22 October, 2019

When pain heightens awareness

At the end of The Girl Who Smiled Beads, Clementine Wamariya said something else that I meant to include in my last post, but forgot. That's okay, because having its own post means I can comment on this idea a bit more.

She said (and I will paraphrase a little, because she struggled getting the words out),
"use your ears, not only to hear what others are saying to hurt you,
but to hear ALL the sounds around."
She recognised that it is so easy, especially when we are in pain, to only hear what hurts us. And this is normal. Suddenly, after a loss or when we find ourselves in a situation we never imagined or wanted, there are slights all around. Part of this is because we have a new awareness of how this world is focused on the majority, and ignores, neglects and insults the minority. Part of it, however, is that we are only capable of focusing on what accentuates the pain we are already in. After all, pain has a way of blocking off everything else around us, insisting we focus on it, and it alone.

But when we have healed a little, have become able to put the pain away for seconds, or minutes, or days (or weeks or months), it is good to start to hear "all the sounds around." Hear the reasons behind the hurtful comments, and the hurt – whilst very different from ours – that often prompts them. Understanding helps reduce the sting of those comments. Hear our own prejudices in addition to that of others against us, and ask if they are fair. And to those who have come out of infertility with children, I'd ask them to continue to hear the voices that included their own voices, just a short time ago.

We all share so much, even when our situations are so different. The experiences of those in pain are often very similar. Let's use our heightened awareness to hear the commonalities in our experience, rather than the differences.


  1. I was looking for a change from feeling overwhelmed by what I could recognize were really not major problems and are totally first world inconveniences and worries/anxiety about things outside my control. (I have shelter, food, water, some real luxuries like medical care, and there are people who love and care about me.) And I clicked on your website and saw precisely the message I needed. You really helped. Thank you.
    I am so glad to have found your sites.

  2. I'm so glad you suggested this book. I immediately checked it out from our library.

    I'm not to this part yet, but I love the idea of re-attuning as you heal. It's applicable to anyone dealing with trauma and is hypervigilant about threats. This weighted attention takes up more space than it should, and other input can't get through.

    Love your last line. Such a powerful request.