Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hold On To the Pain

As a massage therapist, I see a lot of people who are in pain. When I was first out of school I only thought about the physical aspect of pain. I understood how the body transmits pain messages from injury, disease, movement and stress forming in the tissue, signaling through the spinal cord and onto the brain. As a therapist, people expect me to help them ease the pain or get rid of it altogether.

I found myself up on my soap box many a time preaching my viewpoints of how "pain is our friend" (groan) because pain is the message "STOP!" and how the use of painkillers are just that pain killers, they don't handle the source of the pain, they just block the pain receptor messages from the area of discomfort to the brain. So when someone is thinking that they are feeling better because there isn't any pain, the person is unaware that tissue is still dealing with the injury, disease or stress and since they have their "painkiller earplugs" in they can't hear the body's cry for help or the body's shouting "STOP!" They aren't listening to the true messages of the body. But over the years I have learned that telling someone that "pain is your friend" is equivalence to "there is no shame in being poor" being in pain sucks and being broke sucks, nothing wrong with either, they just suck. Pain may serve a purpose and being poor may be character building but they still suck.

The part of pain that I was reticent to deal with is the emotional aspect. Both in helping my clients and myself. I now recognize within myself what a emotard (like that word? I do! Just made it up.) I am. I am emotionally retarded. Not to say that I am emotionless or unfeeling or anything like that, but I have not fully developed my awareness and understanding of emotions. My childhood does not make me a poster child for healthy emotional expression. My youth should make me an expert on emotional suppression and the effects it has on the body, mind and spirit,I feel that I am a walking billboard "what not do to".

Side Note: Shucky-darn! I just googled "emotard" and discovered that I am not the first person to use that word. Urban Dictionary got there first. Stephen Cobert has probably used it as a "word of the day"! Ego is deflated, didn't coin a new word, totally bummed out.

Again, as a therapist, I am really starting to acknowledge the way the body handles the emotions and how much of our pain and suffering is from unexpressed,unacknowledged, suppressed emotions. I have read books by Louise Hay and I have her movie "You can heal your life". I also have a working knowledge of Chinese Medicine 5 Elements Theory of how different visceral organs correspond (not the word I'm looking for but it will do) with different emotions (i.e. liver/gallbladder= anger) but with all this working knowledge I could not help my clients confront the emotional ties that manifest as physical pains. Why can't I help them? What emotard can help anyone else handle their emotions?

I think I am feel-good emotard. (This is not scientific case research- just observational opinion)

Yellow feel-good emotards- can express happiness, joy, the lighter emotions.
Blue feel-bad emotards- can express sorrow, sadness,regret, dispare.
Black feel-really bad emotards- can express anger, rage, hate.
Grey feel-numb emotards- no expression of any emotions.

Feel free to develop your own observational opinions and add/subtract from this as you like.

Many people who are waging their own private wars with obesity and health issues already know this I'm sure. Intellectually I have known this information, but I have not been able to deal it head on. Emotions have been my kryptonite. They are the bogymen hiding under the bed at night.

Emotional pain is not easy to understand. The work that Louise Hay and others have done can help point us in the right direction and give us a bit of a "ah!" awareness of what emotion is a factor when it show up in the body. But I this that is like the diagnosis of the problem not the treatment. There isn't an emotional painkiller that really works. Food doesn't really stuff them down. Alcohol and Drugs don't make them go away. Avoidance will only work so long. The toll that holding onto emotional pain is very costly. Time, energy, relationships, self-worth, money just to name a few. Like pharmaceutical painkillers these things only block the minds ability to receive the pain messages not handle the problem.

I don't have any answers, only more questions. I am just happy that I recognize the problem and that I am looking for help. Isn't that the first step to wellness? Awareness? What's next? Damned if I know.


  1. Interesting thinkinh...Hmmm, in case I have also tried Louise Hayes and many others and am grateful for pain pills. I never understood why people sa they just mask the pain. Who cares as long as it eases the pain.

  2. Sorry for the poor spelling typing ahead of my brain. lol