Living in the moment – and pain


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/now-you-see-me/

Taking a liberty with this one. My superpower would be the ability to disappear pain, not just for me, but for others too. That way, I would not have to go through what I write about here – and nor would anyone else.

We are all encouraged to live in the moment, aren’t we? To jettison the lure of the past and the fear of the future and to exist in an endless stream of moments of now.

To be honest, I have always had deep-seated reservations about this – have instinctively felt it to be an over-simplification of something much more profound. Why, I ask, give us the ability to muse over the past and think about the present if we are then told firmly not to delve into either?

I do live in the present. Very much so. And that present is continuous chronic pain. Every second of every minute. Every hour of every day. I am not worrying about the future, or remembering the past; I am trying, moment by moment, to calm the savage beast of physical pain – and to convince myself, as each millisecond arrives, that my quality of life justifies a continuation of same.

To be told, by on-line memes, that I am somehow complicit in my own agony, that I am choosing to experience it, makes a bad situation infinitely worse.

Why on earth do we do this, fellow humans? Tell those who are suffering that it is a personal choice; that they have the power to stop it right now; that, by implication, if the pain continues, THEY are failing in will power or imagination or rightness of mind?

It distresses me deeply. No one, other than the genuine masochist, has any wish to be in pain.

The world has embraced Mind over Matter with a thoroughness which is both amazing and frightening. Amazing because of course the mind is powerful and infinitely mysterious and it CAN create miracles. But, there is a flip side to this easy philosophy we have adopted in recent decades: If you are not able to triumph over matter with mind, does that make you a failure? Beyond the pale? Not worth saving?

Sometimes I fear that it does – and that your continuing misery, therefore, becomes entirely your own fault. This worries me at several levels. People like me, with intractable pain of no obvious origin, are accused of clinging on to it (WHY?!), being self-indulgent, self-pitying, self-absorbed, yada yada yada!

The truth is that the most powerful Mind over Matter mindset, applied twenty-four seven, does not, and cannot, guarantee success; if it did, my books would be selling in their millions by now – and I would be, for the most part, pain-free.

When I have said this in the past, some people have said that I obviously didn’t really believe that I could ever be successful! And I am quite sure there are people out in the world who, reading today’s post, will find me slightly pathetic and weak of will, who will think, ‘You are obviously not doing this right. You do not believe you can conquer the pain…’

I feel that I should not have to prove that I can fight pain with my mind, nor be condemned if positive thinking fails. I should not have to feel that I am a lesser being because I have, thus far, been unable to find a technique for vanquishing pain that works for me. God knows I am trying to get there. I am exercising, meditating at least once a day, eating sensibly and attempting to think beyond the moments of muscle-crunching, roiling misery which permeate my existence.

If we condemn others for ‘failing’ in this way, what does this say about the true nature, and place, of compassion in our world? Do we actually give it lip service only? Apply it only to those who, by their strength of will, are deemed to deserve it? If you don’t put up a brave fight in the face, say, of cancer, does this mean that you deserve to die?

I am not ungrateful or mean-spirited. I have had some delightful times over the festive period: New Year’s Eve and Day, for example, and the night of my birthday – both utterly lovely.

But, for the most part, my life since Christmas Day has been one of unremitting pain: In my back, bosoms, ribs, stomach, hips, pelvis, left leg and left arm. Everything except the left leg has been tested in the past seven months – and nothing which explains this level of pain found.

I am sure some reading this will be thinking, ‘You should be reassured by this, you ungrateful moo…’ But the reality is this: The pain does not stop – and last night was so awful, so living in the minute utter hell, that I genuinely did consider taking my own life out of sheer despair.

I haven’t done so. Obviously. Or I wouldn’t be typing (painfully) this.

But here is a plea from the heart: Please do not condemn those who are in pain, or ill, or both (either mentally or physically) for not trying hard enough, for not applying sufficient will-power and bright thinking to their problems. The sense of failure this engenders can, in turn, activate the spiral of despair and make vulnerable people feel that they do not deserve continued existence amongst the mentally strong.

