Wading Barefoot

Rediscovering my barefoot-self

Wall of Pain

I was in such pain tonight walking Sally that I had to stop where I was and sit in the backyard on the wet lawn because I couldn’t stand any longer. I’m glad it was dark and nobody saw me. Pain has become a huge problem for me over the last few years and tonight I let it get the better of me.

When my body hurts like this there is little else I can do but sit down on the spot, wherever I happen to be. I keep trying to take on this pain and force myself to tolerate it or stretch and work through it, but it outlasts me every time. It is a fierce pain.


Spending a lot of time in pain has changed the way I see myself and my world; it has been a very bitter experience. I’ve always guarded my independence but as time has passed I’ve had to give up more and more of my freedom because of pain. I sold my car in July 2009 and with it went my ability to do anything outside of my walking range, which was about two miles at that time. Today, 2012- I call it a good day when I can walk the 25 yards to the stop sign at the end of my street. On a bad day, I don’t make it outside. Most days are a compromise of the good with the bad. One rather surprising change is that I am more impatient than I used to be- that’s saying quite a lot, trust me.

Something I hadn’t expected from living with pain was the onset of irrational phobias. I’ve always been claustrophobic and I’ve experienced the power of panic attacks; but as I lose control of my own comings and goings I start feeling closed in, cornered like there are actual walls confining me to this ever tightening space. The walls may be invisible but the urgency to break free of the pain is intense and I think it brings on a sense overwhelming anxiety.

Anxiety is something I’ve faced before in my life. In fact, At the age of twenty I had my first panic attack. Now, thirty-three years later I can handle most any public situation you can throw at me. *Okay, I exaggerate, but truly I’ve come very far and I’m proud of the work I’ve done to make this happen. It did not come easy, nor did it come quickly. It took all my effort to stay in the moment, create balance and focus without holding my breath (I discovered that I hold my breath when I’m scared) I learned to meditate through the pain and the anxiety. I learned that during the really hard times, when I’m wiped out with pain or paralyzed by fear that I need to better control my thoughts and focus my breathing. To that end, I created a place In my mind where I would feel serene and calm. It was a sailboat with a wooden mast. At anchor, the rocking motion of the boat made the mast creak in rhythm with the tide. I visited this place so many times that I could ‘put’ myself there in a single breath if I need be. Nobody was ever the wiser that while I was picking out tomatoes, I was listening to the gentle rocking of my boat. While kids in grocery carts pester their parents endlessly for this or that, all I hear are seagulls overhead yammering for a free lunch. I learned that reality really is yours to create and for me that was an enormous coup. I could take back control in any moment and that worked wonders.


*Ironic twist: in the past couple of years I have become anxious in water. Not the bath tub water, but rivers, lakes and even swimming pools. Consequently my sailboat is not as calming as it once was. I’m in the process of finding another focal point.

It occurs to me that for everything I’ve experienced in life some lesson has been learned and tonight was no exception. When my back tightened up and the pain got the better of me, I lost my temper. I got frustrated with the dog, snapped at her and headed in the house. I immediately felt like a heel. It wasn’t that I yelled at her, it was that I treated her unfairly; it wasn’t her fault. She was sniffing out all her marks and patrolling her territory and couldn’t have known how much it was hurting me to stand there with her. As soon as I got in the house I grabbed a chair and sat with my eyes closed, wishing for the pain to subside. Sally stood patiently waiting for me to remove her gear. It took a long time before I could move again, but when I looked down she’d laid her head in my lap and was looking up at me with such love in her eyes. My heart melted and the pain stopped; unconditional love is a powerful thing.

I continue on my path to enlightenment and I hope that you experience unconditional love along yours as well.

© Kathleen Ryan-McCullough, 2012

March 27, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Beauytiful and inspiring. Kate, you have such a gift for words.

    Comment by Duke | March 28, 2012 | Reply


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