Today’s Reason: Relief

Today was the first morning in 63 long days I woke up without pain. Wow. I’ve been down this pain path many, many times before; I knew yesterday’s epidural would provide immediate relief but I had forgotten just how much constant pain altered my demeanor. I feel like myself again. I feel weightless. I feel free. (Cue the applause!)

Nevertheless, this is a condition I must continue to manage, a second spine surgery is likely. When faced with chronic pain, I will do anything for relief- I will take the slew of prescriptions that turn me into an extra from the Walking Dead, I will take a big ass needle shoved into my spinal column, and yes I will take another major surgery. Anything that promises even a sliver of relief from 24/7 pain, I’ll take- I think you would too.

Relief comes in many forms, just as many as there are types of pain. Aching, excruciating, shooting, stabbing, tortuous, heavy, harrowing, burning. Whatever the flavor, be it physical or emotional, finding relief therein has been the most challenging things I continue to combat all these 48 years of life. Currently, it is physical pain: the pain I can acknowledge with a simple, “It hurts here.” That emotional pain, however, isn’t nearly as easy to pinpoint.

It just occurred to me that being a Pain Expert isn’t something one aspires to be! What a bummer/ blessing that I can say with 100% certainty that when it comes to pain- physical as well as emotional- I am an authority on the topic. “Write what you know”, as the cliché goes… pain is unfortunately exactly what I know.

As I have mentioned prior, throughout these months of my Yoga Teacher Training program, our guru SC has encouraged me to share the story of my abusive upbringing as a way to help others who have gone through the same. Similarly with my physical injuries (including this recent bout), SC has shown me that these issues greatly inform my path as a yoga teacher and I have streamlined my focus towards injury prevention and trauma recovery as a result- through healing others, the healer is also healed.

The first 16 years of life I suffered at the hands of my alcoholic and drug addicted parents. They beat me whenever the feeling would strike it seemed, my world punitive, and I never knew when the next hit would come. They abused me verbally as well, even when they thought I was out of ear shot I overheard my mom and dad say, “Laura is such a burden! She is so stupid and ugly, who does that kid think she is?! I can not wait until she is out of this house and out of my hair! I never wanted her in the first place!” And I was only 10.

Typing that leaves me in a puddle of tears, even today.

In my youth, relief from emotional pain came in the form of school and friends. From elementary to middle to high school, I joined as many clubs and activities as time in the day would allow in order to be out of the house as much as possible. And when I was at “home”, I read and studied constantly in an attempt to stay as far away as I could from their reach. Only recently have I overcome the panic that would wash over me upon hearing footsteps behind a closed door- as a child, I never knew what was going to come through that door, at any minute someone could burst in and start the assault.

Relief in the form of education, socializing and exercise are outlets I have always leaned on as they afforded me caring relationships and feelings of succor my parents never provided. Yet, that has also gotten sticky- my female relationships specifically have often been wrought due to my emotional neediness, paranoia, and fear of rejection- all those years of abuse taught me how to read emotions as a way to predict my parents’ actions and as an adult, I can tell when anyone is in a mood even before they are aware they are, I can aptly put words to my emotions, your emotions, the room’s emotions. I can tell people how they are feeling and why in a heartbeat- a trait that must be used wisely. As a smart man once told me, “Truth clears rooms.” That which I honed in on (my emotional intelligence) also left me alone a lot. Very few people can appreciate and accept direct honesty.

Each painful instance I have encountered, I have faced head on. I sit in the pain, feel every inch of it out, asking myself what is my role here, coming up with a plan for relief. Every single time. And every single time, I’ve survived. Moreover, I’ve flourished. My life now still includes physical and emotional pain, all the damn time it seems, and my ability to be honest about my feelings (even when I don’t like the answers) compels me to conquer each and every hurdle.

The relief I felt the day I stepped foot off a Greyhound bus and onto a college campus far away where mom and dad couldn’t hurt me anymore was one of the best feelings in my life. I was finally physically free. The emotional issues left behind remained and it is still my life’s pursuit to find relief there too. My parents have both died so I am, as I always was, left alone to deal with the Trauma they inflicted but that’s okay- I’ve always been my own best friend when it comes to pain.

The relief I felt upon waking this morning made everything clear again. Dealing with this chronic physical pain, I lost my sense of gratitude, compassion for myself was scant, my appreciation for life disappeared. Now on day 64, the pain has abated and all of that yummy juiciness of life I embrace is back! Similar to the emotional pain, while the true problem/ injury is still in there, my plan for relief is infinite.

I am one strong woman. This, I know. I am grateful for the pain. It has taken me 48 years to see that my external battles and internal struggles have always lead me straight to the answers I seek. It is beyond punishing to hurt- I understand those depths- yet it is pain (or perhaps the avoidance of it) that informs our path to comfort. Only when we truly look at the pain in all its annoying glory, can we find within the route to relief.

Today, relief but tomorrow, who knows? So I’m taking today as a gift, with a smile on my face a deep love in my heart for all that I have overcome and all the potential that lays ahead.

To try to avoid pain is to give too many fucks about pain. In contrast, if you’re able to not give a fuck about the pain, you become unstoppable.” – Mark Manson

4 thoughts on “Today’s Reason: Relief

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