Imagining Pain

A couple months ago I had a significant breakthrough in overcoming my chronic pain which has affected various parts of my body off and on for about 10 years. I was fed up with the medical establishment. I’ve wasted thousands of dollars on specialists who only treat the symptoms and never provide lasting solutions. There is a huge disconnect between our emotional well-being and our physical pain. Doctors are not trained to look at the whole picture.

So I took the spiritual, psychological route and did some deep inner work. I needed to access my unconscious and dig up some repressed messages. The unconscious is a very powerful source of knowledge and wisdom. It speaks to us through dreams and influences our everyday behavior in ways we are blind to. Establishing a line of communication with one’s unconscious can lead to life-altering healing and growth. Opening up a dialogue with aspects of myself that I’ve become disconnected from has been one of the most productive forms of recovery. I never know where the conversation will go and what I’ll discover, so I show up prepared to listen.

Instead of treating my pain like an unwelcome, faceless, and nameless alien who has possessed my body, I looked at my pain right in the eyes and had a conversation with it. I approached my pain from a place of receptivity. I wanted to understand why I was suffering from something despite being young and living a seemingly healthy life. I begged my pain to speak to me. After some much-needed emotional venting and crying, I waited with bated breath for an image, a response. I saw my chronic pain personified as a bear, growling and gnashing its teeth. Interestingly enough, it made perfect sense, because my pain always comes and goes, hunting and hibernating. I never know when it’s going into hiding and when it will emerge suddenly, roaring with rage.

He was enormous and scary. Clearly very mad. I met with him and recorded our conversations over a handful of occasions. I also met other spirits along the way who reminded me that I am a resourceful person capable of loving this body and thriving. I learned about my sky-high self-expectations, my capacity and bandwidth, and my mindset issues. We visited my childhood and made some obvious connections.

It didn’t take long for this dead-of-winter episode of chronic pain to begin subsiding.

“The unconscious contains important wisdom to be learned. A life lived in deep communication with the unconscious is far more influential and personally satisfying.”

The Highly Sensitive Person, Elaine N. Aron

Two important lessons learned here. I stopped associating negative feelings with my pain, and instead of resisting it–wishing desperately it would go the fuck away–I leaned in closer with curiosity. I also didn’t ignore it and muscle through as I have often done. I saw the pain as a part of myself desperately wanting some attention. It spoke to me, and I listened. Secondly, I made the connection between the physical and emotional. Not the world’s most expensive ergonomic office chair nor the most experienced massage therapist could cure me.

I did it at home on my own, and it cost me nothing. This is the inner work. When I approach healing from a place of conscious femininity, I find all the answers I need within. I didn’t need a palm reader or a daily horoscope to show me the way. It was there all along.

I am using the same dialogue practice to speak and listen to competing energies and fantasies inside me (my goddesses and guides) begging for attention to be seen by my ego. What I am uncovering is profoundly healing. I’m coming to an understanding and appreciation of myself that I’ve never had. As someone who has many contradictory sides, personas, and desires, I can say this is what it feels like to be me, unapologetically.

I am still the same imperfect Krissy–sassy, sarcastic, introverted, highly sensitive, and fierce. But I’m settling into my body more than ever. I am riding the spiral of growth, owning who I am each and every day.