Photo Courtesy of Lorena Gonzalez
Two days ago I woke up with an excruciating pain over my left shoulder blade. I immediately took two Tylenol and while it did nothing to help, I managed to soldier through the day. The next day I woke up and the pain was still there only this time it came packing a bigger punch.
Like the day before the Tylenol wasn’t doing anything to numb the pain.
I decided to apply some lavender essential oils and to try some homeopathic techniques and yet I still felt no relief.
Seeing no results I reached for the Aspercreme.
And it too failed to soothe my pain.
It was so bad I couldn’t move my left arm more than a few inches without experiencing tremendous pain.
Thankfully I remembered I had some prescription pain patches and I applied them and was able to numb some of the pain.
As I was sitting there in pain I remembered some advice I received from a doctor a few years ago when I had stress knots which were causing me trouble whenever I tried to turn my neck in the direction of the pain.
The advice I received was that as much as it hurt I needed to turn towards the pain. My doctor informed me that as long as I avoided working through the pain the muscle would only get stiffer which would result in the pain becoming worse.
I took his advice and worked through the pain.
And like I did then for the past few days I have been working through some excruciating pain.
Even though it is very painful little by little I am able to move my arm further than I did the time before and it hurts less each time.
Today I woke up and the pain is still present, however I can extend my arm far more than I could yesterday.
So what is the point of me telling you about my shoulder pain?
The point is that just like physical pain you have to work your way through your emotional pain.
I have read countless articles explaining that when you have an emotional pain that it is unwise to try to numb it through unhealthy methods such as alcohol or to try to avoid it by completely distracting yourself for long lengths of time because in the end the pain will just come back with a stronger bite.
While I do practice trying not to think about things that are bothering me and alternatively thinking about positive things I also take the time out to examine my thoughts.
It is a fine balancing act.
Much like I tried to numb my physical pain I think that is okay to seek relief from emotional pain using positive methods.
However, at some point we do need to deal with it.
I call it a balancing act because we cannot completely avoid it and yet we can’t spend the entire day focusing on it.
Lately, in addition to my physical pain, I have been dealing with quite a bit of emotional pain.
I am grieving and so I have had the opportunity to ride on a roller coaster of emotions. I don’t like not feeling at peace but I respect the process.
Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross postulated a series of emotions experienced by survivors of a loved ones death.
Further researchers have found that these emotions are also experienced by people who go through the end of a relationship, loss of health, loss of a job, loss of financial stability, miscarriage, death of a pet, loss of a dream, loss of safety, or even the selling of ones home can cause a person to experience the stages of grief.
In the pass two years I have experienced about four of those things.
And so I have become all to familiar with the stages of grief which are as follows
I learned years ago that just because you move through the stages it doesn’t mean that you won’t circle around to a previous one and additionally they don’t necessarily happen in the order I listed above.
My latest and greatest grief trigger was the end of a relationship.
For me once I got past the initial shock (denial) I immediately slipped into anger. I moved on to bargaining then right back into anger. I considered denial then back into anger I went.
I toggled between anger and depression for quite some time.
Anger at what happened but mostly anger at myself.
I had to forgive myself.
As I have written before like most people I am my own biggest critic.
I am extremely hard on myself and often forget that I can only know what I currently know.
I forgave the other person and had yet to forgive myself.
I failed to give myself credit for the fact that I am working diligently to break bad habits and to strive towards greatness.
I will be honest I like most people don’t like dealing with pain.
And if I must endure it, I want to know how long is it going to last and when can I expect to be done with it.
Thankfully I recognized that the fact that I had gotten over similar pain before meant I could do it again.
Nevertheless, even though I don’t like it, I decided like my physical pain I had to go through it by facing it.
I wasn’t ignoring it.
I wasn’t numbing it, no I was dealing with it.
I sat there in shock and disbelief.
I yelled and screamed.
I spoke about it and cried about it.
I got depressed and cried some more.
I dealt with and am dealing with it.
Because I want to work my way through it.
When I went through my divorce a grief counselor gave me this advice that mirrored what my physician said. She said, “You have to go through the pain, not around it”.
I don’t advise anyone to dwell on their pain but I do advise you to take the time out to analyze it.
One of the ways I work through my grief process was doing the work that is made available from Byron Katie’s website.
Doing the exercise suggested by Byron Katie caused me to analyze the negative thoughts that were running through my mind and to let them go.
I have shed a lot of tears as I moved through my stages of grief but tears can be so healing.
I think sometimes we are afraid to cry because we think that if we start crying the tears will never stop flowing.
But I can assure you that they most certainly will run dry.
Like I said previously, dealing with pain is a balancing act.
For me I try to limit how much I talk about it because I recognize that after a certain point I am no longer having a healthy conversation about my pain but rather obsessing over it.
I journal about it in ink.
Why in ink?
Because then I can’t erase how I truly feel.
Sometimes we like to censor what we write. When I write in ink I am less compelled to hold back.
I read self help books and find assistance from others who have been through what I am going through as inspiration that this too shall pass.
I take the time out to numb the pain in healthy ways such as listening to classical music, taking relaxing baths, using essential oils, pampering myself, reading good books, meditating, praying, exercising, watching comedies, spending time with loved ones, cultivating healthy relationships, helping others and learning new things.
But like I said I also deal with the pain.
I am in a far healthier place today then I was before and it is because I decided to work through it.
I will not be a victim of my pain.
I forgive myself for the mistakes I have made and decided to accept myself completely.
I learned a lot and I have grown a lot and for that I am thankful.
That pain helped me to become a better person.
As much as I wanted to avoid it, now that it is here I am going to go through it and come out better on the other side.
I refuse to let anything I experience to make me bitter.
I once watched a video by Chazz Ellis where he talks about not letting your ex steal the best of you.
I think that is true not just in romantic relationships but with anything that we have lost in our past.
Don’t give the best of you to your last situation and nothing to future ones.
Learn the lesson from the last interaction or situation so the next time you can be a better version of yourself.
The lesson isn’t to never love again, never try your best again, never be nice again, never work hard again.
For me my lesson was:
Have boundaries and higher standards, trust my gut, believe I deserve the best, don’t be afraid to walk away from a relationship that doesn’t serve me out of fear that better will never come, see myself as valuable and associate with those who see me as such.
I know it seems odd but I am thankful for the person who taught me this lesson. As painful as the lesson was I learned life lessons that I am sure have catapulted me into becoming a better version of myself.
This doesn’t mean that I allow this person back into my life, but it does mean that I finally understand two qoutes in a way that I never did before.
The first is by Mark Twain –
“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
The second is by Mary Oliver
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand this too, was a gift.”
I forgive the person who gave me a box full of darkness because I see the beauty in the pain.
I invite anyone who is going through grief to find a healthy avenue to work through the pain. Just remember you can’t go around it, you have to go through it. If you need professional help please take the steps to get it. And as cliché as it sounds please know this too shall pass.
© Renata Pittman Smith, Renata Nicole and RenataNicole, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.