Living With Pain, Feeling Through Pain: Tips on Healing and Self-Care

“Storms make the oak grow deeper roots”

– George Herbert (1593-1633)

These past couple weeks, I’ve had a string of days where I have been completely immobilized with all-over body pain and heavy fatigue, my body forcing me down against my will.

I’m still learning to listen to it, to let go, to honour its needs and its (sometimes frustrating) wisdom.

My anxiety, my stubborn streak, my stories that tell me to “push through it!”, hiss and claw at the reality of chronic pain.

The pain is teaching me to slow down, to unlearn these stories and habits, to find the soft places within me, to let go, to start to heal. 

I’m officially off work on sick-leave and have been referred to a Rheumatologist who specializes in fibromyalgia.

Last week, the pain in my hips was so bad, so cramped, that I could hardly walk. I went for x-rays and an ultrasound, and when the technician glided the monitor over my hips, I clenched and cried out in pain.

A simple touch had me fighting back tears. And when the terrible ordeal was over, the tears poured out – scared, sore, angry, little girl holding herself with clenched jaw and wet cheeks in the parking lot. Vulnerability at its finest.

I let my fears and my negative emotions take over. Upset, anger, rage, loneliness, frustration, grief, hopelessness, powerlessness. It was necessary.

All of our emotions are so important. They all tell us something about ourselves, they all help us move through our experiences. As they move through our minds and our bodies, they dissipate eventually. We just need to sit with them, ease into them, let them flow through us. 

The next day I woke up feeling more loose, more hopeful, holding more desire for life in all its beauty and challenges. There was lightness.

Every day is a new experience, a new set of emotions, new sensations, new limitations, new expansions, new fears, and new hopes. It ossilates back and forth, like a fan in the middle of the summer heat.

Chronic pain slowly erodes energy and strength. It is easy to sit far too long with difficult feelings, to the point of listlessness and emotional numbness. Sometimes the fan gets stuck in one place, one setting. Sometimes our energies get blocked, our emotions stop flowing and get trapped.

To get to the more ‘palatable’, nourishing emotions, we sometimes have to fight for them, to create shifts, to make changes, to make movements (no matter how small), to ask for help.

Here are some of my current “Chronic Pain Sucks but Life is Still Pretty Fucking Awesome!” healing tools to get things flowing:

  • Meditation – (breathe in, breathe out, pay attention to your breath, place your hand over your heart, repeat a short mantra or single word such as “love” or “soften“, let sensations and thoughts flow through you, noticing them and letting them go, like leaves floating down a river…)
  • Gentle Stretching/Yoga – (child’s pose is the most restorative and soothing position for me. When I’m in a lot of pain and it hurts too much to move, I slowly ease into this pose and sink into it for as long as possible)
  • A good vibrator and great orgasms! (the best, most intimate self-care there is, to get things literally flowing! I think it’s even more important to spend time loving your own body when it’s been in pain, since it is too easy to begin to resent and hate it. Know that your body is beautiful and sexy, no matter what.)
  • Not hiding – (reaching out to people, sharing your story and your experiences, knowing that others love and support you. Accepting and appreciating this truth. Basking in the flow of love <3)
  • Sitting outside in nature – (digging in the dirt, barefeet on grass, listening to the water flow and lap at the rocks on the shore. Nature is true connection and a source of incredible healing)
  • Listening to old mix cds – (or any music that stirs up happiness and gets your energies moving)
  • Reading other people’s beautiful healing stories and current struggles (Making connections. Knowing that you’re not alone.)
  • Eating nourishing meals (Bonus: when someone else makes it for you because you’re too fatigued)
  • Reading books! – I’ve been reading a lot about healing and beauty and the power inside all of us. (i.e. Yoga For Anxiety, Glad No Matter What, This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart)
  • Spending time with an adorable pup that follows me around every room in the house. Animals are healing. Find one! Even if you have to borrow a friend’s! There’s an Alpaca farm on the way to my doctor’s office. Every time I drive by, I get ridiculously excited and yell “ALPACAS!!” out the window, with the biggest grin on my face. Instant happy! The other day when my mum drove me to one of my appointments, she stopped at the side of the road in front of the fence so we could sit and watch the alpacas chill out in the grass. We were both smiling hugely and giggling like children. What’s your “instant happy” animal?

Where do you find strength in difficult times? 
How do you process heavy emotions?
What connects you to your peace, your happiness?

Love xo.

8 thoughts on “Living With Pain, Feeling Through Pain: Tips on Healing and Self-Care

  1. C.B. Wentworth says:

    I suffered from migraines for years before I finally realized nothing was going pull me through it except for myself. Many of the things you’ve listed were part of my “program” to break free of the pain. It’s amazing how capable we are of healing ourselves. 🙂

  2. Erin says:

    Hi Sharon,

    I arrived at your blog after reading your contribution to Roots of She. I’ve been reading through many of your recent posts to learn more about your chronic pain. I really want to talk to you more about your health issues, because my gut is telling me that you may have what I have – Lyme Disease. Your symptoms sound so much like my own, your story is so familiar. I struggled with undiagnosed chronic pain for 11 years before my diagnosis. I saw all the health professionals that you have seen and also received a fibro diagnosis, but I just keep looking for more answers, more relief, more reason to live. Fibro is a life sentence of pain management – but Lyme Disease is curable. Unfortunately, proper Lyme diagnosis and treatment is a huge mess in Canada right now, which is why your doctors would have missed it.

    Email me if you want more info: ebidlake a t yahoo d o t c o m

    I live in Ottawa and I might be able to help.


    • allthesoftplaces says:

      Hi Erin,

      Wow! Firstly, thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and explore 🙂 I’m sorry to hear about all your years of struggle and it’s jarring to hear that my story echoes yours so much! Trying to navigate the medical system is very frustrating, scary, and takes a lot of patience (with all the guess-work). It’s strange because my mind has been swirling so much sometimes with possible diagnoses and Lyme disease has definitely surfaced. I just never followed up on it because I figured I haven’t spent time in tall grasses lately! But who knows, it’s always a possibility that I could have been exposed. Eep!

      I’ll definitely email you soon. Thanks again so much for reaching out! xo.

      • Erin says:

        Hi Sharon,

        Exposure to Lyme carrying ticks can happen outside of the woods and tall grasses. I know someone who got bit in his backyard, clearing branches and raking leaves. I’ve also heard that migrating birds can carry ticks, so ticks can literally drop out of the sky. This isn’t to scare you, just to let you know not to discount it. Only a relatively small percentage of people (I’ve seen stats that say 30-50%) even remember being bitten by a tick or display the telling “bullseye” rash that comes with Lyme.

        Please don’t discount it. It’s definitely worth looking into.


      • allthesoftplaces says:

        Hi Erin,

        Sorry for the delay there. I was just in the process of packing and moving. Fun!

        Thanks again for the info and the support. Wow. I have a doctor’s appointment in a week and I will definitely bring it up. Everything is worth looking into at this point. xo.


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