Our modern culture excels in building up an expectation of right answers for everything. We are put through years and years of schooling with all manner of exams and tests that imply that there is an answer for every question.
Not only does an answer exist, but there is only one correct answer and all the rest are wrong, even if they're really, really close.
And this carries over to the way we are with ourselves in pain and the way we respond to life with pain. We search for the real fix, the magic pill, the one true key to healing, to a pain free existence, to a more perfect life. Or even one that is just slightly less painful than the one we have now.
There must be AN answer to this. What is it? Where is it? Who has it? So we keep searching the pharmaceutical shelves, the internet, the medical community, and within ourselves.
Where Have I Gone Wrong?
We go from being determined to find it, to being frustrated with the last thing we tried that didn't work, to panicking that we will never find the IT we're looking for, to being despondent, and, finally, defeated. (And then we often start that cycle over again.)
We may feel our doctors have failed us. We may feel life has failed us. We may feel we have failed at life. We may feel we have failed ourselves, failed at being ourselves in this life because this isn't what we signed up for.
So we keep looking for the holy grail for pain.
It's out there, somewhere, it must be. Because that's the way the world is set up, isn't it? That's what was drilled into us for years and years and years, so we can't stop searching for the grail. Every day we put on our suit of armor and continue the quest. And we often exhaust ourselves with the search.
The Answer is Not Singular
The answer does not, in fact, appear to be singular at all.
Long-lived pain seems to require a multi-layered and complex series of responses that draw input from all aspects of the self.
And maybe that seems discouraging, that there may not be one right pill, or one right treatment for chronic pain. But I don't think so. I think it can also be a kind of relief.
Instead of making ourselves wrong for not having found the one true answer, the holy grail for pain, we can know that we are, in fact, already living the answer with every breath we take - that everything we do with an intention to heal is part of the answer.
The answer is not a state of absolute correctness, a final knowing that will set everything right all at once. Instead, it seems to be a messy, many-faceted, imperfect, and ever-changing process made up of the best choices and responses we can manage from one day to the next, and which may include many approaches and many methods over time.
So, Do We Give Up The Search?
Does that mean that I think we should stop looking for answers to chronic pain? Not at all. But I do believe that if we haven't found the one true solution yet, it may be that is isn't in just one place, it may be that we are surrounded by pieces of the holy grail, so to speak.
Each of these pieces, taken together, can create a workable approach for us made up of daily choices - some of which may be choices we revisit that didn't help before and now do, some of which may be from other disciplines and not strictly medical in flavor, and some of which are new medical developments.
So, we fashion our own grail that reflects who we are and what we need as we move through our journey with pain, and, instead of being something we have to find, it is something we create for ourselves through our choices and through our quest for wholeness.
Thanks, and I welcome your comments!