How long can you withhold pain for? As human beings we are capable of holding on to so much pain and trauma, we have a resilience that develops over time. As we know pain comes in many guises, the physical sort – the injuries, the bruises, the operations we face as human beings all tell chapters of our story that we have written along the way. The emotional pain, now that’s a bigger narrative, with more peaks and troughs, heartache and despair, love, loss and anguish, again revealing a canvas to our personal history that shapes us and makes us unique. It is a huge privilege as a homeopath and coach to bear witness to the sharing of pain narratives and to be able to support, guide and heal my clients, holding space for them, passing the tissues and watching the growth that blossoms after the process.
So how would you feel if your therapist told you they too were in pain? Does it make you feel like they are weaker, less able, too fragile to hold and support you? Or does it make you feel that common bond of connection, a shared human experience and the reality of we are all in this together?
I ask because I wanted to share a current pain, which may not seem much, but it bears witness to how much as healers we can try and be the brave one all the time and actually this can be damned hard work!
Yesterday I drove to Birmingham to take my daughter on a drive to see two university campuses, stopping to catch up with friends too along the way. (Amaya is at the stage of deciding which uni’s to put on her UCAS form and a virtual tour online just wasn’t doing it for us). Prior to the drive, I’d had toothache for ages (oh do I really have to admit how long for?) but I felt that actually enough was enough. It had stopped me from running twice last week and as a result I’d felt fed up and caged in. Due to Covid regs I had to wait for a dentist to call me back and triage me over the phone before she could decide what to do next. So there I was driving round the one-way system in Birmingham, chatting with Amaya about life plans and the phone rings (don’t worry hands free!). My dentist’s suggestion to extract the tooth came at the moment that I was supposed to turn off the road and I ended up going the wrong way and agreeing to having my tooth pulled out next week. Once I’d pulled over I realized that I actually have huge fear about losing my tooth. It’s part of me, does losing a tooth mean that I am falling to bits? Will anyone notice? Will it hurt? Why have I been so damn stubborn about it? Yes, the remedies work palliatively for the pain, but no remedy is going to actually to pull my tooth out in a nice fluffy kind of way. Time to get real and get it out. But ouch… and a fair amount of impending anxiety to come over the next few days.
You see the thing is for me I’ve had bad experiences at the dentist, 3 wisdom teeth removed at once and a bad reaction to anaesthesia in my twenties. A childhood in which I had to have enamel coated on them as I’d had so many pharmaceuticals to help with severe allergic reactions that had damaged my teeth, not to mention my mild case of White Coat Syndrome because of having had emergency surgery and seeing my daughter have major surgery too. I absolutely hate the dentist. (Actually, she’s ok on a personal level!) But what I detest even more is that feeling of a loss of control over my body. I am so used to feeling empowered by homeopathy, by personal responsibility that comes with looking after my health and the health of my loved ones, that the thought of handing over to a dentist is actually way out of my comfort zone.
The fact that the dentist’s alarmingly cheery tones came through as we were discussing Amaya leaving home next year were, in retrospective thought, actually a time for me to accept that pain is something that I feel continuously as a mother, it’s the flip-side of love and I wouldn’t wish to be without that. Saying goodbye to a dodgy tooth is no way near as hard as letting her fly off to spread her wings, and watching her enjoy her adulthood is exciting, full of deep joy, pride, love and emotion. And actually getting rid of this tooth is going to give me more space and joy to enjoy the next 12 months as a mum! For with love comes pain, and with pain comes wisdom, resilience and understanding.
In the meantime I am taking a wonderful mix of homeopathic remedies for nerve pain, dull aches and intermittent stabbing sensations. If you too suffer with toothache and want to take a natural approach then do ask me what is in my toolkit! Remedies also available for stubborn parents who get emotional, tearful and secretly shed a tear of joy/pain!