I just returned from a wet and windy walk. I was reminded of being a young girl and how I loved to walk in the rain. It’s refreshing, cool and warm at the same time. A good walk.
I was up at Western Washington University today for a meeting. I was reminded of being a freshman there just nine months after my accident and how painful that first year was – walking from class to class, from the dorm to the Union Building and the cafeteria. But then I remembered that the second year was painful, as were the third and the fourth years. Looking back I was surprised to realize that my leg has always caused me some kind of pain. There hasn’t been a time in my life, since the accident, that I haven’t been in pain. In looking back at my relationship to pain I see a progression from anger to acceptance.
I used to get so angry when my pain reared its ugly head. God forbid you were the person next to me when I couldn’t take another step. The pain would ignite the anger that lay simmering constantly underneath, the anger that I lost my leg in the first place. It was so hard to know what to do with all that anger. I know now that my anger created resistance and often made the pain worse, or at least it felt worse since the pain was the only thing I focused on.
Acceptance has been such a blessing. It’s taken years and lots of stories to get here, but acceptance allows me to be open to my pain. When I am truly accepting, I can have a conversation with pain. When it escalates, I move into it, even bless it sometimes. I feel a warmth wash through the pain and then it lessens in intensity. I can’t get rid of the pain, but I can choose my relationship to the pain. Sometimes pain is telling me to slow down. Sometimes pain is telling me something is wrong with the fit of the socket. And, I believe, sometimes pain is telling me I have something else to learn – about pain? about self-care? about patience?
There’s always something else to learn.