In my work, people often come to me with a crippling physical problem and a serious diagnosis from the doctor. Although I completely believe the physical problem is real and debilitating, I’ve found there is also almost always an emotional component lying beneath the physical distress. If you are reading this, and your body is showing up with symptoms that are asking for help, ask your deeper wisdom,
“Is the pain serving me in some way?”
In Erin’s case, the Wolf she describes in the piece below is a persona that’s hard for her to embody in her daily life. She is not comfortable being that fierce. However, the fierceness that comes with her chronic pain creates safety for her, and allows her to set boundaries in a way that would otherwise be difficult for her. She needs the Wolf to keep her safe. To give up her pain would give up her protector, her safety.
Without my Pain, the power of a fierce wolf would be gone from my side. She has been my most faithful companion. She keeps me ever alert to potential pitfalls. She protects me from risks that could intensify the pain. She keeps others a safe distance from me. Only those willing to befriend her can come close. Yet this has also made me lonely.
She taught me how to howl in anguish, when it’s just us and the moon. She shepherds me in the wilderness of grief. If I try to stray, she is quick to nip me back into my boundaries. She keeps me fearful of stepping outside of that familiar territory. And yet I yearn to, gazing longingly at that unknown, expansive world outside this hemmed in space.
So perhaps who I would be without the Pain, is an explorer, a traveler, a risk-taker, led by Passion rather than bound by Pain. I have discovered, in brief moments of freedom from Pain, that Passion and Pleasure are companions that empower me, rather than enslave me. Through Pleasure I can open channels of energy, I can connect without being encumbered, and I can be seen. People would see me first, not the wolf.
-Erin Panzella, Body Dialogue student