Connecting Body and Soul

??????????A back-bend gone wrong, a broken tail bone and whiplash from a car accident set in motion 25 years of back pain that began at the ripe old age of…16.

Receiving the injuries is not necessarily out of the ordinary, after all, many teens are injured and recover well.  What is significant is that I never fully healed. And do you wonder why I never fully physically healed? If you have followed my blog you will know about my childhood abuse but did you also know that a history of abuse correlates with chronic back pain (and also pelvic pain).

The subsequent years left me living half-full.  No one knew when I was hurting or how badly I hurt. Just as no one knew about the celebration I had on the morning I woke up and bent over in the sink to spit out the toothpaste…without pain.

I suffered and therefore celebrated in virtual silence.

Pain levels that were typically 5 out of 10 became registered in my mind as 3 of 10.  A 3 recalibrated to 0.  I learned to ignore the pain, stuff the feelings, survive and just keep pushing on.

My silence was reflected in my gradual withdrawal from physical competitions and fun.  I just couldn’t risk cycling through pain.  My new normal of cautious engagement was frustrating and unfulfilling and gradually became the main contributor to unhealthy weight gain, further complicating pain management.

Hmmm, sounds familiar.  If you take away the references to my physical body and insert my soul and the chronic abuse of my childhood you have an accurate analogy.

For the last ten years of my life I had learned to keep the pain at a manageable level through yoga, chiropractic care, ibuprofen, icy hot, massage, etc.  But none of the treatments seemed to get to the root of the problem.

Last May I began an awesome workout – Kick Boxing!  Hoo Rah, Baby.  My soul consumed the empowerment like an addiction. My inner warrior engaged and loved it…but my body?  My hips began to hurt and I told myself that it was just me getting conditioned and acclimated to a healthy workout.

It wasn’t acclimation. I kept pushing myself, willing my body to get in line with my soul, but I fell apart instead and over the next two weeks spiraled into excruciating pain.

My husband had to help me stand up and get out of bed while I furniture-walked my way to a hot shower that would take the edge off (not really but it bought me some wake-up time).  Honestly, my pain levels every morning were 7-8.  Pretty far up the chart of tolerance – and that was for someone with a pretty strong denial of pain built in.

I spent last summer with a hot pack as my most intimate friend and upon the loving prodding of a true friend finally went to a physical therapist who specializes in sacral instability.  And I began to heal.

I say all this to help you understand the precise timing of God’s intentional interruption to my status quo, half-lived, die-ing a slow death, never-really-breathing life.

June was the month that I spiraled into excruciating back pain and it was this same month that I began to experience Post Traumatic Stress through flash-backs to repressed memories of sexual abuse.

God did not want to leave me half-dead, status quo, struggling to breathe a full breath.  So he allowed me to hunger for empowerment, my strength, my protection, me…  I was broken in body and soul.

He finally had me in a place where I had no choice but to stop and learn to be present in my pain.

I could no longer numb out my worthlessness, validated by abuse, through countless volunteerism.  I couldn’t override the pain in my body because it was too loud to ignore.  I ceased pushing my needs to the end-of-the-line when I could no longer bend over to pick up the shoes and backpacks, sort the laundry or unload the dishwasher.

He used my physical pain to bring me awareness of the pain in my soul.  And today, as I am coming out of the pain, both soul and body, I can say…

“Thank You Lord, for the gift of pain.  Thank you for hemming me in and giving me no ability to run from the painful truth of my past.  Thank you for crippling my body to free my soul. And thank you that my physical healing is coming.”

Yes, let Pain-tience have its perfect work (James 1:4 my paraphrase).  My journey this year contained many days and hours of learning to grieve and sorrow, indeed to lament my losses. Oddly I have found contentment in the pain.  It is right and good to grieve.  It is appropriate that I have sorrowed. And I am making my way through the stages of grief:

  1. SHOCK & DENIAL-
  2. PAIN & GUILT-
  3. ANGER & BARGAINING-
  4. “DEPRESSION”, REFLECTION, LONELINESS-
  5. THE UPWARD TURN-
  6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH-
  7. ACCEPTANCE & HOPE-

In an age that says all pain is bad; avoid, override, push through – Just Do it – I have found the opposite to be true. I have found peace in the process of grief.  Sometimes – you don’t need to change your “attitude” about life – you need to accept the truth of your life – and your future becomes filled with hope when the past is at peace.

For the sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

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