[Note: This post is the fourth in a series. “Prelude: Pain” is here, “Frustration” is here, and “Invitation to Rethink” is here.]
Over the past few months, I’ve written (see the links at the top of the piece) about the pain in my tongue and jaw that’s been pretty much unrelenting for the past decade. So many times over those years I’ve tried to get a handle on it, from many different angles, and nothing has worked for very long. My doctor prescribed a medication that helped enormously, but alas, it stopped working some time in May.
The fact that the pain returned in spite of medication let me know in no uncertain terms that I need to come to grips with the underlying meaning in the pain. Only then will I be healed of this demon of mine.
Then there was the series of computer crashes and other electronic events that invited me to stop and think about how I spend each moment of my day. The chronic busy-ness that characterizes our lives these days is, for me at least, an absolute danger to my psychic wellbeing.
So I have tried my best to be aware of my mental state in each moment. I’ve cut down on my obligations and have put more emphasis on meditation and spiritual practice. In spite of my efforts, a few weeks ago the pain got so bad that eating was excruciating. Sleep could not come, because I was jolted awake each time I dozed off by the buzzing jolts of “electricity” in my tongue and jaw. There was no relief except during the hours I was working with the horses, or actively dancing.
It was these brief times of relief that gave me enough hope to keep going.
Then, on the way home from the Rescue Ranch one day at the end of June, I ran over a white dog. That strange story and its ramifications will be told more fully in an upcoming post, but you can imagine how horrifying it was! I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the meaning in that event.
Whatever its meaning, the accident with the dog seems to have had the effect of focusing my attention in a way that hadn’t happened before. Maybe it just made me feel a kind of “life and death” urgency. I don’t know.
I do know that somehow I became more open to Guidance. Messages began showing up in different ways: a phrase “dropped” into my head; a tarot reading that didn’t make sense at the time but did a few days later; a realization brought by the horses and finally understood.
And at the same time, the pain intensified. Eating became a painful necessity; nights were filled with pain. I was in real misery.
Then, on the Fourth of July, I “heard” a phrase, out of nowhere, unconnected to what was going on at the time:
“You can never be happy if nothing is ever ‘enough’; you can never be healed if you cannot accept healing.”
That afternoon at the barn, working with a client and my horses, I thought about how lucky I am: I mean, how many people get a chance to be of service to others by doing something that makes them as happy as horses do me? That’s an amazing privilege.
“But…” (I always have a “but”)…. Always the questions: “Is this what I should be doing? I don’t deserve to be happy–I need to be serving others! I must be missing something! There has to be MORE!” Thing is, I need to FIRST rejoice in what I DO have, not refuse that gift because I think it should be MORE in some way. Yes?
And as far as the second part of that mysterious phrase goes, if I can’t accept the gifts that I have without wanting something more, then I’m not going to be able to accept anything, including healing.
By the next day, the pain had significantly lessened, and that trend continued. Four days later, I could completely forget about my jaw for hours at a time. Amazing! But why?! It felt almost like I just woke up one day and said, “Oh. It’s OK to be happy, so I’m happy now…” and instantly the pain started to subside.
VERY weird, but what if it really is that simple?
It would be easy to beat myself up for not figuring this out sooner, but I had to remind myself that I could not “figure it out” sooner—I was not ready. I couldn’t hear the message over the din of all those negative voices that have been playing in my head for 60+ years.
They’re still there, but somehow I can understand them for what they are: voices from the past, learned responses to life that no longer serve me. And apparently I’ve gained enough experience to be able to hear them and just let them go. That is amazing.
It’s also important that I never, ever gave up the belief that I could be healed of the pain. Never. Not even that last week or so, when it ramped up to where I couldn’t imagine how I would live with it the rest of my life.
So for almost a week, I was pain-free and happy—genuinely, legitimately happy, not about any one thing but about my life, my adventure on this plane of existence. Excited about what comes next, excited about what new learnings will present themselves once less of my vital energy is taken up by pain.
I knew that healing would take a while—no doubt about that—and that nerve will always be a weak spot, apt to flare up under stress. But I felt like the residual pain could now serve its legitimate function of an “early warning system” of tension, anger, frustration, or whatever unnecessary “negative” emotion threatened to take up residence in my psyche.
“…and she lived happily ever after.” Right? Um, no, not exactly….
In mid-July, out of the blue, I got a phone call to let me know that the program that I coordinate at the Rescue Ranch has been suspended, perhaps cancelled. Shock flooded me, and a whole host of emotions ranging from outrage and anger to grief and despair.
I couldn’t stay relaxed, and could not focus on happiness. Sure enough, the pain returned—full force. For these last couple of weeks, I’ve been in pain day and night—again.
But at least there is reason to hope. The key to the door of this cage exists. I just have to pick it up again.