Tag Archives: stoicism

What if all pains are birthing pains?

This was a question Imelda Almqvist asked on Twitter recently. You should follow her – https://twitter.com/ImeldaAlmqvist

I experience a lot of pain – most days at least some part of me hurts. Sometimes all of me hurts. I also experience emotional pain especially around depression, anxiety and historical wounding. If all of these pains are birthing pains, it leads to the question of, what am I birthing?

The physical pain I experience isn’t necessarily doing anything useful – at this point I have so much self control, stoicism, coping mechanisms etc that I don’t feel there’s any case to be made for it being character building. It does sometimes come as a consequence of what I do – physical activity tends to lead to pain. My Tai Chi teacher talks about this in terms of weakness leaving the body – a nice thought form. So, I am in the process of constantly birthing a body that will carry me through the rest of my life and will hopefully be able to keep moving, even if it does hurt.

When it comes to emotional pain, I think this might be a useful question to ask. What am I processing? How am I changing? What new self am I birthing in the process? What old wounds am I exposing to the air? What can I heal? What can I make out of this? Not because it is an absolute truth that the pain is a birthing pain, but because I can chose to think about it that way.

What my experiences of pain lack, that birthing pain has, is self-announcement. Admittedly, I had a lot of trouble getting anyone to take me seriously when I was in the early stages of labour – too much stoicism and self control, not enough screaming and crying… But when you’re squeezing out a whole new person, people expect you to be in pain and suffering and struggling and are likely to try and help and will eventually take you seriously… Most pain isn’t like that. One of the problems with ongoing pain is the likelihood of being treated like you’re making a fuss, being a hypochondriac, attention seeking, lazy and the like.

So here’s another question. What would happen if we all took pain more seriously? Our own and each other’s. What would happen if all pain was taken as seriously as birthing pains?