What Can You Know of My Pain, Mere Mortal?!

March 25, 2011

From what I have read over the past years a high pain tolerance may be an aftereffect of child abuse. I think I have a pretty high tolerance for pain and I compare most pain to labor, which was the most pain I ever experienced, but dammit I was going to deliver that baby naturally! I did, and now I have a threshold with which every other pain in the Universe is compared to. (N.B. The other two kids were c-section, but I think I would have asked for the meds.)

So when I experience pain, say pain that feels like a lightning bolt ripping through the lower left side of my abdomen, I think…”Well I can still make dinner and I’m not incapacitated, and I got through labor, so this should go away and be fine.” and I get on with life. La-la-la… When the pain moves across my back and I need to lay down for a bit I think…”Oh, maybe my period is coming.” La-la-la… If the pain is still there when I wake up and roll over in the morning I think… “Either there really is a sharp, hot metal pipe in me that I seem to have missed or perhaps it should be checked out.”.

Physical pain is nothing. I’m proud that I can put my head through a television and still shop for groceries. I can still drive with a pitchfork in my ears, too. That is also why I miss warning signs.

I almost missed this warning sign, but hubby helped me decide to go to my gynecologist. It was a good idea, maybe he really does care about me, and it’s fucked-up in there. Not an emergency, but I’m on hormones to do this-and-that and there will be surgery soon. (and I was gently chastised about comparing my pain to others or labor) After all, if I don’t have at least one surgery a year I simply don’t know what to do with myself!

I did the same thing with my gall bladder, arthritis, and pleurisy.

I’m curious to know if other survivors, DIDer’s, C-PTSDer’s, etc. also have a high pain tolerance, or are afraid to show pain in front of others. Now I feel stupid for not listening to my body.


20 Responses to “What Can You Know of My Pain, Mere Mortal?!”

  1. meredith Says:

    I am the Queen of Migraine Denial. I do not acknowledge pain until someone picks me up, in a daze, wandering through the streets asking for aspirin. Then, I usually say, “well, I’m not feeling my best today…” *eye roll*

    Today, I couldn’t make it into the street, so my eyes are zotting zympathy to you in streaks of yellow (from beneath my heap of heating pads and duvets on the couch.)

    My tolerance for pain is unreasonably high.
    NOTE: Unreasonable is the key word, here.

    By the way, I’m bored but sick but restless. Do you know any other funny ways to talk about your life?

    Say cheese(y)!


    • roseroars Says:

      After much deliberation we have chosen to answer your request, though we still believe you to be a crumb in the raspberry danish of life…..

      Aaaaaaaaaa! I hurt, hurt, hurt, and when I realized I had good reason to hurt I hurt more. I’ve been crying since 8:42am (I think), but hubby’s been checking in which is nice.

      Ever watch your doctor make that serious straight-line face? Then watch a technician make that face, too? Then your doctor starts talking softly and slowly? It was awful. I headed right to Starbuck’s for a Cinnamon Dolce Latte afterward. YES! It was THAT awful!

      Oh well…everything is getting taken care of and it will magic-happy-super-rainbow-time soon.

  2. meredith Says:

    P.S. I’m glad you went to the doc. It honestly is a challenge to figure out pain with DID.

  3. meredith Says:

    fine. I’m not the queen of anything… just don’t tell anyone you know I’m a crumb.

    I’m really sorry you feel so crumby, too. I’m glad you made it to Starbuck’s in one piece. I’m not sure what to say about your rainbow time, though. Sounds suspicious. Do you get to take drugs, or what?

    • roseroars Says:

      I think rainbow time might be just as the Valium takes effect and they wheel you into surgery. At least on surgery day. Then there’s the good stuff you get while you recover…

      It’s good I saw my GYN today, though. It could’ve gotten messy if I hadn’t. It’s also good it’s not an emergency, but I think I might milk this with the family anyway…”It hurts too much to vacuum…please help me out just this once…”, or “We should get Chinese take-out tonight so I can rest…”.

      What do you think?

  4. Grainne Says:


    I could have written that post. I have constant, chronic pain that I throw to the back of my mind every single day when I have to get up, care for my son, go to work, cook, clean..everything. I come to work when I have a migraine headache and just dim the lights some…I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told “I can’t believe you came to work like this!” If I sat at home, I’d feel useless…like I wasn’t even capable of doing my job.

