Healing the Culture of Pain

I have spent a good portion of this year reflecting on pain and pain medication.  In one of my classes this summer, David Dalton shared his observations of working with people in pain.  He said that whenever a person tries to suppress the pain with pain medication, the level of pain will rise to surpass the medication.  For those of us, who know people with chronic pain, we can see the profound simplicity in this statement.  How many times does someone get a cortisone shot and feel really good for awhile and then the pain is greater, long before the shot is supposed to wear off?  Or how many people are constantly increasing their medications or switching to stronger ones because the medicine is just not doing the job anymore? Of course this is what happens.  Why?  Because the physical pain is a symptom of a larger issue.  So suppressing the symptom, does not heal the situation.  In fact, it exacerbates it.  Our subconscious will not let this continue and so it will increase the physical pain, until the underlying issue is healed.  Many allopathic doctors, as well as, our pharmaceutical industry, do not recognize that the pain is a symptom.  They simply try to eliminate it.  Which then starts the cycle of increasing pain, increasing medication.

And so where does this never-ending cycle lead us?  In my case, it has left me heart-broken and brother-less.  My brother had a very large, sensitive heart.  He felt everyone’s pain and internalized it as his own.  Early on in his life, he learned that he could self-medicate the pain through alcohol and drugs.  (In my opinion, addiction is based on the desire to escape pain, trauma, etc.)  This past year, my brother had an operation and another instance where there was considerable physical pain.  The doctors prescribed him oxycodone both times.  He quickly became “addicted” to oxycodone and fatally combined it with alcohol.  (I use the quotes, because his doctor told him that he was not really addicted.)

For those of you who don’t know what oxycodone (aka OxyContin) is, it is an opiate or narcotic that is prescribed for pain.  It is extremely addictive.  It has also been a presence in the news lately because of the amount of deaths among those who use it.  Yet the use of this drug has drastically increased, Americans consuming the majority of it.  Why?  Well, clearly we are a culture in pain.  As you can tell, I have a very personal reason for wanting to stop this cycle and I now feel its time to share my desire.

Why are we a culture of pain?  Well, I’m sure we can discuss this for ages and like everything there are many reasons.  Though I think one of the biggest is that we are not living the lives that we want.  I feel as a nation, we are disconnected from Nature and our true, Wild Selves.  We have gone too far from ourselves, yet there is still that shining Light in us that is trying to call us Home.

(I would like to digress for a minute.  I feel pulled to say that I recognize that pain can occur for a simple reason, we stubbed our toe or had a surgery, etc.  While part of me wants to acknowledge that, a bigger part of me is questioning if that is where the pain stops.  I admit the pain is created by the stubbed toe or the surgery, but is that the original source?  I know for myself, that when I have stubbed my toe before, I was not being mindful and paying attention to my surroundings.  So I’m not completely, ready to discount the acute pain as not having a deeper connection to our subconscious.  Though, in general I’m talking about chronic pain.)

So what can we do for pain?  I think the very first step is to acknowledge it and try to get to the root of the problem.  This often takes time and help from others.  A good place to start is by journalling and paying attention to our dreams (Ah, this is what this season is about?!).  Of course, working with a good therapist is wonderful also.  (I stress good, because the wrong therapist can be detrimental to our healing.  Trust your instincts.)  Spend plenty of time in nature.  Plants have a way of bringing us back into balance.  Plus, they help us remember our Wild Selves and guide us on our path.  Breathe, deep, full breaths.  Oxygen affects our pain threshold.  Nourish yourself (physically, emotionally, and spiritually).  I, of course, recommend seeing a Flower Essence practitioner.  Flower Essences can be a valuable tool at this time.  They can serve multiple purposes.  Depending on what is chosen, they can help to strengthen the person, help bring to the surface the underlying issue, help us see through the problem, help us clear the problem (particularly if it is trauma) from our system, help us to re-create ourselves, and more.  Many of us have seen David Dalton’s Teasel set be helpful for those in pain.  This is the basis of what I use for Lyme.  However, we are constantly finding more uses for it.  My intuition tells me that the Teasel is not suppressing the pain like medications do, but helps to release it from our system, often makes it easier for us to understand the underlying issue, helps us clear it from our bodies, and I think it also reminds our cells of health, helping them to return to their natural-state.

These suggestions do not mean that you will never experience pain.  Quite the opposite.  Pain is an inevitable part of life.  But just like joy, we need to really feel pain and acknowledge it for what it is or what it is showing us.  The pain of losing a brother (or other loved one) is incredible.  Yet, it shows the depth of Love that is there.  I would not trade the Love to avoid the anguish and so I will embrace it and honor it.  While I can no longer guide my brother through his pain, I sincerely hope that I can help others.

Lyme Personality

What I learned in my Flower Essence training that has had the most impact on my life is David Dalton’s theory on Lyme disease (as well as his treatment plan).  As you may know, when we are working with Flower Essences, we are looking at the personality and childhood trauma.  Certain traumas and personalities are prone to certain illnesses and diseases.  David discovered a Lyme personality profile.  A person with Lyme tends to be: Type A, Martyr/scapegoat, pleaser/peacemaker, oldest/only child, and/or perfectionist.  The overall energy pattern is too much energy going out, not enough coming in.  For instance: someone or something is always more important than oneself.  (Now, if you fit one of these categories, it does not mean that you have Lyme, but you may be prone to getting it.  Also, it is possible to have Lyme and not have these traits.)

I contracted Lyme years ago.  So, this profile was particularly interesting to me.  I am a pleaser/peacemaker, only child, and I can be a perfectionist.  I definitely put more energy out than I take in, after all I am a mother and a healer.  I will admit I was a Type A in High School and possibly in College, but have worked really hard at changing that and so I didn’t classify myself as one.

However, that changed when I had the flu in March.  Anyone who has studied Waldorf philosophy or Anthroposophical medicine will tell you that fevers are soul changing and growth inducing.  In my family, we try not to fight fevers because when you come out of one, you have a sense of clarity and see things in a new way.  (Often kids get a fever right before a big growth spurt.)  I awoke from my fever and looked around.  I had a stack of about 9 books next to me, which I was trying to read while I had a fever!  All of them were non-fiction.  Most of them were herb books, also had a parenting book (Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, I highly recommend it), and a couple gardening books.  I figured that since I was stuck in bed, I should put my time to good use: learn more about herbs (they weren’t to help me with my illness) and plan a forest garden.  That was when I realized that I am a Type A!

Now that I know these things about myself and the connection to my Lyme disease, I understand how incredibly important it is that I take time for myself, relax, do something I enjoy, ask for help, etc.  Lyme is my teacher and will remind me when I continue to ignore my needs.  For anyone who matches the Lyme personality and has not developed Lyme disease, I recommend making changes for yourself now.  Lyme may be a great teacher, but there are much easier and more enjoyable ways of learning the lesson.