Sunday, December 12, 2021

Pain Perspectives: This is my body. Broken with You by Kay Turner


Art by Arna Baartz

Day-to-day I live with, and manage, chronic pain - alongside millions of other women.

The reason I decided on this particular title for this article - which is a play on eucharistic and biblical phrase “Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me” – is because those of us who were raised in the Christian tradition will have heard a variation of these words an no doubt have pondered what they actually mean - within worship, bible study and religious education classes. Inevitably, through these words we have been ‘programmed’, to some extent, that the body is to be ‘given away’ or ‘sacrificed’ to intense suffering, for the sake of and to ‘feed’ ‘another’ and/or ‘God’, and that pain and suffering are an acceptable exchange, in God’s view, for redemption. This ‘programme’ layers on top of other Christian conditioning we have received around the body being sinful and ‘base’.

Pain Perspective - This is my body

The human body is not meant to live in a state of perpetual pain. The reasons for chronic pain, according to medical professionals, are complex and often unexplainable. Whilst I may experience pain in my body it is not a case for me that ‘this in my body’ - the pain is not my body – it doesn’t define it. It is an aspect of what I process within it. In simultaneously meditating on the words ‘this is my body’ and feeling pain within it – I have observed the body and the pain are two distinct and separate things. Shamanic journeying has given me significant insight into the origins of the pain I feel. Much of it is a physical manifestation of unresolved ancestral patterning and trauma. This is not ‘my’ body. It is the ancestral trauma body. The majority of it is patriarchal, societal and religious conditioning – lack of rest, overworking, lack of pleasure. The pain is an objection to this. It seems my body has been ‘given away’ to intense suffering for the sake of the continuation of the patriarchy and has been a resourced by a man (to raise his children), the state (as an unpaid carer of my parents and children) and the education system (as a teacher). My body’s pain and suffering keep male omnipotence, a ‘Big Daddy’ rulership, in place and I am, according to the Christian narrative, redeemed and favoured because of my self-sacrifice. The Christian story and dynamic continue to play out, interestingly, I notice, and primarily within and through the female body. The male body has even been able to shirk that responsibility. I wonder what the stories and perspectives of other women are about pain and their body and their understanding of the link.

Pain Perspective - Broken with You

Whilst in the Eucharist the bread is broken, for this article I wanted to explore the concept of ‘broken body’ and how it relates to pain. When I looked up the definition of the word broken, I saw a range of words which did not resonate with my experience of pain. Of the non-resonant words, three especially did not fit my personal experience of pain – these words were ‘imperfect’, ‘not functioning’ and ‘severely damaged’. Pain is not an imperfection from my perspective. Pain is a perfect sensation – absolute, complete, having all the qualities for its function – alerting me to a message from my body; that it needs extra care or attention. Pain also demonstrates that my body is functioning effectively and is undamaged and actually fulfilling its task of sending a message. The resonant definitions of the word broken in relation to my perspective of pain were ‘interrupted’ and ‘fractured’. The pain I experience interrupts my sleepwalking through life and unconsciously perpetuating and participating in the patriarchy play were are characters within and acting out. The pain stops me in my tracks. What I have observed is that the onset of pain happens when I am too much ‘in my head’, serving others without reciprocation and/or neglecting my pleasure. So, from that viewpoint, the pain is an ally, showing me that I am imbalanced, fractured from joy, embodiment, Goddess and the feminine. And as the words say broken with you – they remind me that I am not alone in feeling this. My body, along with the bodies of millions of other Sisters are discerning through sensation that how we are living is not in alignment with health, spirit or joy and we are rejecting the old patriarchal patterning.

My intuition is that the worldwide epidemic of chronic pain is an inflammatory response in humanity to the invasion of patriarchy and its effects. Our collective spiritual and physical immune system is reacting and saying NO. The wisdom of pain is showing us we are out of alignment with our natural embodied, human birth right - pleasure, wellness and ease.

Pain is a political and revolutionary statement from the body. A clear message that society, paradigms, culture and systems – and religious narrative - need to change.

From the upcoming Girl God Anthology, Pain Perspectives: Finding Meaning in the Fire.

Kay Turner is a teacher, facilitator, researcher and writer who visions collective evolution. She catalyses individual, collective and institutional evolution through education, embodiment and creativity, and the amalgamation of metacognition, intuition and instinct.

Kay has contributed to the Girl God Anthologies Warrior Queen: Answering the Call of the Morrigan and In Defiance of Oppression - The Legacy of Boudicca. Kay will also feature in other upcoming Girl God Anthologies Just as I am - Hymns Affirming the Divine Feminine and Songs of Solstice - Goddess Carols. Currently she is co-editing the upcoming Girl God Anthologies: Re-Membering with Goddess: Healing the Patriarchal Perpetuation of TraumaThe Crone Initiation and Invitation: Women speak on the Menopause JourneyRainbow Goddess - Celebrating Neurodiversity and Pain Perspectives: Finding Meaning in the Fire. In addition, Kay is writing her own books: Mentorship of Goddess: Growing Sacred Womanhood and Making Love with the Divine: Sacred, Ecstatic, Erotic Experiences.

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