Pain, Pain Go Away


This article is about pain.  And bullying.  And how I think they are related.

I am writing this because of the ways I have heard people talk about their pain over the years.  Overall, I hear a sense that the pain being the problem at hand, the thing you need to get rid of so you may get back to the things you were doing in life.  I understand the role of pain differently.  Pain is your body’s mechanism of letting you know how your life is going.  Your signal to do more or less of something.  It’s an information relay system.  It’s brilliant when we use it properly.

Somehow people relating to their own pain reminded of a novel I read entitled Nineteen Minutes.  Author Jodi Piccoult takes us through the life of her son, who is the perpetrator of a high school mass shooting.  As it happened, I was moved by how much understanding I had for this 17 year old when he made this choice in life.  Given how many times he asked for help and how many times he was thrown back into the fire – by loving and ‘sensitive’ parents. In his mind, this was the best way he could take his ‘power’ back.  It was so compelling.

It has been quite a while since I read it, and what I remember is being taken through a story of a young boy’s [Peter Houghton] life, beginning with innocence and play, and then when school starts, he begins to get bullied, first on the bus, then more and more in school, loses his best friend, and each time he tells his mother, she can’t really hear what is happening for him.  She is doing the best she can, intends the best for him, and yet, repeatedly sends him back for more without offering new skills or ideas on how to do things differently.   She was so invested in her own story about how this all should be handled that she wasn’t able to hear his pleas!   The impact of that was devastating.

Are you bullying yourself?  Your pain, your symptoms, your emotions are your body’s only way to bring to your consciousness – to your attention that something is amiss.  Most likely, your body had been giving you signals all along, only in ways that you could not interpret, or that you ignored.  Something less than pain.  Think of it like this...your body is like little Peter Houghton saying over and over, please help me.  Yet we just tell ourselves that everything is or should be ok.  Or we take something to make those pesky symptoms go away, so we don’t feel anything at all, and then go right back to doing what has been making us sick or sad.  In this culture, feeling nothing is considered much better than feeling sad.  In other words, ignoring our own pleas.  Until our body gives us no choice but to listen...for example:  cancer, heart attacks, strokes, autoimmune diseases of all sorts, debilitating back pain.  Pain or diseases that immediately threaten our lives. 

Instead, I’m suggesting that you become more sensitive to your feelings, discover your needs, trust your body and respond accordingly.  Listen with a curiosity.  Treat your pain as an indicator that your body’s warning system is working perfectly, rather than an idea of failure.  For example:  If you eat something bad, and you get diarrhea or throw up, you may feel bad, but it would be much worse if your system didn’t have a mechanism to get the poison out.  Forcing our bodies to ‘hold it in’ would be significantly painful, and ultimately impossible.  It is with this same understanding and respect that all (or at least most of our ‘symptoms) could be treated.

In general, we are united against bullying, and would stand up for anyone who is asking for help.  This is a now famous video from Jonah Mowry:  which has brought many of us to tears. 

Please think about considering yourself, your pain, your feelings, and emotions with the same tenderness and care that you would a little child asking for help.  Please stop bullying yourself.