Painful Hierarchy

2014-03-08 13.30.36During a course for the alternative treatment, Myofascial Release, the instructor described how unexpressed emotional trauma can sometimes show up as symptoms in the body. When the topic was opened for discussion, I shared with the group how my repressed sexual abuse was related to chronic pelvic pain.

During the break, a fellow participant approached me and said, “I feel so sorry for you. You have had to deal with horrific pain in your life. It’s not like so many of the people around here who are upset or crying about the stupidest things.”

When I thought about this comment, I realized that putting information in a hierarchy and judging the relative importance of things is a great tool of the analytical mind. But this capability, which helps us focus and survive, can also be used to discount our pain or the pain of others.

I have to admit that on occasion, I have felt impatient with people who were struggling with emotional or physical pain, and even a bit superior. I have also compared my level of suffering to other people’s pain and deemed that mine was less intense and therefore not really valid.

But pain is pain, and for the person who is hurting it is always real. When we switch from hierarchy to equality and from judgment to compassion, we help ourselves and each other feel safe enough to feel and express our pain. And this is the way to healing.