I feel like pain – psychological and physical both – creates circumstances in which it becomes ever more difficult to make the kinds of decisions required to ease that very pain.
I’ve read some about how poverty, in itself, actually acts to reduce overall IQ in studies. I can’t remember where, but what I want to talk about is not so much the science – more, my own personal experience with the phenomenon.
For example, when I was homeless- life became a never-ending series of what I’ve been calling ‘making decisions out of desperation’….taken to the utmost extreme of that concept.
It becomes very difficult to think in the long term, when the fears of every moment are so overwhelming.
I feel like our brains, perhaps- allocate our very attention, itself, in proportion to perceived severity of a threat (or the perceived extent of gain).
The greater the threat, the greater the pain- and the more immediate the prospect of such; the greater our inability to think about anything else, becomes.
When I was worried about what would happen were I to fall asleep in particularly dangerous areas, around particularly dangerous people- the long term costs of using crystal meth were eclipsed by the (perceived) short term benefits of staying awake long enough to find a relatively safer place.
It took me a long time to get it through my terribly slow lizard brain (to borrow the phrase from Dan Carlin!) – that the problem with forcing my body to stay awake for days on end, was that it resulted, inevitably – in a forced sleep, at some point. One that I rarely had much choice in the timing or location of.
My mom once commented to me about how much it annoyed her that people on welfare got free grocery bags, yet seemed to never reuse them- while she had to pay for them, but was much more responsible in her usage.
The accuracy of such a statement aside (let’s posit, for the sake of argument, that she was correct) – it becomes so difficult to find the energy – nay, even sometimes the very awareness – necessary to do such seemingly simple things as reusing grocery bags, when one is worried about how to feed one’s children the next day, for example.
I was thinking about this today because my tooth has been hurting for the past few days.
I tried going into a dentist yesterday, but because of the pandemic, the waiting list is months long. There are other dentist’s offices in town that I have not tried yet- but after days of pain at the intensity it’s been at….I am just drained.
I know that I will not start feeling better until I get this taken care of, but every day I do not- it becomes harder to do so.
I do not have any easy answers for how to use these observations to better our lives, or to summon the energy to fix things when we are actively feeling pain, when we are actively suffering.
I wrote this more out of a desire to help shed light on why people so frequently seem to act selfishly towards society when in dire straits, or out of laziness do not seem to be trying to fix the problems in their lives.
I feel like it’s possible that even laziness is frequently, maybe even always- rooted in pain. In trauma.
The day after my ex almost killed me (the first time, anyway) I stayed in his car, with him. I was okay, physically. He had smothered me – not beaten me, more than around my face.
No broken bones. My arms and legs were unhurt.
But I just could not summon the energy even to get out of the car, to go get food or to leave or do anything.
I was a zombie.
This is something I never understood about abusive relationships, before that day. If I’m being honest with myself, I had no empathy or even pity for those that did not leave when they still had a chance to.
But I could not leave, right then- because that level of trauma had sort of forced my brain into standby mode.
I could not think, could not move.
This is a really extreme example- but I feel like it’s those that help me learn and apply lessons to the more minor situations in my own life, most efficiently.
And taking a look at my own reduced energy today, after merely having pain in my jaw for a few days –
and it is no wonder so many people are so tired, all the time, now.
Every news report we watch about violence and unhappiness- every tweet we read about someone in pain that we cannot help…. These are all little bits of trauma.
So mild, we hardly notice.
But they add on to the problems we face in our own lives, add on to the pain we feel every day, every moment- and the effects are cumulative.