The Suffering of Not Feeling Pain

Sometimes my heart contracts and closes. I picture a hollow metal sphere divided into segments. Sometimes it opens like the petals of a flower.

My being is designed to find the things that give it nourishment, pleasure, wellbeing. Having located them – grasp for more of them. Meanwhile ignoring or rejecting sources of pain.

Opening myself up to be vulnerable to the pain of rejection or failure or shame actually is an experience that brings me great nourishment for the soul. To risk and be vulnerable is truly exhilarating. To connect with someone completely and be present for them is like peeling off my skin and letting the wind hurt the raw sensitivity underneath. The risk of such pain or rather the risk of really really feeling any pain is high. The thing that changes is my ability to feel. Then I realise that so much of the time I have chosen to not feel.

When I close down it can happen like a gradual grinding of rock slowly eroding definition of the world to a Henry Moore esque view of life. Rounded pebbles where there were sharp defined edges, missing details and the uniqueness that every thing and moment possesses. Or, my heart can snap shut, fast and reactive, closed against the possibility of hurt, reacting to anger or threat or rejection.

But the very act of closing withers my soul. The mistaken act of keeping out threat hurts. Each tiny closing of my heart twists an exquisite pain into my psyche, a snapping shut hurts so much that I just go numb. Too much pain to bear too fast.

I repeat the closing despite the hurt. My psychological reflexes shut my heart fast to keep out the pain.

Sensations keep me alive, but I shut them out. Closing down is like poison but I keep drinking it. When something makes me shut down I think I am frightened of pain. But actually I am frightened of being alive.

Only as lead player do I get to live this moment

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In the life of my movie – that inspired the movie of my life.

The producer and director sound like they have control, make decisions, pull the strings. But, they don’t get to embody their own visions.

Many people are director / producer / writer of the events in my daily life

  • Employers throw in curveballs that mean I have an eventful day – cue the volcano eruption
  • Family and health throw huge events in my direction – earthquake
  • Social norms dictate much of the dialogue I have with acquaintances, to the lady I hardly know but pass in corridors ‘how are you today?’ …’very well thankyou’ – background music time passing, clocks going round at speed, pages being torn off a calendar as the months fly by

Give me the role of lead player because only I get to embody the content, live in this skin, breathe this air, feel this moment and know what it is like to be on the inside of me ………. When I remember………………

Because much of the time I don’t remember and don’t live my life. I sit and watch it slack jawed as part of a passive audience. I watch things happen to myself and live in knee jerk automatic response to much around me and not noticing the slide downwards.

But even as someone that sleepwalks through life much of the time. It is all worth it for the odd moment of mindfulness, when I dive into my body and drink in the sensations, good or bad and just rejoice at virtual reality 3D life. That beats director / producer / writer every time.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Show Must Go On.” If you were involved in a movie, would you rather be the director, the producer, or the lead performer? (Note: you can’t be the writer!).

Do you believe in fairies?

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “I Walk the Line.”
Have you got a code you live by? What are the principles or set of values you actively apply in your life?

My code. I try try to stay present for people and myself
namely

  • Listen to what people are really saying
  • Listen to my own honest reaction
  • Respond to them by including my reaction

A real example from today.

A colleague –

Well I like to keep up the pretence of fairies because it’s nice to think they’re really real.

(said in a joking manner)

My reaction was – whoa what planet are you on ! I’ll just smile and pretend you didn’t say that.

But I managed to take a second….. after a pause

Hang on a minute – you really believe that don’t you. I’m trying not to judge… but that is a bit strange.

We were both smiling and laughing by this time – mostly at the honesty of it all.

She said

Well I am from Ireland… and part of me likes the thought that it could be true.

Me

Okay I am judging, that is going to stay with me for the rest of the day.

It was both absurd and very honest
She could have denied believing in fairies and I could have pretended not to judge.

We both enjoyed the honesty and the absurdity ( apologies to any fairy believers).

 

He did free tattoos, was getting better at doing them, would I like one ?

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Whoa!.”
What’s the most surreal experience you’ve ever had?

 

My most surreal experience was a particular moment when I was in a psychiatric ward. Being there had felt surreal, but in a fuzzy detached way. More unreal than surreal.

I had been in this ward for a few days and was encouraged to go out on a trip to a local coffee shop in a  minibus with other patients. I was very compliant and just went along with it all in a bit of a daze.

I got into the minibus with a group from the ward, we were all there in various states of distress / confusion / fear, I had not really spoken to anyone yet. The person next to me a man in his early twenties started chatting to me.

He had been kept here for 6 months for absolutely no reason at all and the consultant was the devil
– ok well we have different perspectives here…
He did free tattoos, was getting better at doing them, would I like one.
– that was very kind……

I had a sudden moment of clarity and presence. What was I doing here – how did I get here. This man was clearly seeing the world very differently to me and the others in the minibus all felt equally alien to me. This was my surreal moment.

The thing is, it was surreal when seen through the eyes of someone from outside the ward. I momentarily had used outside, ‘normal’ eyes. But the feeling of being an outsider, not belonging, not safe. I have experienced and recognised that back in the ‘normal’ world many many times since.