Allowing yourself to surrender to pain can bring peace

Image: 123RF/avemario

I am not a runner.

Should you be in doubt, a quick look at my picture on the side will confirm this. A very good friend of mine is, though - the Comrades Marathon kind of runner.

A few years ago, she had the kind of pesky knee injuries that runners get, but she went down to Durban and did the marathon anyway. When she came back she told me something that I have returned to over the years.

Halfway through the marathon, the ultimate human race, her knee pain flared up, and she had two choices: leave the race or surrender to the pain and work with it. She chose the latter, held counsel with her knee and made it to the finish line.

Things get tough often, and there's always been a kind of strength that I have drawn from that episode and most of her life in general.

This past week, though, I think I finally fully understood that moment she had in its entirety as opposed to the partial drawings done in these past few years.

I recently started working out with a trainer, a lean and toned woman whose body bears absolutely no past tales of a love affair with fat, however small. Sometimes I curse at her under the little breath I can manage, as she barks orders and set numbers to me without a care of the pain I am going through.

During one of these torture sessions, described by my trainer as easy ways to get my muscles engaged, I had an aha moment. I wanted to give up and let the trainer know I wouldn't be requiring her services in the future, and that I would happily return to my previous life of disengaged muscles.

One look at her told me that that route was not open for the taking and so I did the only other thing I could do. I surrendered to the pain - the pain in my near-numb arms, the pain in my hamstrings and the pain in my quads.

It didn't stop the pain, but it gave me some reprieve, and peace. What I hadn't bargained for, though, was that in that very moment everything in my life that hasn't been going well, would show up.

My love life, that is as messy as the Tennis biscuits in a Sunday trifle; my finances that urgently need Pastor Alph Lukau; the sombre state of publishing and declining business; everything that keeps me awake at night showed up in that very moment.

I worry too much - I know this about myself - but not in that moment. In that state of surrender, I had way too much peace to start grinding my last brain cells on those issues. And so I did with them what I had done with the pain in my body, I surrendered.

My brain overworks itself and tires itself, and sometimes it gets clumsy and goes off in the wrong direction. But, it is still one of the most brilliant minds I know.

Too often we shy away from admitting to the world our pain and are too ashamed to allow ourselves to surrender.

My brilliant brain said to tell you it's OK to be hurt, to be angry and to feel helpless, it is OK to surrender. Life is a race, allow yourself time and hold counsel with your pain.

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