body from working out too long helps me to regulate my exercising safely. Pain teaches, cautions and protects in different situations.
Counseling was a painful revisiting past trauma and experiences. I remembered events and felt the unprocessed pain all over again. I understood that part of the process is cleaning out old wounds which can be a slow and pain filled process. As I shared my experiences out loud, the pain indicated an abuse or trauma was at the source. Emotionally processing didn’t happen at the time of the events happened, I was too busy trying to survive. Now as an adult, I felt processed and worked through past hurt. I was amazed to realize that unprocessed pain is as acute and difficult as at the time of the event. Storing hurt drains energy and does nothing to get it out of my system. If a past event keeps coming to mind and I feel hurt by the memory I look into it and find out what abuse, boundary violation or possible source as to why it is still painful. During counseling, I figured out that events coming back to mind over and over I missed the point of what happened. I needed to get to the source of the problem. Counseling helped me to sort through my thoughts and resolve those problems. Remembering past hurts is a difficult process to go through but so worth feeling free to remember without feeling hurt, afraid or angry.
For me, pain come in two parts. There is the physical tangible experience. Poked with a pin I feel it immediately, it hurts. This type of pain makes sense. I can say, “See this is where it hurts and this is what hurt me.” I remind myself that I can use medication to block this hurt but it doesn’t resolve why I was hurt. It wouldn’t make sense to poke a pin in my hand and leave it there then take aspirin to stop the pain. However, at a young age I was taught to tolerate pain. I had stomach problems and I ignored it or covered it with medication and ended up in the hospital with a serious ulcer that did extensive damage on my insides. The doctor asked me, “How long has your stomach hurt?” As long as I could remember but I was told that I was complaining and it didn’t hurt. I needed to trust my own senses when I feel pain. I learned that most pain medicines are designed to block our ability to feel pain, not to heal the source of the problem. Sometimes we know the source of the problem, like when I had cancer surgery and there was no point feeling the pain. Pain meds were my friend and made it possible to sleep and heal. The second component of pain is emotional. This is much trickier. If I looked at a hurt and said it hurt, it did. The more I said it, the more it hurt. I watched this with other people too. Focusing on a pain or painful experience and saying it hurts over and over intensifies the pain. Now, earlier I said that in counseling I revisited past painful experiences. I needed to acknowledge that painful events happened but dwelling on the same event over and over without processing the emotion causes more pain. I was blessed with a counselor that believed in visiting events, acknowledging they happened and processing what I felt about it then move on. Let it go means no longer living in the past. At times, he would remind me that I needed to look at my past but not invite it into my present and put it in my living room. This is where distractions and redirecting my thoughts can ease pain. It can ease physical pain too. I took a drawing class at the same time as my cancer surgery. During the recovery process I kept drawing. I was in awe when I realized that focusing on my drawing reduced my pain to the point I reduced my medication I took for pain. Dissociation can actually help me block my physical pain as well as emotional suffering. Unfortunately, it also blocks love, happiness, and all the lovely emotions, too. I now use it with caution. My counselor taught me to address both parts of pain both the physical pain and the emotional counterpart. Pain is an important attention getter that points out where a problem exists. Healing is more than passing time it involves acknowledging, accepting, and finding new ways of living. Healing is a long on going process. I am thankful to my counselor that taught me how to go through this process of acknowledge, accept, resolve, learn, and move on to new challenges.