(From the get-go, I’m not talking about cutting myself or physically harming myself in any other way. Nor am I a masochist. Now that that’s out of the way…)
I was lying in bed this morning and my reflux was acting up so badly that I got heartburn. But I really didn’t want to get up. I was extremely tired and warm and comfortable but finally had to sit up. Ugh.
Now, I’m sitting there in bed and I realize my throat doesn’t hurt.
Let me give you a little backstory on why that’s important.
I’ve been having some health issues lately and one night last week, I felt like there was something in my throat. It swelled and I was afraid I’d not be able to breathe. So naturally, I panicked and ended up in the ER, hyperventilating for the first time in my life.
Totally not mortifying.
Blood testing shows that there’s something wrong with my parathyroid. (Parathyroid are these four little glands in the throat that control a lot of what goes on in your body health wise, mental, emotional, and physical.) My doctor told me that I needed a parathyroid scan and she’d send me to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist because there’s most likely benign tumors on my parathyroid gland which are causing all my issues.
Which is most likely what I can feel in my throat, but which won’t (as far as I know) cut off my breathing.
Woohoo! I like breathing.
I won’t go into detail (mainly because I’d feel like I was complaining and being dramatic, maybe later I’ll tell you) but my health has steadily been declining for three months now.
Something is wrong. Duh. This is pretty obvious right?
Okay, so now that you know that, where were we? – “I’m sitting in bed and I realize my throat doesn’t hurt.”
Right. So I start thinking like this: “well, if it doesn’t hurt, maybe I’m a psycho hypochondriac who made up the whole throat swelling thing, and I’m making this all up, and there’s nothing wrong with me, and I’m so stupid…yada yada yada”. Like that.
After I don’t know how long, I finally stopped myself.
Blood tests and doctors are telling me something is wrong with my parathyroid and I most likely have benign tumors that need to be removed.
I felt them before I even knew what hyperparathyroidism was!
So how could I have made the scenario up? I don’t control blood tests or doctors.
This made me realize something. Yay me!
(Remember, I’m trying to care about myself instead of hate myself. Trying to remember that I exist and all that… yeah, so I’m trying to pay attention to myself when I remember. Which isn’t often, but hey – I’m working on it.)
What my internal thinking this morning made me realize is – I measure whether or not something is real, emotional or physical, by pain.
If it doesn’t hurt, it isn’t real. “Must not be. How could it? I can’t feel it!”
Because of course I don’t feel happy – I’m ignoring that I exist! I don’t get the joy end of the spectrum.
By ignoring every thought, emotion, opinion, want, need, etc., I’ve set myself up to feel nothing but pain, when I feel at all.
Just because my throat didn’t hurt and the swelling (which is an off and on thing) wasn’t distracting – just because there wasn’t pain – didn’t mean it suddenly didn’t exist. If I pay attention, I can still feel something swollen in my throat.
But I don’t have to feel pain for it to be real!
How could I find happiness of any shade if I’ve lived with this programming?
That, however, does not mean that I don’t then choose to ignore my pain.
How else would I have gotten to where I am if I hadn’t?
It’s a painful cycle.
I set myself up to only feel pain. I ignore this pain. This creates more pain as I suffocate more and more of my identity. I ignore this pain. And on and on and on.
Why do I ignore the pain?
Because it might get me to pay attention to something I feel. Or get me to stop long enough to actually think. Which, you know, is selfish and bad and wrong of me because how dare I think of myself instead of someone else and what they want and feel…..
And yet – strangely, – it’s only when I feel pain of any sort, that I feel alive. Like I’m really here. Like I really exist.
I think that’s because when a person feels pain, they can’t ignore it 100%. There’s some initial jolt of “ouch!” or misery. And who feels the pain?
The only person who feels the pain is me. The real me. The authentic me. The me that’s trapped behind layer and layer of steel so thick I can’t breathe through it – and isn’t that the point? – and walls of pain and lies and denial and numbness. The me I can’t reach.
The pain touches who I really am, it touches my soul.
And so for a moment, I am alive. I can breathe.
But now I’m to the point where I can’t ignore the pain. Not emotionally and more recently, not physically.
The pain is telling me I’m not really alive, I’m surviving.
And it’s time to wake up.
This all brought the song “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls to mind. This one line:
“yeah, you bleed just to know you’re alive”