Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   Mar 10

Pain as a Gift?

Dare I think – even breathe in the quietest of voices that my back may be improving just the slightest bit?  I ask this as a question because the only thing I noticed that was different about this past week is that I was able to sit long enough to finish a painting:

It’s been over two months since I’ve been able to sit at length for anything, including meals, without being on medication every four hours. 

My last post was very raw, emotional and honest.  I wasn’t sure what kind of feedback I’d get.  When comments started coming in from you who mean the most to me here – my online family, I was touched by your words of encouragement and understanding.  Your comments allowed me to see that I sometimes tend to put way too much pressure on myself. Thank you for pressing the reset button on my thought process.  I think I’m slowly climbing out of my hole. 

I spoke with a good friend of mine on the phone this weekend who gave me a lot of food for thought.  She questioned whether or not I’d ever considered that my pain was a gift and that perhaps it was here for a reason.  Pain as a gift?  Hmm….

I’d mentioned in a previous post that my style of painting began to change markedly for the better when working on my recently finished crane.  I thought about it and indeed found it odd that my style of painting completely changed during my time with him which was incidentally the same week I was suffering from crippling back pain.  Comparing my earlier paintings to the ones I’ve finished since this bout of pain began looks as though two different artists were at work.  Maybe my lesson in all of this was to learn how to be the painter I’ve always wanted to be. 

Accepting pain as a gift is by no means easy.  Especially when it is chronic; never-ending.  But I have made the decision to look at it this way even if I don’t feel it, for three reasons:

1. It changes my sour attitude about it

2. It’s way better than feeling sorry for myself, and

3. It would be comforting to walk away feeling as though I’ve gained something from this experience.

Now, if I could just be given the chance to utilize what I’ve learned without distraction I’d be a much less grumpy individual.  Hopefully that’s something I can soon say with complete confidence.



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  1. Vickie says:

    I think my pain /secondary conditions bring me the awareness I need. When I make choices that keep me from pain/conditions, a side benefit is my weight stays stable, I maintain. I honestly think it would be harder for me to maintain without my health issues. Sounds backwards, I know, but I think it is true.

    • Ellen says:

      Vickie, would you believe I have a post in draft about this very thing? I have often thought that my ability to keep my weight stable is due to my health issues as well. I simply have no other choice if I want to remain as pain free as possible – so I totally get what you’re saying.

  2. NewMe says:

    Pain as a gift? Ha! That’s easy for someone who has never lived with pain and disability as “close, long-term friends” to say.

    This being said, I try not to be too sorry for myself and to appreciate what I can still do and the times when the pain or the disability do not stop me from spreading my wings in one way or another. I just keep on living and appreciating the good times.

    Your painting is extraordinary Ellen. You are finding your way. I hope (and believe) that you will start to feel better. The real learning here is that you must not go back to your “old ways”: there are certain things that you must never do again, no matter how good you may feel, i.e. running.

    It’s all about acceptance and moving on.

    Love ya.

    • Ellen says:

      Those with chronic, lifelong pain have an understanding of it that I feel, is completely different than those who have bouts of pain or occasional distress – I agree. the past 9 months have given me a deeper appreciation for those who have learned to deal with and carry on, despite the pain. Acceptance and moving on is all we can do when there’s really nothing left TO do, right?
      And as for my old ways – that is another lesson I’ve learned through all of this: don’t take advantage of good days/weeks/months by getting cocky about it. Running and I have quietly but firmly parted ways and I am from this point forward going to be a lot gentler to my body if it gives me the chance.
      Love ya back, Lady 😉

  3. debby says:

    Ellen, I agree that your work looks like two different artists! I love both styles so much. The detail and reality in the new birds is outstanding. But I like the more fanciful style just as well (hope I am using okay terms to describe.)

    As far as chronic pain. I do like the idea (in theory) of thinking of it as a gift. But its not a fun gift. An etch-a-sketch is better…

  4. tree peters says:

    that sounds like a lousy thing to say to someone in pain!
    But I love your attitude and hopefully the pain will ease and be gone in time for you to feel like you got *something* out of it.
    I LOVE the owl.
    Chronic pain is beyond enduring and I don’t know how people bear it… how they get up each day and make the best of it. And the people I’ve known who have chronic pain tend to be the most positive people. Weird, huh? I have no way to understand chronic pain and always think it’s so unfair.
    I hope you feel better soon.

  5. Pain…physical or emotional, can certainly be transformative if we choose to see it that way. I applaud your willingness to find the gift in it. Like Vicki said, there’s an awareness that comes from pain. Talk about a double-edged sword…

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