I have no shame in letting my readers know that because of many painful hospital experiences I had when I was a child, I automatically feel shame when I experience physical pain.
And I’m feeling some physical pain now, as I recover from my recent open heart surgery. Pain is bad enough, but shame on top of that pain is really too much.
Today, before I starting writing this no-shame-in-feeling-pain post, I spent some time actively letting go of a particularly traumatic experience of being shamed when I was in pain after my first heart surgery at age 10.
Without shame, I mentally sent a message out into the universe towards a Dr. Hyatt who, 53 years ago, reacted to my excruciating post-surgical pain by calling me a liar and a spoiled brat, accusing me of putting other children in danger because of my selfishness, and then leaving me alone in my hospital room, in pain and shame.
Here was the message I just sent, in my mind, to Dr. Hyatt:
Hello, Dr Hyatt. It’s Ann Koplow, whom you met at Children’s Hospital in Boston 53 years ago. I had just had heart surgery and was trying to let you know that I was in a lot of pain. You were impatient and dismissive with me, told me I was lying about my pain, was a spoiled brat, and that I was putting other children in danger by distracting you from their more important needs. Instead of validating and ministering to my pain, you left me alone in my hospital room.
You were wrong. You did the exact opposite of what a doctor or any healer should do. Since you did that so long ago in November 1963, I have felt shame whenever I feel pain. Also, I resist reaching out to others who might be able to help ease my pain, for fear that they will react the way you did.
I’m not sure why you did what you did that day. Maybe you were overworked, overwhelmed by the Kennedy assassination, inexperienced, scared, angry, and/or becoming aware that this was not the work for you. It doesn’t matter why you did it. I need to tell you that you did a lot of damage to me that day, which has continued to haunt me ever since.
Tonight, I am giving notice that your influence in my life is over. You have hurt me enough. I will never feel shame about pain again. There is no shame in feeling pain.
And, my pain and my shame both went away.
I wonder if any of my photos from yesterday will fit the no pain/no shame theme of this post?
It pains me to see that only one of those photos seems to relate to the content of this blog post:
However, I feel absolutely no shame about that pain.
It is no pain, here and now, to share a selection from my CD of 100 best classics:
Happy autumn, everybody! I wish us all a season of no pain AND no shame.
Thanks to all who helped me create this shameless, painless post and to you — of course! — for reading it.