Sometimes, pain is just pain.

There. Fixed that.

The pain-as-weakness thought line creeps me out.

I’ve spent a lot of years hearing supposed reasons for my pelvic pain, reasons that would put the cause of the pain back on me.

Because I eat meat.

Because I eat dairy.

Because I drink soda, coffee, alcohol.

Wheat gluten, soy, and carbs– they all have to go.

No wonder I hurt; my iron levels are low! When was the last time I had a burger?

Because I don’t exercise enough.

Because I exercise too much.

Maybe it’s just the wrong kind of exercise.

Because I’m too thin.

Because I’m too fat. It’s all that soda and alcohol destroying my reproductive bits. Why don’t I check back with the doc when I lose 30 pounds?

Because I have sex.

Not enough foreplay.

Not enough lube.

Maybe I’m too tense. Why don’t I relax a little and have a glass of wine?

Because I haven’t had a kid yet — as though it’s a biological inevitability.

Because I won’t get a hysterectomy already — as though at twenty-nine, I’m past my prime for that sort of thing.

I’m sure I could find a solution if I’d just try a few more things. Why do I have to be so difficult?

Even under the best of circumstances — a clear physical cause, access to health care, providers who respect and support the patient — I’d guess that chronic pain can be tricky to manage or treat. And we don’t always get the best of circumstances. Attitudes that conflate pain — even pain leaving — with weakness can further get in the way of that already imperfect care and can seriously fuck up my body’s ability to make peace with itself.


I'm here. I like stuff. Some other stuff, I like less.

Posted in MenstroMonster, non-asana
2 comments on “Sometimes, pain is just pain.
  1. Susannah says:

    Blaming people for their pain is so tempting for some people.. for most people. Sometimes I think about pursuing further medical care- a new doctor, a new specialist, seeing a naturopath or some other type of alternative medicine I don’t even believe in- and I cringe. It seems as though my choice is to continue with the pain and exhaustion on my own, potentially needlessly, or to put myself through more and more and more people examining me, clucking over me, finding new things that I’m doing wrong with myself, and maybe helping me- or maybe not.

    I keep swearing off doctors. But there’s too much pain to stay away. Currently I’m on a doctor kick. I’m going to have surgery for my gall bladder, which is good but doesn’t address any of the daily awesomeness I live with. Other than that… I got nothing. It kills me when I see a new doc and he or she says, “Live more healthily, lose some weight, take this useless medication, good luck with that.”

    Pain is just pain, nothing more, nothing less. There’s nothing inherently meaningful about it for us, which is rough. I can’t tell myself, “this is my muscles being challenged to grow” or “hello! time to go see the doctor!”, only, “this will pass. it’ll come back, but it will pass.”

    I sound like the brave little cancer patient who could, but I am grateful for my chronic pain, on the whole. If it weren’t for my pain, I wouldn’t have left my abusive ex, because the pain forced my face into my problems and held me down. I wouldn’t have started doing yoga, I wouldn’t have gotten into running. I wouldn’t know what transcendence feels like, when I manage to get free of the pain for 20 minutes and run like a gazelle in the sunshine. I wouldn’t pray, I wouldn’t meditate, and I wouldn’t be a doula, or a feminist. I definitely would have zero awareness of my body comparatively, and my knowledge of anatomy would be nil. I think I would have continued pushing my feelings down as long as I possibly could, and that would have gotten me into a tougher situation than I maybe could have handled. But, it’s the devil’s bargain.

    Sorry to go on. Your pain is for you to give meaning to, not me. I just don’t hear from other people who really fucking get it, you know?

    • anytimeyoga says:

      It seems as though my choice is to continue with the pain and exhaustion on my own, potentially needlessly, or to put myself through more and more and more people examining me…

      Yep. I keep fluctuating between deciding that the cure is worse than the condition and hoping that someone, somewhere will have… if not a magic solution, at least a solution that will make a more significant difference. Like you, I don’t want to put myself through more medical scrutiny without results, but I also don’t want to be in needless pain, either. And some days, more than anything, I just wish I knew where that line in the sand was. Like if someone could definitively tell me, “This is all that can be done, and this is as good as it’s going to get”… well, at least I’d know.

      But the idea that some of it could be alleviated — an idea that’s often repeated in the chorus of “have you tried?”s — is perpetually tempting.

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