Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Pain and Memory
I have had a pinched nerve in my shoulder for two weeks. There have been times when it was so painful that I merely decided that my existence was Jed+ pain, a new animal. Once accepted, I was able to function much better. Memories of past ailments made it hard to get by at times, because they carry such trauma that they invade the current error in your body and add to whatever bothers you, the fear of pain getting worse is what makes it difficult to go about your business.
They say a burnt child is afraid of fire. I try to avoid obvious dangers, but sometimes pain is the only route to solving a larger issue. Emotional pain, which resonates every day depending on your history, carries so many stories that can be referred to easily like looking up an entry in your own personal encyclopedia. Some memories are embellished but i believe that's just a way for an individual to take a closer look at their trauma and learn to live with it, the largest of these being the realization that no one but our parents, are our parents.
Avoiding pain because of painful memories can lead to long bouts of denial and ultimately more suffering than if one accepts that pain is, if not a friend that warns you, at least a fact of life which should be dealt with when it happens, in order to be less tense which makes everything worse. I'm not talking about terminal illness, where the pain is unimaginable, I'm all for drugs to help those whose pain I can't relate to. But living with a pinched nerve, annoying as it is, is not something which one should allow to color their day.
The terror embedded in one's psyche never disappears, the memories play them selves out with different endings which make one feel satisfied, but often behavior is repeated. When you finally dull your memories enough you will find yourself acting less like a burnt child afraid of fire.
I almost drowned in a riptide a few years ago, and the memory of it still shocks me. But I have no fear of going back into the ocean. I am careful, but I don't assume the same thing will happen again, just because I didn't like it. Pain is a warning, I was told as a child, that something is wrong. In that sense it is a friend that prompts you to investigate further.
Overall, I think pain is not meaningless, even if it has warned you to fix a problem which might cause more pain, it also creates empathy, sympathy and living with it when it takes time to get better, makes one learn patience. Also, if you ever drift into a state where you're not sure if life is real, physical pain will correct that in short order.