Shadow limb

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

There is a misconception, I think, that all pain is bad and to be avoided at all costs. While I am not a masochist (on most days), I try to be aware of what emotional issues cause that dull thud to reverberate through my body. What causes me to want to get in my car and drive as far as I can, and then get out and walk further?

I have read that amputees can feel their “shadow limbs”. I believe that we have the ability to feel “emotional shadow pain.” Until we open and cleanse old wounds, the shadow pain returns and recalls the source of the original wound. In doing so, the pain revives and begins to throb again.

Pain is not bad. Children are born through a great deal of pain on the parts of their mothers. It is pain for a purpose, an end, or a beginning.

Yesterday I wrote about truth. Today I write about pain. We spend so much time trying to shelter ourselves and others from pain that we forget that there is a rationale for this emotion.

“I don’t want to be cruel”, “I don’t want to cause you any more pain” are phrases that are often used. Those sentiments are off base, however. No one can make you feel anything that you aren’t feeling. Another human being is not responsible for my emotions, nor can they cause me to feel or not feel anything. To take ownership of your own pain is something that many people are reluctant to do, or unaware that they can control.

But I do. I claim my pain as my own. This is my own doing – no one else’s. I asked for the truth and I got it. The residual pain of the truth is cathartic, in its own way. It allows me to scrape away old scare tissue and reveal the pink skin of healthy emotions underneath. It allows me to cry and rid myself of old toxins – things that have been stored for years, from other times. Now I will smooth ointment over the wound and let it heal properly, with no shadows underneath.

As I gave thanks for truth, I give thanks for pain. Not because I enjoy it, but because I know that my growth depends on my ability to manage this and learn the important lessons it has to teach me.

6 Baleful Regards:

Julie Marsh said...

Allowing yourself to feel emotion requires great strength, and as you said, is necessary to heal old wounds.

I've had trouble with the thin line between wallowing and numbing. There's an essential middle ground between the two, and I hope that's what you've found.

Anonymous said...

I know that feeling the pain and facing the truth can be cathartic, but I come from a long line of people who like to pretend that painful things never happened. It's more extreme than putting a bandaid on an old cut -- more like covering up the body that's rotting in the corner that everyone can smell. (sorry so graphic.)

It's good that you can face your pain and move beyond it. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help.

Anonymous said...

Feeling pain means you are still alive and that you have feelings. I am scared of the day when I am so hardened that I can no longer feel happiness OR pain.

Meghan said...


I am sorry for your pain. I hope that after sitting with it for a while, the healing process continues and you get back to feeling good again.

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about you and whatever it is that you are up against right now. I think about times when I have come up against difficult situations and not been who I thought/assumed I was. It has always been hard to forgive myself and come to terms with the fact that I am not always in my best form.
I don't know what you are going through right now, but I can assure you that if you've been less than you expected, it absolutely does not mean that you aren't all that you thought you were.
You are a beautiful person, and don't let the 2% of the time you spend slipping up make you forget that 98% of the time you are a total badass.

Cristina said...

Visiting here for the first time. Was referred over by Elizabeth's post at Table for Five.

I read this article too. Your insight into pain is interesting. I think it does help to know that through pain, one grows. It's no fun while going through it, but it helps us evolve into the people we are--and hopefully makes us stronger.

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