On Pain

I read this post by Ivan Cenzi yesterday. Excerpt:

I think we need to embrace grief, rather than just accepting it, we need to make it valuable. It sounds weird, because pain is a new taboo, and we live in a world that keeps on telling us that suffering has no value. We’re always devising painkillers for any kind of aching. But sorrow is the other side of love, and it shapes us, defines us and makes us unique.

My post is in no way intended to be read as a response to Ivan’s post. Rather the post inspired me to consider my relationship to my own pains. And to word-vomit said thoughts on WordPress, apparently.

[Blogger’s Note 20FEB17:

I unpublished this for a few months because I figured it was TMI on a number of fronts. Looking back, it definitely is. It’s also definitely inaccurate on a number of fronts. Not in the intent, but rather I don’t think my abilities of expression were adequate in expressing said intent. Frankly I don’t think that my abilities are presently capable, either.

So I’m republishing it in hopes that A) someone actually enjoys reading it, and B) I can improve upon/from it eventually.

Best.]

I’m blocking this into two big categories (because lists are great okay): Good Pain, and Shitty Pain. Puppies, Kittens, and Rainbows, and Hellfire.

Sacrifice of_Isaac by Pedro Orrente 1616
Little note: Pedro de Orrente’s The Sacrifice of Isaac (1616) is one of my favourite paintings ever. It doesn’t really have a lot to do with this post, but I’ve been looking for a good excuse to add it to a post. “I just want to!” is a good excuse, right? http://www.wga.hu/html_m/o/orrente/isaac.html

Puppies, Kittens, and Rainbows [1]:

Pain is often vilified under capitalism as the Ultimate Evil in no small part because it keeps people from performing work tasks effectively. This has definitely contributed to the rise of the “pill for every ailment” situation which we see today. I Get Why This Is Bad.

But I mean #NotAllPain

I’ve kind of spoken about (or at least pretty obviously alluded to) my relationship with BDSM on this blog before. That relationship exists within the frame of my asexuality, though, which is kind of important to note (I guess).

Regardless: pain is often a part of my experiences within BDSM.

This is paradoxical, at first glance, for anyone who knows about my concerns with chronic pain. To me it makes perfect because integrating pain into a scene allows me to be in control of the sensation. Now my logic here is probably flawed, but the positive effects of my BDSM relationships on my general well-being really can’t be denied. In being allowed to experience both suffering and love at the same time I find that I’m better able to discern when my body is telling me “Something Is Wrong” vs. “Fuck You For Having A Uterus.”

The Pains I Choose allow me to grow confident in my ability to control my body not only in a scenespace but elsewhere as well. Kind of like exposure therapy, if exposure therapy didn’t make you feel like shit at the end of each session. The way I figure it: if I’m able to withstand the physical and emotional effects of a shit tonne of adrenaline in a controlled context enough times it should help me to withstand the same shit tonne of adrenaline outside of that context as well.

Hellfire

:

Now obviously my day-to-day pain doesn’t allow me to grow. At every turn it keeps me from being my best self. While my suffering is an integral piece of the lens through which I view the world, it’s by no means a useful piece of that lens. It shadows the things I enjoy [2] in fear, and just generally makes me cranky and awful to be around.

Case and point: on Sunday I experienced one of the worst breakthrough pain episodes of probably my entire life.

Despite taking what was effectively double my prescribed dose of painkillers [3] it took almost 5 hours for the pain to subside. At about 2 hours and 40 minutes in my mum had to effectively carry me from my bed to the bathroom and back because my legs couldn’t support my weight anymore. By 3 hours in  I could barely speak, I spiked a fever, and my entire body started shaking [4]. My parents tried to take me to an ER, but by the time we had reached a hospital around the 5 hour mark my pain had (thankfully) subsided.

I normally believe that I’m pretty dang good at controlling my emotional reactions, but there’s no way to control the emotions which surround being rendered incapable of speech and movement by pain. There’s absolutely nothing positive that can possibly come out of inexplicable, intense suffering.

tl;dr:

While I know that there are situations wherein pain allows me to grow, there are just as many times where it’s depriving. Pain as a Taboo has its place in some contexts, but putting suffering at odds with love seems strange. In my experience it’s far more useful to consider suffering and love as two of many points in a multi-axis system. While they’re often apart, they’re by no means mutually exclusive.


[1] Please know that Twitter has once again supported my questionable life choices. Thanks, ya’ll.

huh

[2] Including, but not limited to: handcrafts, video games, writing, and school because I can’t sit for too long; Pokemon Go, keeping a job, and walking my dog because I can’t stand for too long; playing with my nieces, entering and exiting places by stair, and kneeling in general because if I compress my hips it makes my feet go numb; etc ad infinitum.

[3] I had a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday and did speak to my doctor about it. We’ve agreed that this was the correct thing for me to do in that situation but that we’re not going to increase my regular dose because Sunday was definitely an abnormal situation for me.

[4] This was all from “just a period cramp.” Endometriosis is awful. My doctor figures the fever and shaking was from the adrenaline that would have had to been running through my body by that point.

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