It’s always there to some degree, mocking my every move. A jig, a waltz, maybe Chubby Checker’s famous twist, or a seductive embrace as we move across the floor — my dancing partner, my pain. Maybe it’s sharp, a get your attention pain; a boxer’s jab; possibly an unrelenting tooth acne; or a sustained, never-ending pain.
Pain can be physical, psychological, or both, and when latched onto an individual, becomes unique. Physical pain can be tested and more easily diagnosed than the illusive psychological pain that sometimes plays hide-and-seek with the mental health specialist. Treatments for back pain are many — injections, physical therapy, spinal adjustments, medication, meditation, acupuncture, and when all fail, the surgeon sharpens his scalpel.
Two weeks ago I had a bone fusion performed in my lower back. A herniated disk and the movement of two vertebra called for a bone fusion to eliminate the pain. A back brace for support and oxycodone for pain are being used during the healing process. I have become friends with oxycodone and refer to her affectionately as “oxy.” When in my medicated buzz, I sometimes call her “foxy.”
As a survivor of childhood physical and sexual abuse, I have experienced psychological pain as well. Memories of the abuse left me wrapped around a porcelain stool while I vomited poison into the mucus-colored water. It was an emotional pain like I had never felt before. Scared, lost, and without direction I turned to a therapist and have been treated with medication and talk therapy. Life is good. I have moved beyond surface emotions, and now experience the depth of feelings that life has to offer.
Whether physical or psychological pain, we must always be aware of the monster in the closet, better known as depression. Pain breeds depression. While my depression pales in comparison to someone with a severe mental illness, it can be debilitating. Depression is waking up in the middle of the night covered with leeches that suck the spirit from my soul. But now, after years of therapy, I can spot them from a distance as they slither over a hilltop and crawl my way. I refuse to allow a single leech to take residence in my soul.
While a “bring-you-to-your knees” pain has many negative side effects, it can be a blessing, and serve as a reminder of how good life can be. Imagine a musical phrase of dissonance and intensity that drives towards the final cadence and then, with true beauty, resolves into a morning spring. Tension followed by release brings joy to one’s life. I will dance a jig without pain as my partner.