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Softened by Pain

softened by pain

I should know by now how this goes. In the run up to a call, a teleconference, I move into “preparation mode”. What this means is that my body, my emotions churn out a whole load of the constructs that I’ll  be looking at on the call.

This week, leading up to the “Opening To The New Masculine” I was taken by surprise. It started last weekend. Toothache. I did what I normally do, ignore it. Eat on the other side. It will go away. By Monday, I knew I needed the dentist. She prescribed antibiotics for a small infection. Twenty four hours later, the pain was much worse, swelling on the side of my face, pain killers not hitting the spot at all.

It’s amazing how quickly I can feel like a victim. Deeply sorry for myself. My whole world is going to shit. My whole life a mess. My thinking totally skewed by, admittedly, what felt like strong, incessant pain.

At last, late at night, I surrendered. I did what I knew I should do all along. I turned and faced into it.

I’ve done this for years with emotional pain, I’ve done it with serious illness. I’m happy to do it with most things. I’m not often in states of high, prolonged physical pain.  As I moved towards it, focusing into the epicentre, I realised I was frightened. Scared that there would be no end. Irrational. I knew in the morning I was going straight back to the dentist.

Old fear, attached to times when pain had been unremitting. I was afraid if I opened to it, really acknowledged its presence, there would be nothing else, no escape. It was exhausting. My whole body tense, armoured against it. Relaxing, I felt anger that I should have to deal with this, and then shame, big shame. I was not expecting this. Ashamed of being weak, defenceless, ashamed of feeling overwhelmed.

By this stage I start to get interested. It’s always the same, doesn’t matter where the pain originates, if I give myself to it, something shifts. The layers of condensed energy soften and open, revealing their stories. I don’t think I’ve ever done this and not experienced the pain changing its quality very quickly.

Once I dropped a granite slab on my finger. The pain was an immense overwhelming wall. Within a millisecond I was exiting my body, racing away to hide from the assault. I heard a voice saying “face it”.

As I pulled myself back into my body I almost vomited. Turning my awareness into my arm and hand, extraordinarily strong waves of energy washed through. Watching waves hit my heart with such force I thought I would have a heart attack. In a millisecond a layer of defence stripped from my heart. Then another. And another. I was fascinated. I knew that what had just happened was a gift. Not the dropping of the slab, but the release I experienced. Brutal and fierce, but a gift none the less. I was surprised not to loose my nail. It didn’t even turn black.

Back to my jaw. I get interested when constructs start to unfold. When I get to see the mechanics of energy at work in mine or another’s system. I realised, at last, that what I was witnessing were masculine archetypes and defences, and I was in “preparation mode”. This isn’t about male or female, men or women, but ways of dealing with pain. I would say that my familiar urge to deny is a masculine approach. Can’t afford to open to it. Lock down, soldier on, don’t feel, it’s to risky. The willingness to open to it, soften into it, experience and allow it all is a feminine quality.

As I softened into my jaw, I cried, deep sobs. Huge grief at the loneliness of pain, how isolating it is. The unwillingness to feel it hardens the heart. I felt broken, tortured, shunned, dirty. Another layer of the depth of my abandonment, my unwillingness to connect deeply to my pain. The ease with which I walk out on myself, abandon my own cellular structure for fear that it is just a warehouse of suffering.

The pain loosened its grip enough for sleep. I felt a little more at home in my body, and very aware that pain not felt becomes suffering. If it’s cleanly felt, well, it becomes something else, something softer.

I am also very grateful for codeine.