I have been exploring my reactions, my relationship to pain recently. I am speaking about physical pain, not emotional pain; that is an entirely different thing. Truth be told, I am in pain most of the time. I don’t think about it much because it is simply a part of living in this body. It is not debilitating, it is just a fact.
There are moments when pain is just a part of life. There is the pain I can remember associated with giving birth, there is the pain that comes from acute physiological dysfunctions, like migraines, there is the pain I experience each day when I test my blood sugar and when I inject my insulin and the pain I feel when I walk for too long in the woods. These are simple facts.
Then there is pain that we seek for greater purpose, the pain of receiving a tattoo for instance. I enjoy the process of receiving a tattoo. Not simply for the sake of the art but, the process itself. I enjoy pushing through it, breathing through it. I enjoy the chemical reactions my body has to the sustained acute pain of my skin being transformed into someone’s canvas for the sake of commemorating profound moments in my life.
One of the things I feel rather odd about is that I also associate that type of pain with sex. My sexual experiences when I was young, even into my twenties, were painful. I honestly thought that was the way it was for everyone. I remember being rather shocked to discover that wasn’t the truth, and the first time I had sex and didn’t experience pain was really quite confusing.
A friend loaned me a tool recently so that I could safely pursue this idea in a more scientific fashion. It is a small mat with little plastic spikes that will not pierce the skin but causes a sensation of lying on a “bed of nails” as it were. The pain is sharp and burns hot for as long as I choose to rest upon it. It has been very helpful in discovering my body’s reaction to sustained pain stimuli. It has also been helpful in discovering and pushing past my body’s “pain threshold”.