    I almost never complain about pain. I almost never even mention it. What happens to me, is that when it gets really, really bad, and I finally ask for some help from my doctor, she looks at me like I’m making it up. Barely having mentioned buring, aching pain in all of my joints over the last six will do that.

    I have learned to listen to my body, unfortunatley, I have no idea what it’s telling me half the time.


    • roseroars Says:

      I rarely complain, either. Maybe that’s why hubby was so insistent about going to the GYN.

      Like you I just push on and work through it. If I don’t I feel lazy and worthless. I used to think I had a Protestant work ethic, but now I know it’s one result of being abused.

      The nurse that helped me with my breast problems gave me a great hint: If a part of your body is in pain ask that part what it’s trying to tell you. It works pretty good, too.

      I think we need to find a common language with our bodies. I’m pretty sure mine is speaking Korean…

  5. shame Says:

    I agree with you. There’s something about abuse survivors and having a higher pain tolerance. My doctor told me it was because of my migraines. Something about they built the pain tolerance. I didn’t know any better at that time, so I believed him.


    • roseroars Says:

      Thanks, Jo.

      Do you mean migraines from abuse? Or dealing with them kept raising your tolerance? I had nasty migraines for years, but they stopped after reaching a certain point in therapy about 7 years ago.

      Migraines suck.

  6. Pandora Says:

    C-PTSDer here. Very interesting question. I think I have quite a high physical pain tolerance: I have IBS (incredibly agonising) and migraines (as well as self-harm). I whinge quite a bit admittedly, but despite the significant pain these conditions cause, I usually go about my daily life quite normally.

    Psychological pain is often an entirely different matter though 😦

  7. Nansie Says:

    Lisa I gotta tell you that almost all my research finds this pain issue to be common amoung DIDers. I discovered it about myself a while back and it blew me away but my stories of surgeries and other health related issues are almost the exact same as yours. I can’t tell you how much it amazed me when I discovered this. My T and I have a few conversations over it because it’s scary at times when you find out something serious is wrong and you were going about your business like it didn’t exist. Maybe now that we are getting an awareness on this we can be more cautious with ourselves in the future? I hope your ok and BIG hugs to you girlie!!

    • roseroars Says:

      Thanks, Nansie. Usually when I’m in pain there’s a voice saying “Why bother doing anything about it? No one gives a shit anyway.”.

  8. kate1975 Says:

    Yes me too. It sure helps with the chronic pain I have had for the last twenty-five years. I worked physical labor jobs for fifteen of those years. So been there, done that. In the book The Courage to Heal, in the chapter on the body, there are many survivors who share about this issue. I am still trying to learn how to be gentle and kind to my body and to react to my pain with healing methods.


    • roseroars Says:

      Thank you, Kate. It’s really hard for me know what is gentle or what is normal for either pain or healing.

      • kate1975 Says:

        Hi Lisa,

        I think that the body disconnection that happens during and after abuse makes the concepts of grasping concepts of gentleness and normal for pain or healing very difficult and challenging. I think that we each have to learn something that goes exactly the opposite of what abuse taught us to do and believe. Good and healing thoughts to you.


  9. tai0316 Says:

    Hey Lisa,

    Are you ok? You said you’re going to need another surgery? Obviously I don’t want to be nosy, I’m just worried about you.

    I noticed a common thread here in the comments, the not complaining thing. I have a very high pain threshold. A doctor in an urgent care facility once cut me with a scalpel (twice) before the lidocaine injection had kicked in, so I felt everything. It was the most painful thing I can remember and even though I got close to passing out, I didn’t. I have a chronic pain condition too and it never eases up, it only stays the same or flares up worse. I’ve literally been in 24/7 pain since I was a teenager. My husband thinks I’m an anomaly because I don’t complain, I don’t talk about unless he makes me.

    I actually find it interesting that people with our backgrounds handle physical pain so well (sometimes *too* well as you experienced yourself huh?). I wonder why that is and I wonder why many of us also top that by not complaining????

    • roseroars Says:

      Thanks, tai. I had an emergency c-section and they started cutting my belly before the gas put me under, too. It was an odd pain, but necessary to save baby and I.

      This morning I left a message for a call back with the GYN. The pain is worse and I’m very nauseous.

      I think the alien implants are growing and I’m turning into a pod person. Could be worse.

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