I have a frozen shoulder, otherwise known as adhesive capsulitis. This means, I can’t raise the arm attached to that shoulder much higher than the shoulder itself. It makes things like sweeping, washing my hair, putting on pullover tops and the like challenging or nearly impossible without pain. I’m to avoid pain. Nice directive and one for which I need little reminding.
[Let me take a moment to announce to everyone, especially the mid-life women out there, if you feel pain in your shoulder and it doesn’t go away for weeks on end, get it checked out. It is easier to take care of early in the game. Once it adheres, the recovery can be a long one. Natural recovery (without intervention) can take 2 to 4 years. Much of what I’ve read says it is likely hormone related. I would have liked to have known about all of this prior to the adhesion, so consider this my public service warning to all you ladies out there.]
As for me, I felt it last fall, before I went to Hawaii, but I figured it was just another of those aches that goes away if you just give it a little time. While I was in Hawaii, it loosened up as I swam in the warm waters of Lanai. But then, I suspect everything feels better in Hawaii.
There are details of the journey, whom I saw and what they recommended, but where this post really begins is the night after I got a cortisone shot in my shoulder. Agony was my teacher.
The pain was the worst I’d felt since I broke my foot. I experienced wave after wave of pain and no position made it better. There was no break, no breather from the misery. I walked around my house saying “and this is supposed to make me feel better? Are you kidding me? WTF!” I began to wonder how people with chronic pain manage and my compassion for those people went up exponentially.
When I went to bed, I put on the Reiki Whale music I listen to every night and tried finding the least painful position to lay in. At first, I resisted, as in, I tried to go to sleep despite the pain, trying to ignore the pain and listen to the music. That didn’t work.
Finally, I decided to work with it rather than against it. I repeatedly said “You are a part of me. You are a part of my wholeness.” Then I went deeper into the pain with curiosity; wanting to know more about this part of me. I found myself being with its rhythm, riding its wave. Somewhere in that ride, I drifted off. When I awoke, the pain was gone.
That morning, with my focus no longer captive to waves of pain in my arm, I noticed that my big toe joint hurt, my left shoulder was also unhappy and there was a kind of kink in my groin. These typical morning aches and pains felt heavenly in comparison to the previous night’s waves.
I took the contemplation of wholeness to my morning meditation. What was the pain teaching me? I thought of all the ways I have separated from myself in resistance to pain; physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain, mental pain. Whenever I resist, I am saying, you are not me, you are the enemy.
Then I became aware of all the ways I’ve separated from myself by berating myself. Every time I have found myself wrong, imperfect, flawed in some way, I’ve disowned a piece of me and created separation. I became aware of the ways I’ve colluded with others who have foisted their own pain on me in the form of disrespect and abuse.
When I am not experiencing myself as whole, I feel broken and feeling broken I chase after whatever I think will fix me. Thus, I’ve set up a cycle of separation and pain.
In my meditation I welcomed it all back, all of it and all of me. I sent messages and vibrations of love to all of me, the whole me with everything included.
Now, the me who is already (and always was) beautiful has an opportunity to catch up to the me that has been chasing after perfection.
Beauty is not perfection.
I said to myself: This is where I not only “see what is,” I accept. I surrender. I stop chasing. Now I can begin again from Love.
As I sat with those thoughts, I noticed little complaints from various parts of my body as if to ask “me too?” “Yes, knee, you too.” And as quickly as it came, the throbbing in the knee vanished.
The prior night’s pain brought me into my body and would not let me escape. Being in my body had me be aware of what it needs. It forces me to listen and that’s all the body wants, for me to be present and listen.
I became aware that if I am self-loathing in any dark little corner of myself, I hold myself separate from me, from others, from life, from God / Goddess / All that is. This loving wholeness, embracing it all, is the antidote to self-loathing. Rather than focusing on how I am not perfect and all the things that need fixing, which has me not like myself until those things are fixed, I am turning my attention to being whole. I’m loving the whole me inclusively and my body, mind, spirit and heart can all feel safe and loved, rather than marginalized and disowned.
If I want to be heard and seen, best to begin by seeing and hearing myself.
And so, I am re-membering the disowned parts and I am remembering who I really am.
And you, dear reader, what pains you and how is it related to separation?
copyright (c) February 2011, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved