Acute pain is a problem of the present but chronic pain is a problem of the future. If I go to this event, will the length of time give me a headache? Or the human interaction? The bad weather? What about the lack of accessible bathrooms or the food provided, will it give me a stomach ache? Will the physical exertion trigger my carpal tunnel syndrome? Will I be in so much pain that I want to go home early but can’t? And if so, will the pain be worth it or will I be too miserable to appreciate the experience? If I bail, though, will everyone be mad at me? Will I be a disappointment? Every future event and upcoming activity triggers the anxiety loop again: fear shame guilt, fear shame guilt, fear shame guilt, an endless repetition of dread for the future. And what does the anxiety even solve? Does the prevention of future pain guarantee an end to the pain? Unlikely. Does it even guarantee a lack of pain on the day of the missed event? Of course not. So what’s the point? Fear shame guilt. Fear shame guilt. Fear shame guilt. It solves nothing but you can’t break free.
If I wanted, I could never feel anything again. If I wanted, there are a hundred different ways to shutdown, to shut out, to numb myself beyond all care. Yet I do not want this. I choose pain. Pain means lucidity. Pain means you can think, that beneath the torment you are still in control. Every dull ache or sharp stab of white-hot pain means my body still fights. Could I spend my final months or years in a medicated haze, pretending that I’m not rotting inside? I could. I won’t. I would rather experience every moment of agony with the acute clarity of the dying than relinquish even a moment of control. My lover chooses to drown his sorrows in whatever cocktail of liquor and opiates works best that day, but not me. I choose awareness. I choose pain. I choose to face the end without flinching.
sad when some pains are preferable to others
like how I can be doubled over from stomach cramps
but wave it off, I’m fine, I’m fine
and I’m learning to live with migraines
when even blinking hurts and all I want is quiet darkness
but this constant, unrelenting ache
radiating through my fingers, my wrists, my arms
living with this six years hasn’t taught me anything
except it hurts to sleep, to type, to drive
to write, to lift, to carry, to push, to pull
to do anything, really, you need hands for
and I can bear a lot of pain in a lot of places
but this one wears on me