What really happens when pain enters the game? When our bodies
unwillingly dive into fight or flight mode? When the silent (or not so silent) alarm
goes off within our neurotransmitters that alerts us to pain?
Physical, blatant, oh-damn-that-really-hurt pain. Invisible, silent, my-life-willnever-
be-the-same pain. Screaming, shouting, why-won’t-they-listen-to-me pain.
Aching, longing when-will-it-ever-stop pain.
I’m sure there are many other types of pain…but these four strike me tonight.
These four seem to swarm around my life like a perpetual beehive of activity.
Waning for moments here and there..then bursting through with an unmistakeable
buzz and an unconsolable bite.
Physically, I am daily challenged by a life of chronic pain. Getting out of bed
is continually an act of will…something I must do in an effort to prevent being
sucked in to a life of woe and misery. A life filled with doctor appointments and
outrage at the medical community. A life riddled with more and more and more
instruments and foreign objects being jammed into my head, making me less me
and more synthetic. In particular, I’m challenged by daily activities, walking my
dog, carrying groceries, lugging my luggage around the airport. Previously, I wrote
about this pain daily…only to find the more I wrote about it… the more I dwelt
Emotionally, I am a bit of a hot mess. I have this amazing life that makes me
so grateful it brings me to tears. I have this past life, where I’m continually being
burned at the stake, which also brings me to tears. My tears flow in gratefulness
because I now see that God is pouring out on me the blessings I was told long ago I
was not worthy to receive. I was told I was stupid, I wanted to much and I needed
to stop trying to be “Billy Graham” in everyone’s lives. I was told church wasn't
important and that I was an embarrassment to be seen with. I was told I wasn’t
worth the medical bills I incurred and that a “bullet is cheaper”.
That was my story, and my underlying belief for many long years. I wore
shame like an ill-fitting cloak as I prayed to God for a sign, a reason… some basic
worth. Until one day, like Elizabeth Gilbert said, “the only thing more difficult
than leaving, was staying”. So, like Elizabeth...I made a decision… to pray, (you know, like
...to God) to make peace with
God and to leave that abusive facade of a marriage, praying that even if God left me alone for the
rest of my life, I would be okay with it because I would be free of scorn and
ridicule, I would live without fear and life would become a virtual bed of roses.
The truth is, I am not free. The more time that passes- the grander the stories
about me grow. That causes more pain. Sure, there is the "sticks and stones may break my bones but words
will never hurt me" approach. Let's get real, who did that ever work for?
I want to scream at the top of my lungs:
“Haven’t you hurt me enough?”, "Haven't you hurt our children enough?"
“When can I stop being your whipping boy?” and
my favorite way to put a spin on it , “Wow, you must still be really hung up on me to make up all of
Pain comes from “friends” and “family”. People who have turned a blind eye to what
has happened to you because he is part of their family. (Gentle reminder, so was I for over twenty
years) That’s fine, support your family...but does it have to be an either or? Did I cease to be a person
because I chose to cease to be a victim?
Emotional pain comes from rejection. Even within the Chiari communities ,
rejection happens. The very minute I started standing up and declaring I would go
against the odds and this disorder would not rule me…my allegiances changed. I
became an outcast, a loner, a freak. I take no scheduled meds and only contact my
neurosurgeon on the rarest of occasions. I want to move forward, shake it off and
still LIVE. So what if I have to take two muscle relaxers and a clonazepam upon
returning home from a trip-- I am LIVING! I am seeing the world. I am going for it in life.
For this, I am judged. I am scorned for not “checking in on people”…though no one seems to
notice that “no one” is checking in on me. Will I always be the girl showing up with a casserole when
others are sick, only to find on my darkest days...guess what? No Casserole.
Did you know that two way streets really do go two ways?
Then family tragedies hit.. and the “friends”, they scatter like flies. Pain
results. The pain of really longing for a friend to just sit down and pray with you.
Or to even care enough to ask questions. The longing for understanding, for acceptance, for just a simple
I suppose this really is just an essay about pain in its many forms. Real pain. Pain that has grown from
neglectful parents. Pain that has been watered by harsh words and neglect. Pain
that seems so uncontrollable that though it be emotional, it is felt physically and it
will not be silenced.
Feeling like a single parent. The weight of the world on my shoulders. The
joy of triumphs with the children and then the agony of defeat. The sheer agony
of knowing a child has been so traumatized that mom’s TLC won’t help. The fear
that inappropriate advances were made by a family member..knowing that story lies
just beneath the surface-waiting to pierce through and reveal itself at any given
moment. The pain of an unjust legal system and the search for good (and affordable
resources for PTSD). Knowing I'm going it alone in this area simply because I'm still
being punished by an ex husband that is too blind to see that his efforts to hurt me and
make me "pay" for some contorted sin he made up to justify his own lack of parenting is
only hurting his children. Then the realization that he hides behind a church pew while he
dishes out his untrue, justifying and blatantly neglectful edicts results in a different type
of spiritual pain that is better left for another essay.
Pain… it comes in all flavors, it’s fat-free and has no carbs or calories.
However..this pain, it keeps us small. No one really wants to know pain, yet
everyone wants transformation. Everyone wants to evolve, to grow, to level up. In
perfect balance, transformation cannot occur without pain. So we must be careful
what we want, really inspect the desires of our hearts and ready ourselves for the
aches and pains that lend to metamorphosis.
I believe my part of the pain process is to acknowledge it, and assign it a
home, a label, a purpose. As a master chef, I slice it, dice it, stir-fry it and serve it
up beautifully until I can swallow it completely…typically doing so just before it
takes over and ultimately consumes and controls every aspect of who I am.
I imagine this to be how depression feels…long bouts of pain on steroids.
Hurt, rage, guilt, shame all morphing into such a heavy burden that it’s victim is
weighed down with it to the point of becoming paralytic.
So today, I write about pain. Tomorrow… I may write about pain again. Or
perhaps joy… or perhaps daffodils… But what I truly believe is that I will continue
to write about pain until its all written out of me and I am free of it. I share it with
you because if what’s most personal is most universal, then you struggle with pain as
Behind every perfect smile and in every “perfect” home, pain lurks in
the corners, in the silence, in the dark. Those without voices are consumed by it.
Those with voices cannot hold it in. Truth will always be revealed. No matter how
much it may fight to stay hidden. I believe the truth of pain lies in our very core, in
who we are, who we were always intended to be.
I believe the denial of its existence is like scoffing at God and His divine plan. I
believe pain is part of the fiber of our being… so what I truly believe is that pain
doesn't enter the game. Pain merely sits patiently in on the sidelines until we are
available to play.
In today's contest, I emerge as the victor. I will rest my weary bones, soothe
my tear-worn eyes and ready myself for the next match.
What I know now is that using my voice is more than half of the battle.
Visit my new website www.michelecollum.com to see just how I'm using my voice.