When we think of pain, we generally think of it more on a physiologic and anatomic level, rather than an emotional, mental or psychological level. Pain is defined as an emotional response to a stimulus, but the definition doesn't say that the stimulus has to be a physical one because pain can come many forms. Listening to Melissa Etheridge's song, "Precious Pain" on the radio today reminded me of the single biggest lesson I learned about pain.
One day my Mama Bear and I went to play Bingo. As we sat down to play, a woman two chairs away suddenly became belligerant and her posture looked aggressive, like a wolf ready to pounce. It seemed the woman had already claimed her personal space before we arrived, which included not only the chair she was sitting in, but the two chairs on either side of her. When Mama Bear sat down she had left one chair between herself and the woman, but that wasn't enough. The woman's lucky space apparently included the two chairs on both sides of her. The woman became so angry that she actually became vicious and verbally threatened my mom. Mama Bear sat calmly looking at her Bingo sheets. I had never seen a complete stranger act like that to my mom, but Mama Bear held her ground and wasn't about to move. Mama Bear honestly appeared to be unphased and ignored the woman's insults.
As I leaned forward looking to the right fully loaded and prepared to say something to the woman, Mama Bear ever so gently looked at me above her reading glasses and said loud enough for the woman to hear, "It's okay Loretta. It's okay. I'm not the one in pain."
With that, the woman froze like a dear in the headlights. She had a surprised hazey-gaze like someone had just punched her in the face and her mouth dropped open. Mama Bear's words were gentle without a harsh tone. The woman was rendered speechless. Not three minutes later she was huddling up into Mama Bear's space doing everything she could to apologize and saying how she was not normally like that and would Mama Bear please accept her apology. Mama Bear looked her in the eye, smiled and said, "Yeah, yes. It's okay." After the woman moved back to her chair I whispered to Mama Bear, "Wow!" When I asked Mama Bear about it later she just said, "She's in pain and it changed her."
A bazillion blessings
Dr. Loretta Standley, FIAMA
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