I’ve often been told I have the pain tolerance of a moose.
Sometimes this is a good thing, like when I need to get blood drawn, or do battle with an overgrown rosebush.
Sometimes it’s a not-so-good thing, like when I find blood all over my keyboard because I didn’t feel the killer paper cut I inflicted on myself earlier, or when the “slight” (to me) nasal congestion that’s been tugging at my attention for weeks turns out to be a five-alarm sinus infection.
And sometimes it’s downright dangerous, like this past April when my gallbladder decided enough was enough and I ended up having emergency surgery to yank that sucker out.
For weeks I’d been blowing off the relatively minor (to me) pain in my upper right side as punishment for hauling something too heavy, sleeping in an awkward position, yadda-yadda-yadda. The lack of energy I blamed on stress (of course) and a highly active dream life. The increasing bouts of indigestion I attributed to getting older and needing to watch what I ate. Nothing to worry about.
Until I woke up at 2:15 one morning feeling like I was being ripped apart from the inside.
The trip to the hospital was ungodly, with every bump in the road providing its own exquisite torture. When it was time to get out of the car I thought I’d die, and I will always have fond memories of the wonderful person in the E.R. who set me up with my first IV drip of morphine. After the laparoscopic surgery, the doctor told me my gallbladder was in such incredibly bad shape she couldn’t believe I’d been walking around upright for so long.
Before this adventure, I had never given much thought to my gallbladder. Being me, now that I didn’t have one anymore, I suddenly became vitally interested in just what was that little gizmo’s place in the the scheme of things, and how (if?) I would survive. So I cruised the internet and discovered that the gallbladder’s main function was to store bile from the liver, and I would be just fine and dandy without the pesky thing.
Once I got past the post-op fun and games, I felt better than I had in years. Getting rid of all the pent-up bitter bile and hard stones did such wonders for me physically that I wondered if a similar, albeit non-physically invasive, procedure might do the same mentally. So one day I went out to the battered marble circle that serves as a picnic table at chez Frahmann and conducted a small ritual. I won’t TMI you with all the details, but here’s part of what I said:
“Just as I was physically rid of my gallbladder
Which was filled with stones, bitterness, and bile,
So by this ritual I rid myself of the bitterness and bile
And the slow, seeping poison of self-doubt and self-sabotage.
By this ritual I banish resentment of:
–my past and current circumstances and my place on the path;
–other people, their circumstances, their behavior towards me and their impact on my life;
–frustrating and unfair world circumstances which are beyond my control;
–obligations which I see as infringements on my freedom
–myself, for my mistakes and errors in judgment, and my ever-appalling, eternally frustrating lack of perfection.
By this ritual I banish:
–Perfectionism that makes me afraid to leave the starting gate.
–Whatever it is that makes me afraid to color outside the lines
in my creative and everyday life.”
Life didn’t instantly become perfect, of course, because nothing ever is. But after giving the heave-ho to all that mental sludge I carried around for far too long, I’m feeling better than I have in years.