For a number of years, physical pain has been a regular companion of mine. I wrote this a while ago, but as I sit here in the midst of pain yet again, it resonates deeply. And maybe, it will resonate with you or someone you know.
Pain is so much more than it’s definition…a ‘highly unpleasant physical sensation caused by illness or injury’, or ‘mental suffering or distress’.
Pain is the first thing you are aware of when you wake up as you try and will yourself out of bed while working out which part of the body to treat first. It’s the grimace you try and hide when you feel a creak or twinge or pull on the simplest of movements. It’s the pills and potions you take hoping they will work, and yet sometimes avoid because even the side effects are too much to bear. It’s the countless doctors and treatments you pursue hoping that this one will have the answer, though they make no guarantees. It’s the tears that roll even after the tank is empty, and the tossing and turning at night trying to get comfortable, as futile as it may seem. It’s the financial cost and lost productivity.
Pain feels isolating and lonely because only you are in it. It is your reality. Though people walk the road with you, they don’t walk in your shoes. You try not to let it affect your life and relationships, but realise sometimes that is exactly what it does. It pushes people away when you want them to pull you close. It doesn’t just limit your capacity to do; it limits your capacity to be. And sometimes, to be honest, it longs for attention. To be heard and seen, even when no answers can be offered. It want’s to ask for help yet often has no voice. It is isolating, yet it longs for company; someone to sit and be, and tell you it is okay.
Pain has it’s own agenda. It’s limiting. It’s distracting. It brings shame in asking someone to do what you should be able to do yourself. It’s endless and often feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. And even when there is, it can still feel overwhelming. Like you are suffocating and drowning at the same time. Like you are struggling to breathe and don’t know which way is up. Pain can paint a gloomy picture on the brightest of days.
Pain is exhausting. Pain is unapologetic, relentless; it sucks you for all you are worth and sometimes even more. It is humbling, it is controlling. It sets your limits and often fees like it defines you. Pain sucks. But it is real.
And yet with it, come glimpses that sometimes only pain can see; as you let others be your hands and feet. As you let others respond in love…Your helpers, your comforters, your chauffers, your chefs, your cheerleaders. Pain will sometimes reveal the worst of you, and allow you to see the best of others.
For me, I take hope from a verse in the Bible that says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. Some days that helps more than others. But at some point or in some way, we will all experience pain. If that isn’t you right now, be grateful, and be patient, but be present. And if it is you, know that you are not alone.