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Answering the Questions My Chronic Pain Asks

Sarah Anne Shockley
Watercolor painting of a woman.

After one of those nights when I shift around trying to get comfortable, but each new position feels worse than the last, I ask myself, “What is this all for?”

Which leads to a whole bunch of questions. What is pain’s ultimate purpose? I mean, sure, there’s a physiological reason for pain most of the time, but is there something beyond that, something with a deeper meaning or higher purpose that will help me make sense of why my pain won’t leave?

What if pain is the hand that pulled me back from some dangerous precipice? It’s uncomfortable, sudden and shocking even, but maybe it saved me from something worse. Maybe it kept me from going further down a path that would lead to even less health and well-being. What if pain is my body’s last resort to get my full attention?

Maybe pain is the only way I’d slow down enough to take a good look at myself and my life. Maybe being in pain was the only way I was ever going to really change.

Related:With Pain as a Constant Companion, Dropping a Spoon Makes Me Cry

If I look at what pain has demanded of me, it makes some sense. Pain asks me to look inward, to be in my body, to live in the moment, to take stock, to re-prioritize, to slow down, to let go, to simplify. I resent the fact that pain forced me to do these things, and I would prefer to have chosen them on my own, but I didn’t.

So is pain pointing me toward a renewal of spirit, a renewal of life? If so, then pain has become a major course adjustment in my life when I needed it most.

It seems that part of my healing is learning the messages pain brings with it. I’m learning to re-engage with life on different terms, more health-giving terms, more self-honoring terms, more going-at-the-speed-of-well-being terms.

So the questions become: How is pain asking me to change so I can heal? What is it pointing toward? How might it be pointing toward a different life that, for reasons I may not fully understand, could not be possible without having gone down this painful path in the first place?

Related:When Chronic Pain Means You Just Can’t With Other People’s Problems

And to find that new life, I have to listen to myself, listen to my body and yes, even listen to my pain.

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