Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Of pain, and purpose

When Nino falls and gets an ugly black welt on his shin bones, he cries rarely, picks himself up quickly, and wears his scar with pride. Male, I mutter, disgust and awe and admiration all mixed up a bit, at a creature who came from inside of me, but is SO incredibly different from me.

But all my life I've met more women than men, who wear their scars proudly, looking down on those, especially of their gender, who break down easily. I'm married into a family that seems to be made only of these emotional amazons, and I've long faced the brunt of my own family's admonitions, that I suffer, because I am too emotional, too soft, and have a low pain threshold.

My first encounter with the female-perpetuated philosophy of 'threshold of pain' came in middle school, with my first period. For a year, I would have five days of near-insanity, with vomiting, hallucinations and excruciating pain. My mother, who has had the easiest hormone cycle perhaps possible, could only look at me in sympathy, as my father nursed me and my sister took days off from her school to make sure I din't die... because trust me, if you could die of pain, I would have.

The 'threshold' got invoked again and again, by female friends and female relatives and female in-laws for the small things like my inability to get waxed, to the 'big' things like how I wouldn't let my cervix open so that Nino could have a normal birth.
It dint' matter that my body too revolted against pain: waxing gave me allergies that lasted for days, so I've shaved almost all of my teenage + adult life, and that perhaps I was too emotionally disturbed when Nino was in the process of being born. My 12 hours of pain, were brushed aside as 'not real labour', because frankly, I did have to be operated later. It was a character badge that I was not worthy of receiving. Adults = Pain bearers, and therefore I remain immature.

I've always felt that my physical pain mirrored a mental state, that the two were complimentary if not conjoined. Over the last two months, living through crazy-ovaries related migraines, and hot flashes, unending lower back pain and vertigo, to a series of incredibly painful abscesses (all first time incidents with me), I'm now questioning what message my body is trying to give me. If it is trying to increase my pain threshold, perhaps it may have moved up a notch or two under the constant onslaught at new kinds of pain. If that is so, I wonder if I'm being prepped for an emotional calamity of sorts - because don't the elders say that you only carry the cross you can bear?

As I spend my nights in pain, crying in the quiet of a room where no one hears me, at an age that by default denies me of sympathy or caring or nursing, I rage against both my pain and my inability to beat it. It follows me everywhere, even inside the recesses of my soul, like a shadow I cannot shake off. And if I hate it so much, how will its purpose make sense to me?


Anonymous said...

Oh Nino's mum, this is so like me. I can so relate with your sense of isolation almost.

Don't say things like "being prepped for emotional calmatity". Don't add to your pain with fear.

I too sometimes wonder which God i should propitiate to heal my health issues.

One sometimes feels very lonely, as you yourself have mentioned, there is a threshold of pain in most people's minds.

Wishing you loads of strength, joy and good health!


Suku said...

hope you feel better one's testing you or preparing you for the worse. the mind works in many different ways,take it one day at a time, stay strong and positive.

Nitya said...


sher khan said...

hey.. cheer up.. dont know what to say.. Hugs. thats all that i can give :-) God Bless

Sands said...

Hugs NM. Some pain you mention here I can so relate to and some I have just a vague idea. But the one thing I do know is that the more you try to bear the pain and not complain, the more you endure because you don't get the sympathy you deserve. I hope you get rid of all the aches and pains soon.

Shivangi said...

I hope you are feeling better. luv n hugs babe..

GOTB said...

I struggled a lot with why I was so hung up on child birth being natural. I wondered whether I was falling into the same trap - that somehow bearing pain made the act more noble, the birth itself more legitimate. It really stings to hear that people dismissed your 12 hours of labor pain as futile - I did it too, but only to myself. I caught myself saying why did I have to go through 25 hours, I could've been cut open in the first hour. It's really not true - it's all part of the process and I hope you know you aided Nino in coming out safely, even if not the final push. I have worked through those feelings and I think I've settled on the fact that I wanted natural because I wanted it to be my own personal experience, not necessarily shared by anyone. And also that it is "meant" to be this way so the pain cannot harm me. Compare this to the 50s and 60s in the western world where feminists fought for women's right to be knocked out and not be in pain for child birth - they saw this pain as yet another blow to feminism. Clearly we don't belong in that camp but yes, I'm not sure where this pride in bearing pain comes from or what it looks like in your case - lack of sympathy. I do try not to take too many pain killers and try to allow my body to naturally deal with pain but I am also disdainful of the idea that pain itself is a badge. Kudos to Nino for taking it in his stride and kudos to you for not. Pain is so natural, why can't our response to it be so as well?

dipali said...

Oh my dear, I wish I could help you, somehow. Huge hugs and tons of love.
I hope you are better soon.

ChoxBox said...

hey babe, hope you are better now. hugs.

Uttara said...

Do not, do not let others measure what is painful for you. Don't let others judge your body for you either.

What has helped me tremendously with pain is mindfulness based meditation-its now used quite often in the West in hospitals etc

Will write to you.

OrangeJammies said...

Oh good grief, what does the doctor say? Surely this isn't just about not being able to take pain! It sounds like there's something seriously wrong. And what's with the sympathy-deprivation? Please to tell your family I do not approve at all. Everyone has different limits and no one is the greater or lesser for it, so really, we have no right to condescend like that. And you, missy, must take absolute care and insist they do too. Big hug.