The Construction of Pain

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves . . . Live the questions now. Perhaps you will gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a young poet

As a very small child, my body and mind were nearly erased of feeling through the tragedies I encountered.

Comfortably numb.

But, it’s not so comfortable, not really. If you hold your finger over a match, you are supposed to feel the sting of your skin burning. The problem with early, consistent trauma, is that your mind literally learns to block feeling – the pain.

I was left on a strange kind of auto-pilot for the better part of my life.

What we witnessed here was a tragic adaptation: In an effort to shut off terrifying sensations, they also deadened their capacity to feel fully alive.

Losing your body, losing your self, body keeps the score – van der kolk, m.d.

I did have the awareness that I was living at a fraction of my capacity. I used to refer to this state in me as, “no love in – no love out.” I was keenly aware that this wasn’t a good way to live but I had no means by which to change it.

Seeing your problem, without a solution, is depressing.

I remained in a terribly abusive marriage as a result of this numbness. I scarcely saw myself. How, then, could I even begin to see my children’s pain?

Chronic neglect, rejection and painful situations in my childhood forbade me from living. I could hear, see, breathe and eat but I lived all of that without the visceral connection to any of it.

When I’d wake up at night with debilitating leg pain or a nightmare my mind could not interpret, I would go into the bathroom, sit on the toilet and dissociate. I could see myself up on the ceiling looking down. This was a gift I’d learned to give myself.

The only understanding I had as a child was to remove myself from my body in any attempt I could find.

This saddens me today.

I’ve not yet arrived with full integration back into the comfort of my body. Comfort in my body is something that is very foreign to me. In my early years, my mind was used not to discover facts, but hide them. My body was something I needed not embrace.

It is like I have lived two lives, in this one life.

Everything I once knew in survival, I’ve had to learn to undo. That is not an easy task. Beyond that, I’ve learned that this task of change continues even today.

For now, I will focus on finding myself deeper and stronger than I did the day before. I want to learn what my body is telling me, honor it’s requests and take good care of it.

My mind is something that I have forever been thankful for. It helped rescue me. Now, I want to rescue it and let it be free to dream, sing and rest.

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