Thrive Newsletter - Issue #32 - The Purpose of Pain
The difference between destructive and healing pain isn't the sensation; it's the ownership.
It’s been … a week! My diet is out the window, but I am back on the wagon today. The shingles have been rough since last week’s newsletter, so I have not worried about anything other than work and trying not to writhe around in pain. Yesterday and today have been better (areas are smaller), but what is left looks so much worse and stings if barely touched.
This battle with shingles reminds me that pain as a sensation is unpleasant throughout, but the pain has an essential purpose. Pain informs. And, if I listen, I become more intentional and mindful to steward the pain to mitigate damage and facilitate healing.
When I am in pain (physically, emotionally, etc.), it’s always a good exercise to determine whether the pain is a warning, destructive, or healing. It’s always good to take ownership of the pain instead of being run over by the process and hoping for the best.
A Journey Through Pain
I haven’t shared this with many people other than my doctor and Dan, but a few days before any sign of shingles showed up on my body, I was at CVS, and I saw a sign for the shingles vaccine. I almost signed up for it but was in a hurry and left. A few days later, I woke up startled after dreaming that I had shingles. I thought that was super strange. Two days later, the first blisters erupted on my torso's left side.
I am sure my body was already fighting the virus when I first saw the sign at CVS, and my subconscious was picking up on sensations happening to the nerve before I was consciously aware. The Universe and my subconscious were trying to warn me. These warnings worked because when those first signs manifested, I immediately made it my priority to get to the doctor ASAP. Even though I had never had shingles before, I knew what was happening before the doctor confirmed it was shingles.
So when the destructive pain came on like a storm, I knew it would have been much worse if I hadn’t gotten on that medicine as quickly as I did. The destructive pain was bad enough, and how quickly it grew was scary. But then it stopped growing and just started looking and feeling worse.
Today, however, I know the destructive pain has given way to healing pain. When I woke up, I noticed the destructive path was smaller but looked worse. However, knowing it is now a healing pain means I will soon be on the other side of this ordeal.
A Life Lesson
Many abuse survivors would probably relate to the destructive pain we endured and the consequences of that pain running deep over a long period. But, unfortunately, there is also the temptation to minimize or dismiss that destructive pain without owning our responsibility to steward the damage done to us toward healing. It’s challenging to realize that taking ownership of our recovery is necessary because no one else will and can’t.
Being intentional about looking at the pain sucks. But, to grow beyond it and become stronger and healthier, we must do so with clarity. First, we must take ownership of our lives and pain to get the support and help we need. Then, we get that help, and whammo, even more pain as we start to heal. Sometimes those old wounds must be cleaned out and reset for healing to begin. And then, the healing process reveals even more pain to acknowledge, process, and overcome.
But the difference is the pain is a healing pain, no longer destructive. Unfortunately, some people do not know this difference, and the destructive pain perpetuates itself outward toward others and repeats the cycle of abuse.
I hate the saying, “hurt people hurt people.” It’s true, but it’s also true that hurt people heal. Healed people bring, or at least model, healing to others. And the only way to do that is to take ownership of the pain we have or will experience and steward that toward healing no matter where along the process we are.
And before I end up writing another book along these lines… :)
Thank you for reading!
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