A Surprise "Ending" to Agony – Part 2 of 3
One all important experience occurred on a day off from work, when my pain was so severe all I could do was lay on my bedroom floor in agony. I think I was laying there for over an hour, trying to position myself in such a way that the pain would perhaps be less. It seemed nothing I could do was working. It tried all sorts of positions, both physical and mental, enduring, feeling forgiving, crying and even begging God. Maybe that helped.
After laying there for a while something occurred that illuminated my whole understanding of pain of all sorts, both physical and emotional. Suddenly, as I was lying there, the pain just stopped bothering me. Or rather, I stopped reacting emotionally to the pain. No, I didn’t go numb, nor was I even trying to ignore it, yet my mood became totally peaceful, unconcerned, and almost happy, as if there were nothing wrong. The physical pain itself had not changed at all, and was amazingly just as intense, yet I felt no distress or anguish. Perhaps I had somehow just stopped trying to do anything about it, having exhausted my efforts in all other directions, although it wasn’t apathy, surrender or passivity.
What happened? Looking back all I can say is that I had stopped complaining about it or interacting or fighting it. As I (will) write elsewhere, I have come to understand, from long observation, that all negative emotion, including agonizing over physical pain, is a deliberate action, not a “natural” reaction as some are fond of saying, which is hoped and believed to bring a remedy from someone else. It can be automatic, as many people live their lives as if unconsciously re-acting automatically to stimuli rather than consciously choosing to act.
Pain, anguish and other negative emotion is essentially a cry for help or mercy. Either you are asking for someone to help or defend you, or you are pleading for mercy from your attacker, or both. However, if one could operate on a purely logical, rational basis regarding pain, understanding this would make it possible to simply not react to it emotionally and to be able to function even cheerful while still feeling the physical pain, even without medication, including during surgery, which some are reportedly able to do. We have heard of yogis and other “dare devils” of physical stunts who undergo things like body piercing and such by mental discipline or force of will to not feel or react to any pain involved. They call it mind over matter, but really it’s logic over emotion.
What did this experience tell me? It proved to me what we have all heard at some point that all of the distress of physical pain as well as psychological stress is purely a personal reaction. Yes, this is NOT new to the field of psychology at all. I haven’t discovered fire here, but I have experienced the truth of this fact first hand, and it’s an important thing to understand.
I am grateful that in the course of my life I’ve never been in any sort of extreme physical pain other than this sciatica. I’ve been blessed with good health and physical integrity, but the sciatica came and stayed and didn’t leave until I had learned a few things. And I do truly believe that everything happens so we can learn and become healed inwardly and more whole spiritually, as follows.
One thing I learned was to have real compassion for people who are in severe pain. Due to the peer abuse I was subject to in my teen years my natural compassion for others got buried under a callus of unforgiveness for those abusers, a learned veneer of “toughness” a lot of men learn as teens to appear not soft. Yet compassion is one of the most important qualities and it ends judgment and opens the door of the heart.
Over the years I have managed to heal a great deal of my feelings from those events and have rediscovered my buried love and forgiveness, yet sometimes it takes a more solid experience to drive a lesson home. I believe being immersed in this pain was an unavoidable lesson brought to me by the Creator, a merciful challenge to reawaken my compassion. As there was nothing I could do for the pain I had to rely on this inner purpose. I knew I needed to truly wake up and open up my heart that much more.
Next post: Healing Inner and Outer Pain