Lately I've been feeling akin to a rat in a cage. Life these days largely happens at home, with a couple visits to the office and the barn each week. So when the snow came down and the sun was shining down, I was excited to head outdoors with my kids for some fresh air and fun sledding.
Much of my self-care routine revolves around movement - it's what helps me keep momentum and release pent up energy - yet more intense exercise has been pretty lacking for me since the holidays. So in hindsight, I suppose that after we had headed home for cocoa, when I began to feel intense pain in my left lower back and hip, it shouldn't have been topo surprising.
Over that weekend, I gave myself grace and my husband was a huge support as I rested and did all the things to help my body heal. But as those couple of days extended into a week I was acutely aware that the state of constant pain, ranging from dull ache to deep throb, and thus my inability to MOVE was taking a deeper toll on my psyche.
This state is something I've experienced in the past, but with less awareness. In my early twenties when I had complications after oral surgery, later in my twenties when I had shingles, and then at 30 during the recovery from surgical birth and the resulting nerve damage, longer term pain led me into deep states of depression and feelings of isolation.
Today as I write, I'm still experiencing varied levels of pain and discomfort from whatever strain I caused to my left psoas muscle. The difference is that today, after the last decade of personal growth and learning, I am choosing to use my awareness to prevent a deeper slide into mental and emotional suffering. Seeking and asking for help has made all the difference, as has speaking up and sharing what I'm feeling as opposed to allowing shame and a perceived feeling of weakness to reign.
Pain causes instantaneous response in the body as our nerves transmit information about the sensation to the brain. We make noise, our muscles clamp down, we stop breathing deeply, and in intense pain the body will go into shock or go unconscious to protect us as a means of turning down the volume on pain. When we experience pain chronically, even at a very low level, it can have a heavy impact on our mental, emotional, and energetic well being. This is suffering.
In the human experience, it is inevitable that we will experience pain from time to time. What does not have to be true is that we must exist in a state of constant pain, or suffering. We can choose to take action, but first we must have awareness and also believe that suffering is not a requirement.
There is certainly some irony to be found in having the very thing that keeps me sane and sound can also cause injury, but with awareness and choice, it has become a time to practice what I preach and have invested many hours and dollars over the past decade plus discovering. Today I choose to surrender to what is happening in my body, so move slowly and rest, and not to shame myself with harsh self-talk of laziness or weakness - all so that this pain does not evolve into suffering. Powering through would only result in greater injury and increased duration of pain. In choosing to honor myself, there is freedom.
Has pain impacted your life? How about suffering?