I live every day in physical pain. The degree of my pain varies, but it is always present.
A headache on the right side of my forehead.
Neck and shoulder pain with joint and muscle tension.
Stiffness and pain in the upper and mid back.
In addition to this, I’ve also experienced hip and groin pain, waking up with unexplained bruising of the bones and skin, swelling of the fingers, locking of the jaw, a metallic taste in my mouth that makes me nauseous, a central nervous system that makes my whole body sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies every time I bend, stretch, or otherwise move around. Yes, I could go on. For paragraphs. But you get the point.
I wish I were exaggerating, but I’m not. The experience of pain in my body has been a daily occurrence for almost a decade. It has become my uncomfortable, exhausting normal.
The medical community couldn’t give me a specific cause nor could they provide me with much relief. I’ve tried to explain the pain away over the years – gluten sensitivity, low thyroid function, possible arthritis, autoimmunity – whatever I could say to myself to understand why, day after day, year after year, my body continues to hurt.
I did this until the day my daughter woke up, walked into the kitchen doubled over, and said, “Mom, I think my spleen is bursting.”
I took my otherwise healthy 20 year old to the emergency room. After a series of blood tests and x-rays, my daughter received the same diagnosis as me – we can’t find anything wrong. The doctor turned to me in frustration and said, “I’m sorry. This is becoming so common. People are coming in with extreme pain but the medical community can’t find anything causing it. I wish I could give you a different answer.”
He was frustrated, apologetic, and quite obviously perplexed as he relayed his findings. I, however, felt only relief and gratitude at his candor.
For me, this was a revelation.
I’m not the only one. I’m not imagining it. I’m not over-reacting. I’m not being a baby, or feeling sorry for myself, or using unexplained illness to opt out of my life. I’m not a hypochondriac and I’m not crazy.
What I’m experiencing is real.
The medical community can’t explain it.
And this doctor – unbeknownst to himself – just gave me permission to approach my pain from an entirely new perspective.
From that point forward, I choose to look at my pain not as a physical ailment to overcome, but as a Spiritual Guide enlightening my Soul.
Pain is an Awakener in the Spiritual Journey of a Soul’s life experience. It forces its student into the present moment like nothing else. There is no distraction or relief from chronic, physical pain save an extreme effort to care for one’s self like never before.
My chronic pain stripped me of my career, my home, my bank account, my gym membership and physically fit body, my comfort foods, my social life…
It left me with only one alternative. Personal, Spiritual growth.
I was forced to pay attention to myself.
I was forced to care about myself.
I was forced to make decisions in my best interests over the interests of others.
I had to rest.
I had to eat well.
I had to let go of stress.
I had to Grieve. Cry. Leave. Let it go. Breathe it in. Accept. Embrace. And Love.
I’ve had to acknowledge pain as a possible, life-long Spirit Guide.
I had to learn how to befriend my pain. To trust it enough to know it will always show me the most gentle, loving, kind way I can treat myself from one day to the next. I had to learn to appreciate pain for teaching me the difference between what I think will make me happy, and what I actually need to live a fulfilled and joyful life.
Befriending pain and using it as a Spirit Guide taught me Appreciation. Humility. Gratitude. And Grace.
It taught me to live differently. To love differently.
It woke me up – physically, mentally, emotionally, and Spiritually.
Pain taught me it’s goal is not misery. It’s mission is not to harm me – but to bring into my awareness the full reality of a life passionately lived – as an awakened soul who will remember this existence.
I turned Pain into the most powerful Spirit Guide imaginable.
If you live with unexplained chronic pain, simply know you are not alone. Know that the goal of pain is not to make you suffer endlessly with no purposeful outcome. Understand you are on one of the highest paths of love, growth, and Spiritual awareness you could possible imagine.
Then – give yourself a break. Take the much needed nap. Take care of yourself without worry or guilt. Be gentle to yourself. Be kind to yourself. Turn your pain into your most powerful ally. And know you’re going to be ok.