I don’t like pain-killers, but I do confess to having them in my house.
The reason I say this as a confession is that some of my friends, who will remain nameless here – but you know who you are – do not let things like this cross under their doorposts. While I seek to find “natural ways to deal with pain”, the truth is out, I do sometimes reach for a quick fix to my pain. There. I said it. I am not a purist though I talk a good talk.
These ankle stress fractures are teaching me a lot about listening to pain vs. denying pain. I have had to notice where and when I numb pain, which has trickled over into more areas than just my physical pain.*
When I injured my ankle this past March, I was already two and a half miles into my run. But I could NOT ignore the pain any more.
The many levels of pain denial
- Ignore – pushing it away because it’s inconvenient
- Silence – shhhh, don’t be the needy one
- Pretend – this isn’t real pain
What is pain really? Webster’s defines it as “A discomfort caused by injury…” But do we allow pain to talk to us? And if so, what do we hear?
Well, usually I hear something like, “Get back up, make it happen, are you going to give into this pain?! Come on Becky, be better than that!” Somehow I equate listening to physical pain as a sign of weakness.
While I don’t know where this false message first got started in my life, I have way too many examples of how quickly I have gotten up, ignored discomfort and learned to numb both emotional and physical pain with
- switching on the TV
- reading emails
- one too many glasses of wine
- surfing the Internet
- checking my phone
You get the idea…
Numbing the pain seems easier
Daily I work with people looking at stress-fractured sexuality and I know that the quick fix of denial results in wanting to push away real pain:
- expectations of a marriage partner
- conversations about sex
- separation of sexuality and spirituality
- volatile emotions that seem out of control
- choices of infidelity
- impacts of pornography
I get it – ignoring real pain is intoxicatingly tempting, in fact I can see it so clearly maybe because I know how to do it sooooo well.
But what does listening to this pain look like? Who can we trust when we cease denying what is very real?
Last March, it was an old dear friend of mine that tenderly picked me up off of that floor, ignored my frustrated profanity, drove me to the ER and even laughed at my insistent attempts to prove that I was ok.
She walked along next to me in the pain and chose to calmly and firmly speak the obvious truth:
“Beck you have a stress fracture. So stop it!!”
While I would like to say this was when I experienced a profound place of freedom, I can’t. That would be lying. Instead, this was one marker on the road to healing.
So what could it look like to allow pain to tutor us to health? Could pain have something good to teach us about sexual health?
We might need to learn to walk in a new way. What might that look like?
* God is always about more than just the obvious.