A couple of weeks ago, I experienced some of the most intense physical pain I’ve ever had.
I’d just about managed to fall asleep the night before-eventually with a hot water bottle pressed to my face, soothing the aching, throbbing, sharp pain emanating out of my molar. How can a tooth possibly create such a fuss?!
I was lucky to get to see the emergency dentist the next day. There was no hiding my physical pain & she luckily responded with care-in a dentist sort of a way. As she stuck the anaesthetic needle into my swollen gum—the pain of which seemed to roll in wave after wave—she gently, kindly told me to breath & calmly told me I was doing so well, that it would be over soon.
I breathed, I believed her and it helped. There was something so soothing and angelic about her voice. Sometimes those little things especially in moments of vulnerability provide the greatest comfort.
But, as the anaesthetic masking the pain of the giant abscess infecting my jaw & subsequent dental drilling, began to wear off in the car park of a Tesco’s express in Haywards Heath (not my first choice as a location for suffering high level dental pain but there you go), my pain levels hit the roof. Feeling like I almost might pass out—comfort came again in the form of my husband Simon’s warm hand holding mine, letting me cry & just being there with his reassuring, loving energy.
There’s a part of me that sometimes likes to judge what I’m feeling—less these days from all the years of self development but still, sometimes it likes to say, “come on, you’re making too much of a big deal out of this….other people would handle this better…” This voice says very British things that probably got us through the war, like—“ just pull your boot straps up, stiff upper lip and all that.”
But I’ve come to the conclusion that you just feel what you feel. And I tend to feel a lot. About a lot.
I didn’t used to when I was younger, it didn’t feel safe or acceptable to—it might cause trouble. But now I know different…
I now know that it doesn’t mean that you’re going to wallow in a pit of self pity, endlessly, mindlessly consuming tubs of Ben & Jerry’s and that you’re not going to look for a solution either—far from it, feeling what you feel IS the most powerful way forward.
Once those vulnerable feelings have been felt, seen, witnessed & hopefully comforted by yourself or another—it’s only THEN that you know what you need or want to do about the situation (whether it’s some pain killers & a hug in my case in a Tesco express car park or something more profound)…and sometimes feeling the feelings are all that you need to feel a little lighter.
It amazed me how I could handle the physical pain better once I’d let out a few tears & expressed how much it hurt to Simon (even before the ibuprofen kicked in) & we were fortunately able to drive home.
Unheard feelings can stand in the way & become rigid, hard & stuck—sometimes they even create illness within the body but once felt they become softer & melt away—opening a door, a space for something new to enter.
I sometimes still want to rise above them, minimise them and ‘keep face’ but they continue to be my greatest allies, teachers & healers—they’ve spurred me on to every brave thing I’ve done & allowed in more love then I imagined possible.
So I say, feel what you feel. Be kind to yourself. Then & only then, think about a solution to the thing that’s causing you pain—if one is needed.
“Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time…” Brian Jacques, Taggerung