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The gift of pain – A lessons from congenital analgesia

Do you ever wish that you could not feel physical pain? As a woman, I have that wish at least once a month, and I know that you probably have at least once in your life.  

Pain seems to be unavoidable and most times random. You could be walking and for some reason, your shoelaces untie, and you trip and fall. You could be walking down the passage you walk in every day and this time while walking barefoot, bump your little toe against the cupboard. I am sure that the majority of us have been betrayed by the door that slams our fingers along in our effort to close them.

There are people who have never had this experience, not at all. They are unable to feel physical pain. When I first learned about them, I envied them until I learned that what they have is not as glamorous as I made it to be. In fact, these people are considered sick – they have a disorder. This condition is called congenital analgesia, also known as Congenital insensitivity to pain (CIP). It is said that people living with this disorder suffer from self-inflicted injuries and often do not make it to adulthood as these injuries can be fatal. Who knew! Pain is actually a gift! Wikipedia further adds that “feeling physical pain is vital for survival”

As I was learning about this condition, my understanding, and analyses of it led me to see pain differently, more so the ability to feel pain. In a way, I started to appreciate it (well, mostly the happenings of the past that I, at times, never understood).

One fact about life is that it will always throw pain at us and our ability to feel the pain is what changes the game. Our ability to feel pain has the ability to give the pain meaning. Just like with CIP, not being able to feel pain becomes dangerous to us. It often leads us to self-inflicted injures through our choices. This is evident through people who have been hurt so much in life that they have mastered the ability to block out pain to an extent of not feeling it. This is the reason we have monsters in this world who do unimaginable things to other people. Their ability to feel pain has been numbed, they suffer from emotional congenital analgesia.

Feeling pain challenges us to be better people. As Wikipedia rightfully puts it, “feeling physical pain is vital for survival.” Allow me to add that emotional pain is also vital not only to our survival but to our ability to grow and become better people. When we are in the deepest chambers of our agony, we are faced with two options: to either allow the experience to utterly destroy us, or to find meaning and purpose to it. I know that many of us are still standing today because we have allowed our agonies to carve us into better versions of ourselves. A lot of us would be leading different lives had it not been for certain painful situations we have endured. Through grief, we have been made to realise that life is short and that each moment we spend with our loved ones is precious. This has taught us to therefore appreciate them while they are with us and furthermore, appreciate life. Through lack, we have been taught gratitude and what it means to be content with what we have. Through betrayal, we have been taught vigilance and the ability to discern. We have been made to understand that not everyone is for us and that more than we realise, with God by our side, we are the ones we need in this life.

Next time you experience pain, I do not expect you to jump for joy because you have been made to realise that pain is actually a gift. However, my deepest wish through this post is that, right in the middle of your agony, you might get the courage to realise that the fact that you are feeling your pain, is an indication that you are healthy, and that the health of your pain lies in your ability to grow from it.  

Be blessed.