To think that once upon a time, not too long ago, I thought of pain as a migraine headache, an excruciating toothache, labor contractions or a dreadful stomach bug.
I’ve since learned about a whole new brand of pain.
I learned that emotional pain actually hurts right down until the innermost core of my coreless self. That it’s a thundering sensation that moves through every micro-cell and shatters the stillness of my years-long silence. That it physically rips through my chest and knocks my breath out. That it leaves me clawing for relief.
That it’s not that different from wracking labor pains. Only there isn’t a culmination. No birth to await. No new life. Perhaps just a resuscitation of old dreams I hoped were long buried.
I don’t even understand it.
What is this pain?
What makes it emerge? What makes it brazen? What makes it fade? What makes it retreat, leaving me longing for its return?
How much of it is about now, and how much of it is about then?
How much of it is the silenced screams of experiences long forgotten to history, stuff my heart remembers but I do not know of?
How much of it can be understood, explained, quantified?
And how much of it is just a fact I have to accept, a river I have to flow along with, a journey I have to allow to happen?
Is pain in itself healing, even when I don’t understand it?
Is experiencing this pain, pain I am told is coming to the surface after years of suppression, the crux of this work? Should I just surrender to it and let it do its thing without my interventions, without my ponderings and questioning and probing?
Or does the healing lie in the understanding of this pain?
A sorrow shared is a sorrow halved, they say, but when pain is shared and yet not understood, doesn’t that just grow the pain, double it, intensify it, until it feels like death all over again?
If so, should I keep my pain to myself, ride through the waves in my dark little corner? Or should I try again to attempt to explain it? To let another person in? To dream that someone can hold it with me? To let my pain impact another human soul.
It’s so risky. It means I might be left invalidated, even more broken than I am now. I might start to question the pain that I carry. I might start to wonder if I’m feeling something that is not mine to feel. I might lose the little understanding I have of this pain.
I might watch it fade and retreat to a place deep in my soul, back there where I buried it all those years ago.
And the pain of not feeling is even worse than the pain of pain.