Melting Pain Away with Compassion

IMG_3883I have a big day ahead of me tomorrow: a major dental work. My being squirms in anticipation of pain. Intellectually, I know I’ll be blasted with painkillers and I won’t feel a thing.

My younger self doesn’t get it. Because from a very young age, all dental work I had experienced was done without any pain relief. Maybe they haven’t invented pain relief back then. Maybe it hasn’t reached Azerbaijan yet. Whatever the reason, pain relief was not available when my teeth were drilled and nerves were removed on a regular basis.

The worst thing was this: I was not allowed to even squeak. If I cried, I was told off. To cope, I pushed the pain away. My knuckles were white and my hands ached from squeezing the handles of a seat. I disassociated, shut down, numbed out. With time, I became pretty good at it. A little too good…

I’ve been bracing myself for days in anticipation of pain, the pain which may not be there. What I am discovering though that all that unexpressed pain, tears and anger are still here.

Not feeling something does not make our emotional pain disappear.

Now that I am relatively safe and the horror of that dental work is behind me, my feelings are here, demanding my undivided attention.

So, in the spirit of this month’s theme, I am sending compassion to my younger self:

  • I am sorry you had to go through that pain.
  • I am sorry adults did not understand your feelings.
  • I am sorry they were not gentle enough with you.
  • I am sorry you had to push the pain away.
  • I am sorry you couldn’t feel your pain back then.
  • I am sorry all this pain and terror were stored in your cells.
  • I am sorry you didn’t have enough support.

Sometimes, all our younger selves need is to be seen and to be heard, across the years, stored pain and unshed tears. The next time you notice an old hurt is getting triggered, send your younger self some compassion. It will not change the past, but it might help to melt that old pain away.

10 thoughts on “Melting Pain Away with Compassion

  1. Another excellent post Gulara. Boy, you are prolific! I’m jealous…well almost. I do a lot of other writing and have several blogs LOL. I love that line: “Not feeling something does not make our emotional pain disappear.” This is so true. After keeping silent about the sexual abuse I suffered at the hands of my father for 13-14 years, so many have asked me how I got over it, how I coped. I’ve written the second half of my story but still I wonder, how did I cope. How was I able to make the pain disappear. In my private moments, I know it never has. Nor have the memories. But on some level, I no longer “feel” anything. I don’t hate my father; I don’t love my father. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I don’t blame my mother but every so often I do. And when those feelings surface, I’m somehow able to brush them aside, zone out as it were, just as I did every time he raped me. I felt nothing while that was happening and that is why I had “no tears for my father”. That was my way of coping then…and now. I simply refuse to dwell on it because doing so serves no useful purpose.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Viga, I know how much you do! Just connecting with and supporting memoir writers on Memoirabilia’s FB page is a full-time job, never mind about editing and publishing Memoirabilia magazine, plus your super useful blog, etc. etc. So, thank you so much for posting here.
      I am so sad, Viga, that you experienced years of deep trauma. Thank you for writing your book and sharing with people so openly. I am sure your writing has healed many lives. I wonder whether when we carry so much pain, we learn to support ourselves by turning into a bigger container where pain and good stuff can co-exist. Learning to Love Myself, your second book, is such an important contribution. Sending lots of love to you this morning.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve just read a book on childhood trauma that I found very helpful—’The Body Keeps the Score’, by Bessel van der Kolk, a psychiatrist who started out working with soldiers with PTSD, but who moved into working and researching adults who’d been traumatised as children. He wasn’t really talking about dentists, although I agree—going to the dentist was a traumatic event in pre-anaesthetic days! Van der Kolk talks about children whose pain is being inflicted by a caregiver, someone who’s meant to be keeping the child safe, not abusing them. Children have to block or dissociate in order to cope in those circumstances. They’re being told that what they’re feeling is wrong, and they have no one to turn to. For me, reading the book was healing in itself—it was the first time I’d seen myself described on a page (and he’s never even met me!), and went a long way towards explaining why I feel and act the way I do sometimes. I’m not really sure about your past, but I suspect it might speak to you, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for this title, Louise, I’ve looked the book up. It’s excellent! You are right, it’ll be a helpful read to explain some of my feelings.
      I hope your editing process is back on track and all is well with you and your family.
      Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting in the midst of your big project. Sending much love to you and your book!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. By now you will have had the dental surgery Gulara? I hope it went well – just checked in my diary (you reminded me!) of my next rather major dental surgery later this month. It’s true, we don’t want want to experience pain in any form and there’s a pill or a drug to take it away … but pain is a messenger. And while this may not be directly connected with dental pain, your compassion ‘list’ to the younger self is profound. By feeling the pain, we can treat the wound – with compassion – and allow its healing. Thank you ..


    • You are so thoughtful and sweet, Susan, I feel so touched by your attention. It went really well. I am still a bit battered, but a lot better this morning. Good luck with your dental surgery later this month. May it go smoothly and gracefully.
      I am finding compassion incredibly powerful. I think I used to confuse pity with compassion. When I used to look back at my younger self, I often felt sorry for myself. Sending compassion to my younger self is so much healthier though. There is an acknowledgement that, yes, difficult things happened, AND it’s safe to let go of them… I might explore this topic further in a separate post, but your comment got me thinking… Many-many thanks for reading and commenting. I feel blessed by your presence.


  4. I agree 100% with the idea of speaking to the child inside of us, because that is the person who is so frightened. Thank you for the reminder of this as I have been battling fear lately because my present circumstances bring up feelings that connect to part of my past where I was not protected.
    Marilyn Kelley

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Marilyn and I am so glad this reminder was timely. I find that I have to look for reminders all the time as I haven’t been conditioned to be gentle with my younger self, so I tend to forget…


  5. Hi Gulara – I loved this: “Not feeling something does not make our emotional pain disappear.” So true. Much too often, we forget that our inner child still needs nurturing and healing. I hope you were able to find strength, courage, and comfort during your dental procedure – but especially painkillers! 😉


    • Thank you for reading and commenting! Yes, painkillers helped and I am eating lots of cakes these days for comfort, so all is well in my world 🙂 My inner child is happy though it’s not very good for my weight, I guess… Thank you for stopping by, lovely to read your writing too!


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