The Spiritual Price of Chronic Pain

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

February 7th, 2009 • Living with Chronic PainPrint Print

It’s been raining cats and dogs for a few days now.  In the past, I was so excited about rain. I would put on my bikini and Teva sandals and go out running in the streets, dancing and singing.

I remember encountering an acquaintance on the street once, when I was running around in the rain.  As she got closer to me, she yelled, “I knew it!  When I saw you from far away, I thought, ‘That can only be Loolwa.’”  I enjoyed being known for my vibrant Spirit.

While I did go for a walk two days ago, it was very subdued.  And yesterday, I didn’t leave the house at all. It really bugs me that I am being so complacent, instead of tearing off to the beach, to luxuriate in the storm. 

Last night, I spoke with a friend of mine, who also has chronic pain, about the difference in my behavior. She helped me understand that pain and suffering in general, and repetitive physical trauma in particular, can leave us feeling like we want to hide out most of the time.  We just don’t want to put ourselves in a position where we might endure more suffering than we would by laying low.

I hate it that the cumulative effect of all of this medical insanity has been a change in my personality on some level. While I still grab that brass ring through my work, where I scale mountain tops, I have become super low-key in my physical world.  And that’s just not the essence of who I am.

How do I reclaim the physical manifestation of my soul?

I think the solution is doing something that scares me just a little bit, each day.  In other words, push past my physical comfort zone just enough that I’m always moving forward, without taking too much risk to leave me stranded.

I’m just feeling a lot of grief for the part of myself that I’ve lost. The part of me that had a mantra in my 20s, “There is no limit.” Always stepping past my comfort zone.  Always stepping past the comfort zone of society.  Always on a quest for freedom, truth, and the authentic Spirit of the Life Force flowing through me. Letting the chips fall where they may.

In college, my best friend made me a poster with a collage of pictures of us over the years.  In the center of the collage was a poem about risk.  At the end of the poem, she wrote, “Dear Loolwa, you taught me to risk. Thank you.”

That meant so much to me.  I want to be that person again, physically as well as in my work. May it be so.

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