Setbacks and Digging Deeper

Post #5 in the series "Reprocessing Chronic Pain"

They say to expect setbacks on this healing path. Healing is not linear. I know this. I tell this to others all the time.

I just didn't expect a setback this soon. Let's see if it can be an opportunity to go deeper.

Just when it seemed like I was on the verge of becoming pain-free, life happened, in the form of a major medical crisis in my family. It came out of the blue and needed to be addressed immediately. I am the one in the family who knows how to navigate the health care system so I snapped immediately into gear, making calls, setting up appointments, and communicating with the care team. I was gripped with fear, triggered into fight/flight mode. I was frustrated with the system, feeling rushed and anxious, and worried and scared about what might happen. So the pain came back. When pain has been the default stress response for over 30 years, it doesn't reverse in a couple of weeks - not when the you-know-what hits the fan.

Along with the family medical crisis came the drama of family dynamics. My family comes together pretty well in times of stress, but inevitably some of the old and not-so-helpful patterns emerge. Disagreements. Poor communication. Hurt feelings. So, I got to see that fear is not the only emotion that can get paired with chronic pain. Anger, frustration, resentment, and shame get right there into the mix too. As it became clear that this medical situation may go on for a while, I got really scared that the pain would stay along with it. I tried to use the PRT tools but they center on reassuring myself that I am safe. Nothing about this situation is safe, consciously or subconsciously. And I felt too tired, distracted, and discouraged to really focus on the practices with the same energy that I had access to before.

But I'm determined to find a way to navigate stress without it going straight to my back. Just because it'