Reflecting on Our Relationship with Pain and the Hidden Desires that Prolong Suffering

Whether the current trend holds sway or not, it exerts no influence upon the passing of days. The human body’s inner workings resemble disrupted computer programs, where memory grows increasingly chaotic. When the resolve to uninstall truly surfaces, each file presents reasons for its irremovability. Consequently, upon a year’s reflection while sorting and backing up one’s collection, invariably, a couple of folders within one’s being are absent or damaged, reminiscent as if still affixed to my lips and lingering upon my countenance. Wounds, born of inflammation.

Initially, a crimson, swollen, limpid blister emerged on my lower lip overnight. Slightly itchy and tender, it compelled me daily to gaze upon it in the dressing mirror, tenderly caressing it with my fingertips. All assured, ‘It’s inconsequential; it’s just inflamed. It shall naturally heal as it matures.’ Unable to endure the wait, I eventually succumbed, rending it open to witness the gleaming malevolent fluid residing within, soon evolving into a sizable, crimson, inflated, and even more unsightly boil. Each morning’s ritual of awakening resulted in its inadvertent rupture while brushing teeth or washing my face, preventing its healing, perpetuating the red boil’s resurgence. The wound appeared perennially inflamed, akin to a peach blossom adorning my lips for over a week. Even post-‘retirement,’ it reluctantly left a faint ashen remnant at the lip’s edge. Small scars, a daily reminder while applying lipstick, urging patience until maturation, suppuration, scarring, and eventual disappearance sans trace.

As if to test my resilience, overnight, a crimson blotch surfaced upon the left cheek’s corner. Upon palpation, a rigid lump nestled within. Despite its presence, it minimally affected my visage. Recalling the lesson from my fiery lip, I refrained from incessant touch yet found myself intermittently drawn. Gazing anew into the mirror, a ghostly white flower blossomed upon the reddened and swollen area. Its sight provoked an intolerable itch, envisioning the blood-streaked pus that would seep when shut-eyed. Family reiterated, “Upon awakening, it shall fissure, ooze, and heal.” Despite the counsel, the unbearable itch impelled me to disinfect, extract nails, resulting in yet another bloody incision. Simultaneously, an odd satisfaction ensued, marking the wound’s transformation to bright crimson, grey-brown, then black-brown—a spectacle I could scarcely endure for a week, resembling an injured pup lurking, evading sight, seeking affection and notice.

During nightfall, possibly seeking distraction from unsightly wounds, I scrutinized every area where bags adorned my arms, ankles, and back. A sensation akin to large hands wildly sweeping ensued, engendering a searing pain throughout, reacquainting me with that curious blend of agony and gratification. These violent hands appeared akin to an executioner relishing his task, until abruptly losing their footing, unsatiated, lashing out at my husband and son, prompting their startled outcry and swift retreat upon my gesture. In idle moments, I recounted to kin and friends; many chuckled, sharing similar sentiments, leading to another round of laughter.

Amidst laughter, a chilling realization dawned: The pursuit of joy stands as human instinct, yet clinging to pain represents a subconscious, instinctive reaction. Humans, more often than not, shun confronting these covert desires. Aware certain wounds will self-heal, they yield to the compulsion to reopen them, baring them as inflamed, swollen, and even ulcerated, magnifying their display for others, mulling over them in self-pity and yearning for attention, perpetuating the cycle of tears until exhaustion, weariness, and numbness settle in, reluctantly sequestering them within the spirit—packed, compressed, forever archived.

Could we then conjecture? When immersed in profound anguish, confronting pain deemed unbearable, might we gently inquire: ‘Is it because we are loath to relinquish this sense of suffering?’ Consequently, why do we nostalgically hover at the brink of these wounds?’

More often than not, it’s not the wound itself that inflicts pain upon us; rather, we willingly indulge in the bittersweet allure of sorrow that this pain begets.

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