Our Entangled Knots

I have never forgotten the power of pain.

Pain demands attention.

It’s hard to find silence when pain is present.

Pain takes energy to endure.

Pain promotes fear.

Fear makes pain worse.

After my Fibromyalgia diagnosis, I attended a pain workshop. I had endured a couple years of unrelenting pain, managing it with drugs and lifestyle changes and anything else I could figure out that would relieve me.

Surrendering to pain sounded like defeat to me and I wasn’t going to be defeated. My jaw set and my hands knuckled, I was not interested in befriending pain. It was my enemy. I met people who were fighting with pain like I was. I didn’t want to share my story and I certainly didn’t want to share my pain.

This past weekend reminded me again surrender does not mean giving up. Surrender does not mean defeat. Surrender is a powerful choice of acceptance. Surrender opens an empowering door.

I had my Covid vaccination on Friday afternoon and 24 hours later, though my reaction was mild compared to other stories I’ve heard, it was not fun. I surrendered to bed and to the TV.

I thought about surrender and the constant tug-of-war I had fighting against the currents of Fibromyalgia.

I learned through chronic pain that acceptance eased the intensity.

I learned through years of helping my daughter fight her terminal illness that my acceptance eased the intensity.

I learned by experiencing loss over and over that my acceptance eased the intensity.

I’d like to change the word “surrender” to the word “doorway.” Another doorway to open into a new direction. Turning my attention away from resistance towards the doorway of acceptance. Then the fight seems to lose its bite.

We all experience intolerable difficulties. Life is not easy, especially when the difficulties come to those we love. We feel helpless and hopeless. I remember living on the edge of exhaustion and constant chaos, and I remember finding layers of comfort in the insanity of my situation. Tiny little doorways granting me five minutes of comfort here and five minutes of ease there.

I remember fearing the constant years of pain and anguish would change my personality and I would lose myself. I have proven time and again I am still who I am, but with deeper compassion, expansive patience and a heart broken open to feel, see hear and know what truth is. Truth holds the power of love and though I can’t control circumstances, I can control my breath and I can control where I direct the love I feel and I can control the love I send to those around me.

How surely gravity’s law

by Rainer Maria Rilke, from Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to GOD

How surely gravity’s law,

strong as an ocean current,

takes hold of even the strongest thing

and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing –

each stone, blossom, child –

is held in place.

Only we, in our arrogance,

push out beyond what we belong to

for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered

to earth’s intelligence

we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves

in knots of our own making

and struggle, lonely and confused.

So, like children, we begin again

to learn from the things,

because they are in God’s heart;

they have never left him.

This is what the things can teach us:

to fall,

patiently to trust our heaviness.

Even a bird has to do that

before he can fly.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • I’m overwhelmed by the wisdom in this group.

  • The reading this morning was so right on for me because I am in a ton of pain. I think I have a