Tag Archives: pain

Sparks will fly #25 #winter

Sparks are flying every way. New ideas. New pain.

Is it possible to hold the space inside of myself where expanse can grow wide and deep at the same time I want to crawl away into a tiny tight ball? This pain I carry from new knowledge about the one I loved for my whole life is eating me inside out. I am using all the tools I have at my disposal to inoculate, heal and to help myself, but there are times when they are not enough and the only thing left is tears. I wonder how the body can keep producing them, it is tiring, but I just let them come and let them go. I notice how they arrive invited and uninvited, conjured up by a memory or provoked by pain.

I come to new understandings as my brain allows lessons to be revealed or information to be surfaced in ways I can make meaning.  I long to share with others who have a common experience to do the sensemaking and am so grateful to the few I can tap into, and to others who witness me arriving at new understandings. It is winter.

This has not been an easy week on the inside.

On the outside it has been all celebrations and success, harvesting and sowing seeds that are already coming into bud. An extraordinary beginning of my version of the quest for equity. Everything else though has been an inside job, battling the demons of wounds that refuse to heal and are determined to ooze their toxins and invading me  and infecting me. Feels like vector borne diseases are eager to catch me out when I am not expecting it. The metaphorical mosquito buzzing around me that never seems to be able to be swatted and despite putting on repellent, finds the only place not covered to land a bite. Mozzies in winter are even more annoying than usual.

I am weary and restless from the incessant buzzing and just lie in wait for the bites to come and apply the salve to soothe afterwards as prevention just doesn’t seem to work.

I am finding comfort, as I usually do, in the words of John O’Donohue. His words on broken trust resonate with me as I yearn to  find a poultice of tears to wrap around betrayal, deceit, lies, broken promises to deliver compassion, dignity, healing and maybe one day, redemption. For now though, it is raw and awkward, stumbling, bumbling and fumbling thoughts sending me up and down like a game of Snakes and Ladders. There are more snakes than in the Garden of Eden, testing me and distracting me from climbing the ladder up and out of the depths of contaminated memories. I am holding onto the bright sparks of light, drawing me to the stars and the sky, where the moon now waning, hangs low to welcome the winter solstice. Sparks are flying in the fire pit.

Sometimes there is an invisible raven
That will fly low to pierce the shell of trust
When it has been brought near to ground.

When he strikes, he breaks the faith of years
That had built quietly through the seasons
In the rhythm of tried and tested experience.

With one strike, the shelter is down
And the back yoke of truth turned false
Would poison the garden of memory.

Now the heart’s dream turns to requiem,
Offering itself a poultice of tears
To cleanse from loss what cannot be lost.

Through all the raw and awkward days,
Dignity will hold the heart to grace
Lest it squander its dream on a ghost.

Often torn ground is ideal for seed
That can take root disappointment deep enough
To yield a harvest that cannot wither:

A deeper light to anoint the eyes,
Passion that opens wings in the heart,
A subtle radiance of countenance:
The soul ready for its true other.

– – John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us


Photo by Siim Lukka on Unsplash

Promise to tomorrow #13 Discomfort

I was at a yoga workshop last night – a beautiful concoction of sound, stretches, postures and praise for what the body and mind can do.  The instructor gave us definitions for discomfort and pain.  Discomfort is when the mind says to the body you can’t do that any more and tries to over-ride the brain, teasing and tricking and fooling you into thinking you can’t be stretched any more. Pain is something else, a symptom of some underlying condition, an intense assault requiring immediate withdrawal.

The invitation from discomfort is to hang with it and get to know it, push through and see what there is on the other side of that discomfort. Easing in, breathing in to the discomfort may be a seduction, a not realising the discomfort is the herald for pain and indeed may well be an early warning signal.  So often I have hung in with the discomfort only to become accustomed to it, and not understood it as the beginnings of something more dangerous and toxic.  There is a process of discernment required to notice whether it is discomfort or pain and in that process we ask ourselves about the nature of our experience: is it transitory? is it consequential? does it have a trigger? is my mind playing games? We collect evidence and notice patterns. Eventually we make a declaration to our selves.

Discomfort deserves attention and breathing into it might be one way of giving it attention, ignoring it another …. but if there is an underlying problem in the discomfort that requires more immediate attention … then discover it before it becomes toxic.  You may need to inoculate yourself, withdraw, move or eliminate it from your environment before you are in real, and hard to release from, pain.

Niggling feelings, nagging doubts, gnawing thoughts … enticing us to go deeper into discovery of what discomfort has to teach us.

Promising to tomorrow to pay attention to discomfort, may open up new horizons. There are plenty of things I am uncomfortable about – the voters and voting system in the US delivering to the world Trump, the shareholders of companies ignoring evidence that leads to destroying lives and landscapes, my national government continuing to treat asylum seeks as illegal, child protection agencies unwilling and unable to unfetter themselves from the shackles of poor design and practice, the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians in mortality and well-being  indicators … the list goes on.  And then I turn my attention to myself and there are plenty of discomforts there – eating and sleeping patterns, kindness (or lack of it), ability to serve and be served … and this list goes on too.

Breathing into the feeling of discomfort might be part of the promise to tomorrow to understand the source and meaning, but it certainly isn’t going to mean staying in that place. Discomfort shows you are on the path to growth and discovery, that your antennae is getting tuned in and is turning symptoms into data for discernment and decision-making. It is an invitation to be honest with yourself.


Here’s hoping the reprise of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaiden’s Tale brings discomfort