12 thoughts on “Living in the moment – and pain

  1. Julie

    .”The sense of failure this engenders can, in turn, activate the spiral of despair and make vulnerable people feel that they do not deserve continued existence amongst the mentally strong.”

    Don’t despair: no one who has experienced real chronic pain will claim that being mentally strong can help the pain. Ignore the ignorant. Let the arrogant be arrogant: they do not deserve to be taken seriously. Your pain is personal and you will cope in your own way. Don’t despair.
    Meanwhile, try to meet a few more hares on your way: they are indeed a blessing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “I feel that I should not have to prove that I can fight pain with my mind, nor be condemned if positive thinking fails. I should not have to feel that I am a lesser being because I have, thus far, been unable to find a technique for vanquishing pain that works for me.” and this “If we condemn others for ‘failing’ in this way, what does this say about the true nature, and place, of compassion in our world? ” I hear your pain and have seen up close and personal how unremitting, 24/7 pain affects everything – the mind especially. I feel nothing but compassion for your situation; and feel that you are completely correct you should not have to prove anything to anyone. Seems like our culture has gotten into the ‘proof’ mode all too much – with the results that by definition if you do not agree/are with/share the same situation, you are opposed/against/some kind of ‘enemy.’ Bravo for this post, for your stance and for willingness to reach out another day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t imagine how you do it without screaming at someone each and every day. With the minor aches and pains that come with getting older – pain in both of my hands, is it arthritis? and other things, I sometimes have to mentally prepare myself to just get moving in a day. I would also guess that what you experience physically and having to live around it also causes you a great deal of emotional pain on top. I hope that one day soon you will be free from this.
    I’ve also know people who, upon eliminating a giant source of stress from their life – emotionally/mentally abusive live-in relationship, – saw mysterious rashes and itches, and pains, and even excess weight fly right out the door. The thing is it’s just not that easy to do this and she did not consciously make the choice to end the relationship to eliminate the various pains and lose the weight, and this is an example of internalizing stress to the extent that it makes you sick. I’m not suggesting this is what you have going on – actually just sharing that because she was coming off as sort of a hypochondriac even though her maladies were real…..my point is that people say things and assume things without knowing your full story and certainly without having walked in your shoes….that’s one of the reason why blogging is such a terrific outlet for me –I usually find at least one person to connect with who gets it and that makes me feel so much better. Again, I hope that one day soon you will be free from all you’re experiencing so you can fully enjoy all of your future “nows.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. alienorajt

      Thank you so much for this kind, empathic response, C-Sweet. Yes, there are extenuating emotional circumstances (which I am not at liberty to share for now) behind at least some of my physical pain, and I suspect that the completion of the process will, eventually, bring some degree of relief. x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Have you tried breathing techniques? I have one technique that has worked particularly well for me. I slow down my breath a lot and I then visualise the area of pain while I breathe in deeply and then breathe out visualising the pain leaving the area of pain. I then focus mentally on the image of that area being free from pain. If you are a very colour dependent person, you can associate red with the pain and blue with the absence of pain and then visualise colour-coded. You would need to at least do it for 30 minutes for it to work and not beyond 2 hours or you would be too light headed.
    I truly wish that it works for you. May your pain dwindle down

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am sorry for your pain. You sound very much like a close friend of mine who has fibromyalgia. There is no denying her pain, and there doesn’t seem to be any particular cause or origin. She, too, feels the stigma of unexplained but unremitting pain.

    I wish I could fix it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Cara

        Ali – has anyone mentioned fibromyalgia to you?? I was diagnosed last May and what you’re describing sounds very much like it… You’ve got my email I think, happy to chat. I’m on a strict regime of expensive supplements, reformer Pilates and a diet that avoids inflammation. It has helped a lot, but flare ups are inevitable… Let me know if I can help xx

        Liked by 1 person

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